En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 17, 2014

From: Haverhill, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Vines
Title: Vine to cover fence from Haverhill MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I'm looking for a fast growing vine to cover a chain link fence. The area is sunny half of the day. I have 2 small children so I don't want something that attracts bees or could be dangerous to touch. I don't care about flowering although that would be nice, mostly looking for coverage, safety and something that doesn't require too much attention and care! Please help!!

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants will be grown; in your case, Essex County, on the northeastern border of the state. We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down the page to the "Combination Search and, using the selection list on the right-hand side of that page, choose Massachusetts, vine for HABIT and part shade (2 to 6 hours a day of sun) under LIGHT REQUIREMENTS and click on NARROW YOUR CHOICE. To begin with your request for child safe plants: The following vines native to Massachusetts all had this or a similar warning on their webpages.

"Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Severe pain in mouth if eaten; skin irritation if touched or inhaled. Symptoms include burning sensation of mouth and mouth ulcers; skin redness and burning sensation."

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)

Clematis occidentalis (Western blue virginsbower)

Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis (Purple clematis)

Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles)

Menispermum canadense (Common moonseed)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy)

Why so many vines have poisonous parts is a mystery to us, and an eye-opener. Here are the native Massachusetts vines without similar warnings:

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria)

Vitis riparia (Riverbank grape)

You might not be too pleased with the last two as they could be messy in your yard. On the webpage for Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is this statement:

"Flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Fruits attract quail, Purple Finch, Goldfinch, Hermit Thrush, American Robin."

Under the circumstances, you might choose to use small shrubs or tall grasses to disguise the fence, at least until your children are older.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

American wisteria
Wisteria frutescens

Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia

American bittersweet
Celastrus scandens

Western blue virginsbower
Clematis occidentalis

Purple clematis
Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Common moonseed
Menispermum canadense

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Eastern poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans

Riverbank grape
Vitis riparia

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Shade trees for horses in Merced, CA
January 21, 2011 - I would like to plant some trees to provide shade for horses in the pasture. What native trees are drought resistant (water may be spotty in the summer) yet safe for the animals? I live in the Calif...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for sun/part shade in Austin
May 07, 2008 - I live in Southwest Austin and I have a small backyard that has part sun/part shade. I have no grass in the backyard and my soil is not the healthiest, so I would like to plant some groundcover versus...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a shady front border in Ohio
April 28, 2010 - My front flower bed faces the North. For the past 2 yrs. I lost 5-6 perennials. What can I plant that will make it with little sun. I don't want hostas nor ferns, nor short ground covers. I want col...
view the full question and answer

Suggestion for plants to replace grass in semi-shade in NY
February 01, 2008 - I have an area that is in semi-shade but gets about 4-5 hours of sunlight in the summer. Instead of grass I would like to perhaps use wild flowers or even prairie type grasses. Any suggestions??
view the full question and answer

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center