black-eyed susan? yay or nay? (thunbergia)

slowjane CA/ Sunset 21May 31, 2014

Hi all - I've got a fence in my back yard that I was thinking about growing something on to make our small backyard feel a bit more lush and filled out. The folks at my nursery recommended Black Eyed Susan vine - not rudbeckia but the thunbergia "clock vine" - which I've admired in a friend's yard.

Has anyone had problems with it becoming invasive in Southern Cali?

I was looking for something pretty tough, and not requiring too much water.

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CA Kate

My experience with thunbergia was that it didn't get big enough to do much on a fence unless you had many, many plants.... maybe 4' tall at most. Also I thought is wasn't at all drought tolerant in our Central Valley heat and low humidity.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 11:02PM
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I found the vine to be a bit invasive. It throws off seeds which pop up everywhere.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 10:11AM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Invasive here. For lushness and willingness to prune annually after it's established I like star jasmine (Trachelospermum). It would need wires along the fence to get height. Even after the intoxicating bloom it looks fresh and green year round. Only gets winter rain except in our drought years. The true jasmine is a thug here.
I'm trying annual Morning Glory this year - Heavenly Blue.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 9:22PM
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I also found it invasive.I like Pink jasmine,fills in nicely and smells wonderful.If memory serves me correctly i just put a picture of my pink jasmine over on the cactus and succulent forum today.We were just showing some pics of our yards,not necessarily c&s.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 10:01PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

hmm okay - dang i was hoping it wasn't too much of a pest but i guess i suspected... when you all say it's invasive is it that it climbs over everything or that it seeds everywhere (harder to control and birds will spread it etc) like lgteacher experienced?

also irisgal - isn't morning glory on the invasive side or is that cultivar okay? my mother has instilled a deep fear of morning glory in me, though i think it might be really about bindweed, which i have a hard time distinguishing.....but i sure love those blue flowers!!

the yard is very small and nothing but concrete across the fence so i could at least contain it though maybe it's better not to mess with it... i lived in an apartment surrounded by jasmine and it ruined me for the scent unfortunately...;)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 2:08PM
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My back yard backs up to a canyon and i have and have had for many years,morning glories on the fence.The ones i have aren't all that invasive at least not to me.I see a runner going where i don't want it to,i just snip it off.I don't have to do that very often,then in the winter it dies back and we just chop it back and let it come back the next year.

If you have cement below it you should be fine.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 2:34PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Annual morning glory whole different story than perrenial morning glory or bindweed Both horrors in my book. Annual, so you have to do cleanup after it dies.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 9:25PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Use star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, available at any big box store. It will need trellis to climb on (as does thunbergia). Gives a lush feeling without reseeding and becoming a pest. It is slow to get going--you won't see much the first year--but it's a far wiser long term choice

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 9:26AM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Thanks for your thoughts hoovb.

Anything else besides jasmine? that seems very popular and I know it works well here.

Bower vine? Clematis? Native Dutchman's pipe? Native morning glory?

Sorry if the scope of the post is escaping the original inquiry....but thanks for your feedback about thunbergia.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 4:30PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

How much are you "into" gardening? Can you get out there and trim back a vigorous vine every other summer weekend, or is everyone in the family working full time or more than full time and your garden is a place to sit and relax, not work in every weekend.
You want flowers all year long, or is spring enough? Is the vine going to be in an area where you are going to have to sweep up spent flowers regularly? Is that going to be okay with you?
Are you willing to wait for a plant to "settle in" and establish for a few years before you get real performance?

Star jasmine is a standard vine for here that offers good performance for not a lot of work or need for skilled care. You mentioned the word "lush", and with its glossy evergreen foliage, it provides a lush look year round, but flowers only in spring. Clematis is deciduous. It's lavish for half of spring and most of summer and then it looks ratty for fall and you cut it to the ground for winter. Natives can either be fussy and vanish, or take over and be a pain. Is a really vigorous vine going to invade your neighbors and make them mad at you?

Those are just some things to consider. Generally, most vines in Southern California can and do get bigger than the owner expects.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 4:13PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

Great list of questions! Thanks for the general framework to think through my decisions here - super helpful.

We have a very small backyard in which I am constantly tinkering - the back fence is a pretty prominent feature because of the size of the yard - and right now it's still dry dusty dirt mostly except for the two veggie beds, and the giant orange tree.

So, to answer your questions:
-I am very "into" gardening (borderline obsessed maybe?) though new to it, happy to trim a couple times a month;
- I don't need flowers all the time - seasonal flowers I think are appreciated differently/more in fact, but either is fine;
- flower debris is fine (I would probably just let it fall into the beds and become mulch around the other future-plants if possible? Also happy to sweep them - orange tree drops loads of debris it turns out);
- our yard backs up to a concrete garage pad and concrete walkways at the backs of the other properties, so I don't think it could creep anywhere really - as long as it doesn't shoot vines 20 feet underground;
- I am concerned about invasive plants generally and invested in native plants in our front yard - so don't want to plant anything that will get eaten by birds and dropped into Griffith Park (Pampas grass, tree of heaven, ice plant for instance are all terrible)
- I am also somewhat impatient - less so in my front yard where I've planted for the long-term and happy to wait - backyard is like an extension of our living room....

in the pic you can see the fence and the orange tree and patio relationship - I also need to be mindful of orange tree roots too... you can just barely see the dichondra, salvia and penstemons I just bought and am trying to place in front of the fence....oh and the lovely view of the neighbor's garage...;)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 2:08PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

From your description and southern California location, I do think Thunbergia alata could be a good fence cover for you, and does fine here in the Bay Area with just an occasional soak once established. If you only get occasional light frosts, it may keep flowering almost year round, and remain full and evergreen. To get it to climb the fence, it might be easiest to tack up some remesh panels, (5 x 7' welded wire mesh panels), typically used for concrete flatwork reinforcing and readily available at Home Depot. Other fast growing vines might include Pandorea jasminoides or the scandent shrub Grewia caffra, which makes an excellent espaliered wall cover. You might also consider Mandevilla laxa.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 11:24PM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

thanks for the suggestions bahia! i will look into them....

do you have experience with thunbergia going rogue and coming up everywhere?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 5:16PM
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I have NOT found black eyed susan vine to be invasive and popping up everywhere else. Ever. (And I had a huge one.) But, can grow very, very big. I had one on a small 3 x 4 trellis, which it outgrew. So I moved it to a stairway railing going up to a second story deck which it outgrew as well. I recently removed it because it was growing on the railing and we had to have the house tented for termites. It's probably not a good idea to have it grow on a structure attached to the house anyway, but on your fence, it should be fine. You may find it will bloom better in the sunnier parts of the fence, and less in the shadier parts. However, it can look a little "tired" when it's not in the growing season, and thus, not lush. I have a lovely native grape vine, vitis Californica "Roger's Red" that is "lush", provides wonderful brilliant red color in the fall, and grapes that the kids and birds like. It is deciduous, though. You'd have to decide if that feature would work with your use of the space.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 11:23PM
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I've had two Black-eyed Susan vines in my backyard here in LA for 7 years. I love them. They are full and gorgeous, and barely dormant in the the winter. I cut them way back every two years or so.

I have not had any problems with invasiveness or volunteers. It will take over other plants, using them for support, if you let it. One of mine grows on a chainlink fence, the other I've trained to frame a window. Both are in the ground, not pots, and don't need much attention.

I keep packets of the seeds on hand because visitors always want it when they see it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:25PM
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I second the Pandorea and add Hardenbergia, I have Grewia and it needs shaping every few weeks. I try not to let any water hit it because then it would dominate the garden. It is known for how fast it grows.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:07AM
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Do not be dissuaded from the Black-Eyed Susan vine. I LOVE mine and everyone who sees it comments. I wanted privacy, so I added lattice to the top of a rather low fence. I planted star jasmine, the Susan, and Snail Vine, alternately, all about 4 ft apart. "May the best vine win!" Star Jasmine was horribly slow. The Snail Vine started off okay, but one of them was diseased right away. They get infested with aphids. The Susan just wouldn't quit. I only planted two or three along the fence but within a year it covered a great deal of it. Now, two years later I have a fabulous solid wall of yellow flowers with an occasional lavender snail flower coming through. It has flowers year round. (I live on the coast) I water it very little. It does trail and make it's way wherever it can, but the vines are tender and easy to trim. Mine also gets some sort of worm/moths and leaves can get eaten...usually later in the summer. Still, it doesn't seem to harm the overall growth and I spray occasionally. I'm planning on planting more on another fence. I found a coral variety lately.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 1:21AM
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