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Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Posted by DandyLioness CA 9, SZ14 (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 23, 13 at 20:19

Sorry this is long but I need help!
I would really like to tackle the eyesore that is this wall. No, I don't want to remove it because I appreciate the privacy, I just want something more organic than a super bright and massive wall. I'm not looking to completely carpet every inch of the wall in green, but at least to break it up and give interest to this side of the property.

The wall faces SOUTH and gets FULL SUN, as in all day long. There's a 2 ft strip running along the front facing the street and another 2 ft along the back facing the garages. The side facing the garages has Calla Lilies happily growing in it although I hope to improve that side too, but let's leave that for later.

The soil on this side is either just extremely dry, or really sandy (It's raining now so I'll check in the morning once it is soaked through). I'd like to plant within a couple of months, so if it's sandy, I figured I would just dig it out about 8-12" deep and fill it in with topsoil. Thoughts?

As for what to plant...

1) I'm really wanting at least one BOUGAINVILLEA towards the far corner or "back" of the property, and maybe even another near the center of the wall. Can regular pruning keep it less bushy without sacrificing flowers? I was thinking the back one could extend towards the center, and especially along the top section of the wall.

2) I'd also like to do another vine, perhaps trained on a lattice shaped wire. I was hoping for something like Star Jasmine if it can work in this location.

3) I did consider something more dense to highlight the step-like portion towards the front of the house. I like the look of Creeping Fig while it is growing out(see photo below), but not so much when it becomes a thick mass-like bush that overtakes the entire structure. Could regular pruning keep it looking more sparse? Is there an alternative you'd suggest or at least tips for maintaining the CF on this section of the wall?

I'm open to suggestions! For reference I like the pinkish orange tones of certain bougainvillea and deep purples along with green of course :)

PICTURES:
Here you can see how insanely bright the wall looks.
photo-11

This is coming from the opposite direction, where only the roof of my house is visible; it looks like I live behind a giant white wall.
photo-19

This is what I meant with the Star Jasmine lattice. I think a lattice like this in the rectangular sections of the wall would look really lovely...
Star Jasmine Vine

Creeping Fig looking more sparse.
creeping fig

(Posted similar topic to Landscape Forum and Vines forum, and got redirected here. Not sure why I didn't think to ask some natives first!)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Your neighbors are fortunate to have such a pretty fence to look at.

After two years my bougainvillea was ten feet out from the wall I had planted it on. I couldn't prune it to stay against the wall. I finally removed it. I think it's possible to keep them narrower, but as you note, the flowers are often pruned away. I would plant it in the back corner of your backyard and let it grow over the fence and cascade down the other side.

The jasmine would look spectacular. It would probably get a bit sunburned in midsummer, but I think it would survive. As far as the lattice look goes, the pruning and training would take a lot of time. It's not something I would undertake to improve the views of the neighbors.

Creeping fig is very difficult because it has such an extensive and invasive root system. It's a sewer line killer, so that would be your first consideration. Secondly, it will get the mature waxy leaves within a few years. I'm going to try cutting mine all to the ground to see if it will grow the little leaves again, but it attaches to and ruins paint and stucco, and grows between wood slats and splits them, so you have a chipped up facade with little rootlets all over it for several years while it all grows back, then you have to start all over again and cut to the ground within a few years. Very high-maintenance.

Renee


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Your complement is too kind :)
I honestly don't hate the wall itself, I just feel like it's a bit stagnant yet somehow bold and in your face at the same time.

Bougainvillea--I thought that pruning encouraged blooms? doesn't it bloom on year old wood? I see pictures like these and can't help but notice that it's being kept rather tame. I'm hoping for a similar look:
This is bushy but doesn't seem to be more than 2 feet off the wall. I can't imagine this being allowed to jut outward from the wall by 10 feet. So I assume it's the pruning?
bougainvillea on building
And these seem rather sparse as well. Thoughts?
multi bougainvillea

Star Jasmine--without support, would this climb the stucco wall? If I do opt to do the lattice, would I have to plant multiple plantings? I know it sounds crazy to some to improve the exterior landscape and not just the backyard, but being one who goes walking around the neighborhood often, I really value a well cared for exterior and having one I like on my own home just makes sense to me. Though it may not to everyone :)

Creeping Fig-- I'm going to ixnay this plant and thank you for the warning! Any alternative recommendations for something to trail over that section of the wall?


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by nil13 z21 Mt. Washington L (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 24, 13 at 11:56

the jasmine will need copious amounts of water, especially with sandy soil. Also, maintaing it like the image will require a lot of pruning work.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by nil13 z21 Mt. Washington L (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 24, 13 at 12:00

what about Hardenbergia violacea? it likes well drained soils and has low water requirements.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Trumpet vine needs support, but it grows with very little care. It will also need continual trimming, as will almost any vine.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by soaht Fresno, CA 9B (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 24, 13 at 21:14

What about a Passiflora vine? The fruiting type, which will give you beautiful and fragrant and attractive flowers from spring through early fall. A bonus is the edible yummy fruit that you can make jams, jellies, juices and many more things from it. Make sure it's the purple type since they self fertile and you won't need another type of vines to pollinate.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Almost all vines require a lot of pruning. If you prune your bougie religiously at the right times of year, you can get the effect in your photos. My neighbor's bougie doesn't grow much at all, since it is never watered and is in partial shade. There are also different varieties with different growth habits.

The jasmine would need a trellis or other support to grow up the wall, as would most other vines. If you wanted to do the lattice effect, you would plant multiple plants and during the growing season you would tie each shoot to a piece of wire and train it along the wire, tying it every few inches as it grows. You would prune off all of the extraneous growth. My time estimate for a fence your size would be about 6 hours a week during growing season, but I have never had enough ambition to undertake such a project, so that's just an estimate based on my ivy fence.

I have never grown it, and I don't know if it would thrive in your spot, but the go-to vine for these situations is Boston Ivy. Regular ivy is a pain to maintain, because it grows so fast and requires regular pruning, but Boston ivy is more mannerly, and it sticks closer to the wall. It is also superior because rodents don't nest in it like regular ivy. If it is too hot to plant it on the outside of your wall, you can plant it on your side and it will cascade over.

I love vines, and I have planted just about every type there is at one time or another, and just as surely I have pulled them all out one at a time too, because of maintenance and size issues. Now I am down to just star jasmine (very nice and easily maintained) Algerian Ivy (awful stuff) Creeping Fig (awful stuff) clematis (easy but too thirsty) and one Dalechampia that I just bought to replace a Potato vine. I have substituted climbing roses in a few spots because they are much less work that most vines- if you need to contain them, that is. If you can let vines go wild it's a whole different situation.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

For all the reasons others have discussed, a vine is going to be hugely high maintenance, and hence a huge pain. As a gardener, you'd probably prefer to spend your time on plants you can see, not on plants you grow for the benefit of those who drive by.
Rosemary might be ideal--think Tuscany in August. I'd use it in one of two ways. Planted facing the street, anything you start growing will have to be tough, with roots that can survive and thrive in that small strip, and leaves well adapted to the south facing sun. Barbecue or upright rosemary will get up to six feet tall and will break up the feeling that the wall is a solid mass of white. I have several in a similar situation, and they do great. They are also honestly upright--and will not reach out and grab pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Alternatively, you also might think about placing a couple of raised planters inside the wall and having some trailing rosemary that cascades over. That would be more work than planting outside the wall, but not nearly as labor-intensive as trying to maintain a lattice.
If you are determined to use a vine, you might take a look at Boston ivy, parthenocissus tricuspidata. This is the ivy of the Ivy League, and has far better manners than Algerian ivy. I'd ask locally, however, to see if it would take kindly to the brutal conditions of your superheated wall.

Kay


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by nil13 z21 Mt. Washington L (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 11:20

passiflora? i don't think you would suggest that if you had battled it's invasiveness the way I have. what a nightmare.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 16:49

Star Jasmine--without support, would this climb the stucco wall? No.

I have Parthenocissus tricuspidata on my stucco wall. Once every few years I pull it all off the wall and leave a bit about 12" tall. It grows back and covers the wall again. That's it for maintenance. The foliage turns a beautiful red in autumn. A lot of the year it makes the wall look like a neatly trimmed green hedge. In winter the bare stems make a cool pattern on the wall.

Photobucket

Photobucket

One or two plants would cover your wall nicely. If you want something smaller and slower growing, and mostly evergreen, use Parthenocissus 'Hacienda Creeper'.

This post was edited by hoovb on Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 17:02


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by jjjb 9b/18 I think (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 3:36

We had Parthenocissus on the front of our home in Michigan. I don't know which species...... it was already lush and beautiful when we bought the house. I absolutely loved the deep green in the summer and the scarlet/orange hues in the fall.
Little did I know that the plant attaches itself to the wall(we had brick on lower part of the house and aluminum siding on the upper part) with these tiny little dark sticky dots which are almost impossible to get rid of in case you ever decide you don't like the plant.
So from Dec to March the walls would be devoid of leaves and all the little black dots would be very obvious (as in one of the pics above).
We had part of the front of the house renovated and had to get rid of the ivy. It left these sticky dots all over the rest of the wall and believe me, we tried EVERYTHING to get rid of them, including power washing and NOTHING worked.
We eventually managed to sell the house in spite of the sticky black dots. I have no idea how the ivy grows in California but it's something to think about and be aware of.
Good luck with whatever decision you make.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 11:29

That is very true, there are black dots. Always a trade off--what can you better tolerate--black dots, or constant pruning?

Here where it is so much drier than Michigan, they do not stay sticky. Too dry. I've scraped them off easily with a putty knife, but on a south facing wall the dots shrivel to the point of flaking off eventually by themselves.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Thank you all for your input!
Hubby and I are leaning towards the parthenocissus for the majority of the wall planted somewhere near the right (front) end. But I'm not sure which species would do well in my climate zone and in these conditions where the sun would be on that section for the entire day. Also, if those sticky suckers flake off, will the plant be at risk of falling off the wall?

Also, I'd still like to do one bougainvillea on the opposite corner. Anyone have tips for pruning to keep it the shape I want? I'd like to have it climb up the wall at the corner and then most trail across the top section of the wall. In this situation where it will be attaching itself to the wall, how can I help direct its growth since there's nothing to tie pieces to as one would if growing on a trellis.

Would also appreciate help on choosing a bougainvillea veiety suitable to this location/climate. I'm hoping "Orange Ice" will work because I really love the colors.

Should I purchase online or would local nursery be better to ensure getting plants that are best for my area?


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Hoovb, that indeed is fantastic news if the ivy dots flake off in this dry weather. Yoohoo. I too have a south-facing as well as as east-facing wall in the backyard I would like to cover up. Does the ivy change to beautiful orange-red color in the fall in California as well? That would be lovely.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Dandylioness, the bougainvillea will not attach itself to the wall. You will have to drill some holes and put in some eyebolts and use ties if you want to train it along the top. The main tip for training it is to wear heavy leather gloves, or preferably gauntlets, because it has big thorns. The other thing you should know about bougies is that their roots are like jello. I kid you not- their roots are so fragile that many people leave them in the nursery pot and just cut the bottom off to prevent all the roots from breaking off when you take the plant out of the pot. The first time I bought one I grabbed the stem and yanked the plant right off of the root ball, which remained in the pot. Even if you lay the plant on its side and ease it out of the pot you often lose half the rootball. So take your time and be very careful with that. Sorry I don't know anything about varieties.

Definitely buy locally. The plants will be much bigger and you will be able to choose healthy specimens.

Good luck!


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 26, 13 at 22:26

Bougainvillea in a Sunset zone 14 without benefit of a roof overhand will tend to get freeze damage every winter. The deep red or purple cultivars are the hardiest to cold. Boston Ivy will definitely turn color in fall, and can easily handle full hot south facing walls if it receives irrigation initially to get it established. Plant the Bougainvillea if you have your heart set on it, but I think you'll find it isn't the best vine for that spot. If you're willing to add lag screws to the wall with wire supports, another fast growing annual vine that gives brilliant color over a long season that could complement the green of the Boston Ivy is Black-eyed Susan Vine, Thunbergia alata. It will freeze every winter, but may be root hardy in your area, and is so fast growing once it warms back up again, and gives a wall of orange color similar to Bougainvillea.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 11:12

Thank you all for your input!
Hubby and I are leaning towards the parthenocissus for the majority of the wall planted somewhere near the right (front) end. But I'm not sure which species would do well in my climate zone and in these conditions where the sun would be on that section for the entire day.
Mine is fine with sun hitting it the entire day. If the leaves look scorched, water a bit more. Avoid P. quinquefolia (Viginia creeper) because it is too rampant. Named varieties of other species will be more tame. Expect a year or two to establish a good root system before the plant really takes off, but you should get some coverage the first year.

Also, if those sticky suckers flake off, will the plant be at risk of falling off the wall? No. If some bit of the plant accidentally gets pulled off the wall, just cut that part off because it won't re-attach. A new bit will grow and stick on its own.

Also, I'd still like to do one bougainvillea on the opposite corner. Anyone have tips for pruning to keep it the shape I want? Use a hedge trimmer and just shear it close to the wall. Bougies bloom on new growth, so new growth = flowers, so cutting back = more flowers, not less (within reason). Do not trim a baby plant too much. Let it establish.

I'd like to have it climb up the wall at the corner and then most trail across the top section of the wall. In this situation where it will be attaching itself to the wall, how can I help direct its growth since there's nothing to tie pieces to as one would if growing on a trellis. Bougies won't attach themselves. You will have to install some strong wires or a trellis and use them to attach.

Would also appreciate help on choosing a bougainvillea veiety suitable to this location/climate. I'm hoping "Orange Ice" will work because I really love the colors.
A non-red color will be much less rampant and would be a good choice. Check on performance for that particular variety in your area--have you seen one growing in your neighborhood that looks good? Plant bougies in June or July when the soil is warm and do not disturb the rootball. Baby bougies are easily killed because the roots are so frail and brittle and need warmth. Established bougies are nearly impossible to kill. For planting slit the planting pot up, place the pot in the planting hole and gently pull out the pieces of the pot, leaving the roots as undisturbed as you can.

Should I purchase online or would local nursery be better to ensure getting plants that are best for my area? If you have a good quality garden center nearby, that should be fine. Neither genus is particularly rare or hard to find.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Can you put up some wire trellis across the wall to allow a gentler climber? The more aggressive climbers will also damage your wall. I think you could achieve the lattice look with the star jasmine if you criss cross wires. I was not under the impression that it needs a lot of water, mine does not seem to be demanding of water but my soil is more clay.


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

It's also an option (lower maintenance) instead of a vine to use narrow plantings in front of the wall, camellias can be pruned flat along a wall but this spot is too hot and sunny I think. Maybe Nandina?


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

I would choose anything but ivy for the reason that is clings and will upset the paint. Wisteria is what I have switched to.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nice example


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RE: Please Help me choose vine(s) for South Wall

Pyracantha is also nice. White flowers in the spring and red berries in the winter.


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