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Variegated kiwi vine is an attractive woody vine that tolerates shade. The male has lovely pink, white, and green variegated leaves and small flowers that are fragrant and cream-covered. This species needs both a male and female plant to produce its sweet, grape-sized fruit. The fruits have no fuzz, and the skin is soft and tender. Best fruit production is achieved in full sun. The cultivar 'Arctic Beauty' has smaller leaves but is hardy to Zone 3.
A half-hardy perennial, this sophisticated climber grows to 8 feet tall. It has a profuse show of 1.5-inch indigo, violet, pink, or white flowers. It's great for the cold greenhouse or conservatory, and will often bloom until the end of the year unless there is a hard frost.
A better-behaved cousin to the less-than-polite trumpet vine, cross vine is a colorful solution for a fence or arbor with afternoon shade. Although this east Texas native is slow to establish, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ sports brighter, showier flowers than other cultivars and will reward your patience with loads of orange blooms in both spring and fall. Flowers bloom on old wood, so prune this vine immediately only after blooms fade. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 74
Trumpet creeper is a vigorous climber with clusters of trumpet-shaped orange to red flowers from late summer to autumn.
Oriental bittersweet is a vigorous, woody, deciduous climber with rounded mid-green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. It bears small green flowers in summer and axillary clusters of bead-like red berries with contrasting yellow casings in the fall. Fruit splits open to reveal pink to red seeds.
Having the striking leaves of a Rex begonia and a vining growth habit, Cissus discolor is excellent in a container and can be trained onto a form. Its oval- to heart-shaped leaves are dark green with frosty silver patterns, while the undersides are red. The vine generally stays to 1 to 3 feet in containers. It may also be used on trellises or arbors.
'Ernest Markham' is a vigorous, late-flowering climber with abundant small flowers in summer. Blossoms are rich magenta, 4 inches across, with blunt-tipped sepals and light chocolate anthers.
'Nellie Moser' is easy to grow, producing large, flat flowers 6 to 8 inches in diameter with distinctive, gleaming lilac bars on each petal. This clematis blooms from May to late June, with a second, less profuse bloom in mid-August. Planted in a shady spot, the cheery pink-and-mauve-striped blossoms last for weeks instead of days.
Alpine clematis is one of the earliest clematises to bloom, in early May. It bears relatively small but delightful nodding, bell-shaped flowers, 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, in a great variety of colors.
A deciduous climber native to the southeastern United States, Clematis crispa bears lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers with curly edges in summer. Its blooms are not profuse, but their elegant shape makes this plant a good choice for trellises, growing through shrubs, or planting in damp areas. The flowers are slightly fragrant and are followed by attractive seedheads. It also makes an unusual cut flower.
Downy clematis is a hardy, deciduous early bloomer that can flourish in Zone 4. The species will climb to 10 feet with a little support, and it has bell-shaped, purple-blue, almost columbine-like flowers about 1 to 2 inches, sometimes up to 4 inches in diameter, that mature to fluffy, pinkish seed heads. Blooms appear in spring and early summer, sometimes followed by a second flush in late summer to early autumn
'Golden Tiara' is a vigorous, late-flowering climbing vine to 15 or 20 feet tall with intense golden-yellow, bell-shaped flowers that eventually fully open to reveal crimson filaments. It blooms profusely from midsummer to late fall. The seedheads are fluffy and attractive in their own right. Native to western China.
This deciduous, late-flowering twining vine with deep green leaves and profuse, fragrant white flowers is easy to grow and will thrive and bloom in shade. Star-shaped blossoms are 1 inch across, appearing from late August to October and maturing to attractive, plume-like seed heads. The shiny green foliage is leathery.
'Alba Luxurians' is a very tough, late-flowering climber with small flowers that open from midsummer to late autumn. White blossoms are sometimes faintly tinged with mauve when young, and are open, bell-shaped, single, and 2 to 3 inches across. Foliage is slightly gray-green.
This fast-growing, evergreen climber has sharply 4-angled stems and red-orange tubular flowers tipped with yellow that are borne in clusters 4 to 6 inches long. Chilean glory flower blooms from late spring to autumn. Light green leaves are small, ovate, and boldly veined.
English ivy is a self-clinging climber or trailing perennial with almost flat, palmately 5-lobed leaves. Cultivars are available with varying leaf form, color, and variegation, as well as use and climbing habit.
This vigorous vine quickly reaches 20 feet tall and thrives on neglect. The greenish yellow, conelike flowers smell like beer. It can scramble along the ground or grow up screens and trellises.
'Aureus' is a fast-growing, twining perennial with roughly hairy shoots and deeply lobed, maple-like leaves in a luminous, clear shade of yellow. Clusters of subtle, fragrant, greenish yellow flowers add texture in summer and mature to pendent, papery, cone-shaped fruits.
This sweet potato vine has lime green leaves that light up in the sunlight and look paler in part shade. 'Margarita' is a real eye-catcher growing over the edge of a wall or creeping along the fringes of a border. -Julia Jones, Designing with Annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
This sweet potato vine is blessed with leaves that are edged in pink. Use it in containers, as a groundcover, or in beds and borders. Growing it with pink-flowered plants calls attention to the variegation.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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