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?


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

Sunday - June 14, 2009

From: Keller, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Vine for limited space, part-shade fence in N. Texas
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe


I have a narrow strip of yard (about 3ft) between my covered patio and privacy fence. Since the fence itself lacks visual interest, I'd like to find a vine to grow on the fence to give the background to my patio area some "life." I would like something that will not destroy the fence (like Wisteria tends to do) and something that clings pretty tight since there is not much room for the vine to grow out from the fence. I'm most interested in an evergreen with flowers, but have also considered Boston Ivy since its fall color is interesting. This area receives partial shade most of the day and hot Western sun for a few hours in the late afternoon. Would love to hear your suggestions?


At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America and particularly to the area where they have been confirmed as native species, so our answer springs from that basis.

Two suggestions come to mind which may work for you in this location. Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower), – aka Carolina Jessamine – is a pretty, well-behaved, evergreen vine, with fragrant blooms early in the season. Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) – aka Coral Honeysuckle –is a moderate-sized vine, has attractive flowers, and is non-invasive. It is semi-evergreen – some winters it keeps quite a bit of greenery and may even flower; other winters it looks nearly dormant.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) has attractive fall foliage, but isn't noted for its flower and can become hard to keep from spreading. Clematis virginiana (devil's darning needles) is another versatile vine with profuse white flowers, but deciduous. NOT a good choice for this space is Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) a popular floweriing evergreen, but quite a vigorous climber and extender.

There are some small re-seeding annuals and herbaceous perennials that could provide some interest for your fence. Clematis pitcheri (bluebill), Clematis texensis (scarlet leather flower), and Maurandella antirrhiniflora (roving sailor) are wonderful little Texas vines. They could be secondary vines along with Carolina Jessamine or Coral Honeysuckle. They are not always easy to find for purchase, but are very much worth looking for.


Gelsemium sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens

Clematis virginiana

Parthenocissus quinquefolia


Clematis pitcheri

Clematis texensis

Maurandella antirrhiniflora

More Vines Questions

Failure to bloom of Campsis radicans in Elkins WV
June 28, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We live in a very cool climate of West Virginia, in the mountains, and it seems impossible for our Campsis radicans vines to flower! Perhaps the growing season is too short? W...
view the full question and answer

How to get Poison Ivy?
November 22, 2015 - I know this is a silly question but we have a lot of poison ivy in the area and I know that birds eat the seeds and berries, can you get poison ivy from bird poop or track it in the house? From shoes ...
view the full question and answer

Vine for shady planter from Cedar Park TX
April 19, 2014 - We bought a home in Central Texas and inherited several raised-bed planters. One of the planters is set up to grow a vine, but it's in a part of the yard that is mostly in the shade of a tree. Is t...
view the full question and answer

Question about male muscadine plants
June 01, 2012 - I have 9 muscadine plants, 3 females and 6 perfect flowered growing in my yard. A plant started growing under my porch lst year and it grew through the spaces between the boards. It grew nicely. It fl...
view the full question and answer

Climbing vines that are deer resistant
July 12, 2013 - Please find plants that are climbing vines and are deer resistant
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center