Too restless to stay put, vines are forever bound for greater height and brighter light as they clamber upward and onward. Eager as they are, the wrong kind of vine soon becomes a garden pest that can smother anything in its path—think the English ivy creeping toward your house from under the neighbor's fence. But the group of well-behaved ornamental perennial vines highlighted here, both native and noninvasive imports, need only routine pruning to keep them in check. Use their robust growth to envelop everything from a utilitarian chain-link fence to a handsome pergola with an exotic mantle of color. These fast growers can provide the coverage, privacy, or shade you need in a jiffy, growing from 6 to 20 feet in a year.
Soft-stemmed species, like hops, establish quickly and are on their way to maximum height after a second year in the ground. Woody vines, like wisteria, are slower to take and support the "sleep, creep, leap" adage: not much productivity the first year, then a little growth the following season before a spurt in the third.
Read on for 11 choice vines and outstanding cultivars that will add colorful flowers, interesting foliage, or enticing fragrance faster than just about any other garden plant.
Shown: The cascading chartreuse foliage of a hops vine, trained on a latticework garden-bench surround, can provide relief from the summer sun.
Train these flowering vines along a fieldstone wall or up a trellis for waves of blossoms that start in June.
Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
The best known of the woody clan is this rowdy Southeast native that uses aerial rootlets to climb up to 30 feet, with orange to red blooms. In a smaller garden, the less aggressive C. grandiflora 'Morning Calm' (shown) has a similar look, with peachy-orange trumpet flowers from June to August. It grows up to 25 feet tall and 9 feet wide in Zones 6–9.
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