Vines and Groundcovers

vines.jpgVines are typically used to grow up and along fences, walls and the sides of buildings. There are two types of vines: twining and clinging. The twining vines need something to twine around such as a trellis or a chain link fence. Clinging vines generally have suction cups that suction themselves to a wall or a fence.

Here are some of the vines and groundcovers that will grow in at least zones 3 – 5. I have included the minimum zone that these will grow in parentheses.


  • Dutchman’s Pipe—Vigorous, twining vine. Large, heart-shaped green leaves. Grows flat against a trellis. Offers dense shade. The flowers are brown and small and are usually hidden by the leaves, and resemble a Meerschaum pipe. It grows in sun or shade, and grows to about 30’ long. (Zone 4)

  • Honeysuckle, Dropmore Scarlet—Tall growing, twining vine. Bright orange=scarlet tubular flowers from June to September. Grows in full sun. Fast growing to 10 – 20’ long, 10’ wide. (Zone 3)

  • Honeysuckle, Goldflame—Woody, twining vine valued for fragrant, rosy-red and yellow flowers from June until Frost. Fast growing to 10 – 20’ long. Needs full sun. (Zone 5)

  • Honeysuckle, Hall’s—An extremely vigorous twining vine. The extremely fragrant white flowers fade to yellow. Needs full sun. Fast growing to 15 – 20’ long. (Zone 5)

  • Honeysuckle, Mandarin—Twining vine with orange-red flowers that attract hummingbirds. Masses of flowers bloom from May through July. Needs full sun. Fast growing to 15 – 20’ long. (Zone 3)

  • Hops, Nugget Ornamental—A vigorous climbing vine that will quickly wraps itself around any upright structure in a season. Produces papery cone-like hops later in the summer, typically used to produce beer. Will die back to the ground each winter, but grows back quickly each season. Grows 15 – 20’ tall. (Zone 3)

  • Ivy, BostonDense, self-clinging vine. Attractive green foliage and exceptional orange-red fall color. Blue-black berries. Excellent for covering masonry, fences. Full to partial sun. Fast grower to 30 – 45’ long. (Zone 4)

  • Ivy, Engelmann—Vigorous, climbing vine. Fall color is a deep, burgundy-red. Small blue fruits are attractive to birds. Rapid growing to 20 – 30’. (Zone 3)

  • Rose, Henry Kelsey—Beautiful climbing rose with medium red, double flowers with a yellow center. Rich, spicy fragrance. Small orange hips in the fall. Dark glossy green foliage tinted with burgundy. Needs full sun. Grows 6 – 7’ tall. (Zone 3)

  • Rose, John Davis—Climbing rose with medium pink, double flowers. Spicy fragrance. Needs full sun. Grows 6 – 8’ tall. (Zone 3)

  • Rose, William Baffin—Climbing rose with strawberry pink blooms all summer. Small red-orange rose hips in the fall. Needs full sun. Grows 8 – 10’ tall. (Zone 3)

  • Trumpetvine—Shrubby, coarse foliage on a vigorous, twining vine. Will climb in stone or woodwork. Showy, orange and scarlet flowers blossom in mid-summer. Grows to 20 – 30’ long. (Zone 5)

  • Virginia Creeper/Woodbine—Rapid growing, twining vine. Deep burgundy-red fall foliage. Small blue fruits attractive to birds. Full sun or shade. Fast growing to 30’ long. (Zone 3)


  • Juniper, Blue Rug—Low growing, evergreen groundcover. Forms a dense mat of blue foliage. Good as a groundcover or along banks. Attractive when used to drape over a retaining wall. Full sun to light shade. Grows 4 – 6” high, 3 – 5’ wide. (Zone 3)

  • Juniper, Calgary Carpet—Low growing, evergreen groundcover. Soft green foliage. Use along walkways or as a groundcover. Needs full sun. Grows 6 – 9” tall, 10’ wide. (Zone 3)

  • Juniper, Japanese GardenEvergreen groundcover. Beautiful bluish-green foliage. Nice accent in a rock garden. Needs full sun. Grows 6 – 10” tall, 3 – 5’ wide. (Zone 4)

  • Kinnickinnick—Excellent evergreen groundcover with waxy green foliage and scarlet red fruit. Thrives in sandy soil and hot sun. Pinkish-white flowers in spring. Fruits in August and September. Full to partial sun. Spreads 10 – 15’ wide. (Zone 2)

  • Mahonia, Creeping—Low growing, evergreen groundcover. Dull blue-green leaves in summer turn a bronzy purple for the winter months. Blooms in early spring with yellow flowers. Blue-black berries in August and September. Full sun to part shade. Grows 12 -15” tall, 3 – 4’ wide. (Zone 5)

  • Wintercreeper, Purpleleaf—Outstanding evergreen groundcover. Deep green foliage turns a beautiful, rich plum color during the cool season. Will climb nearby structures or walls. Full to partial sun. Moderate grower to 6 – 8’ wide. (Zone 4)

Now that you have some ideas for some great vines and groundcovers, which ones will you use in your yard? What other vines and groundcovers will you use? How will you use them? Leave me a comment about your vines and groundcovers.

Photo by Kevin Rosseel

Planting Bare Root Roses

You may have noticed that many garden centers have been pushing the purchase of bare root plants. These plants are generally cheaper as they have not been potted into pots and containers. There is nothing wrong with these plants; they just haven’t gone through the extra work of potting them up for sale. This is a great time to get quality plants for less money. If they are available at your local garden center, then grab them before they are gone.

Another way that many people purchase bare root plants is through the mail. This can be a great way to purchase bare root roses. You can find quality rose plants that are not weighed down by heavy pots, thus saving you money while shipping. In this short video, P. Allen Smith shows you how to plant bare root roses, ensuring great results and a garden full of fantastic blooms for you to enjoy all season long.

Now that you know how to plant your bare root roses, start saving some money and get them ordered or purchased now. You will find that the enjoyment that they bring will far outweigh the small cost you paid.

What are some of your favorite plants to buy in bare root and why?

Caring For Your Roses

roses.JPGIf you were to ask most people what their favorite flower is, more than likely their answer would be the rose. There are several things that you will need to consider when you decide to establish your own rose garden. One thing that you will need to think about when you are planting your rose garden is the amount of sunlight your roses will receive. Roses need to have a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. They will also need to be planted in an area that offers good air circulation. This will help to prevent disease.

You will want to be sure to thoroughly water your roses when you arrive home after purchasing them. If you will not be able to plant your roses right away, then you will need to place them in a shaded area to keep them cool. You will need to continue watering them until you are able to plant them.

The following tips will help your efforts be successful as you establish your garden of roses:

Amending the Soil: Roses prefer a soil that is slightly acidic and well-drained. Prior to planting your roses, you will need to amend the garden bed with one part organic material. This can be a mixture of Soil Pep, Coco-Peat, Peat Moss or manure that is well-rotted to two parts soil.

Planting-You will need to dig a hole that is a minimum of 6 inches wider than the root ball. The hole should also be deep enough that it will cover the graft of the rose. In colder climates, USDA Zone 5 or colder, you will want to make sure that the graft is 2 inches below the level of the ground. This will help to protect the rose from dying back to the rootstock. Most hybrid roses are actually grafted onto a hardier rootstock. If the rose dies back to the roots, then a different rose will begin to grow than what you planted. You will want to apply a root stimulator to the root ball before you cover it with your soil mixture. This will help the plant to become established more quickly.

Mulching-The application of a mulch product such as a Soil Pep does several things. It will aid in the retention of water, help to prevent weeds, and keep the roots of the plants cool during weather that is hot. It will also help to give the roses an attractive and finished appearance.

Watering– A drip system is the best way to water roses because it allows the water to soak into the ground and keeps the water off of the foliage of the rose. This will help to discourage disease. It is okay to use an overhead sprinkler, but be sure to use it in the early morning. This will allow the foliage of the plant to dry and will help to prevent disease. Be very careful that you do not over-water your roses. The roots need air as well as water. Do not keep the soil soaked continually. If the soil is moist around 1 inch below the surface, you do not need to water.

Fertilizing-Roses prefer a fertilizer that is balanced. You will want to choose one that has a fertilizer analysis of 15-15-15 or 5-10-5. You will want to fertilize the rose plants when they are in full leaf. Fertilize them again after the first bloom and finally about six weeks prior to the first anticipated frost. Do not fertilize them later as they canes of the roses need a sufficient amount of time to harden off properly before winter arrives.

Pruning-Roses are pruned in order to not only give them direction, but to promote their health and vigor. Pruning gives the plants shape, removes wood that is unproductive, removes wood that had been damaged by winter and provides a good circulation of air. The best time to prune your roses is in the early spring before the new growth begins. This should be done sometime after the last killing frost.

You will want to prune out any wood that is weak or has been damaged by the winter. Cut the wood about 1 to 2 inches below the damage. Remove any branches that are crossing. Be sure to leave any of the new and healthy canes. Also remove any of the suckers that are growing below the graft. When you are pruning, you will want to cut ¼ inch above the dormant bud eyes that are facing to the outside of the bush. The new growth on the plant will come from these eyes.

Pest and Disease Control-For an easy control of insects, you will want to apply a systemic rose fertilizer about every six weeks. You will also want to spray your roses with a systemic fungicide to help prevent disease.

Winter Care-Your roses will need to be prepared for winter. You will want to prune them back to around 18 inches. Be sure to mulch around the rose plant. This should be around 6 to 12 inches deep and you will want to use Soil Pep, leaves or soil. In colder climates, it is also helpful to place rose cones or rose collars around your roses. If you choose to use rose cones, you will want to make sure that the cones are well ventilated.

Realizing that there are many acclaimed rose growing tips, what are some of yours?

Photo provided by: Vema