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Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Climbing vines non-damaging to walls in Round Rock, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Will fig vine tendrils grow into a stucco wall? Is there any climbing vine that won't damage a stucco wall over time?

ANSWER:

Please don't even consider Ficus pumila (climbing fig). Regardless of where you plant it, it will go wherever it wants, including up trees, which it will choke to death. It will strip the paint off wooden structures, and stain and damage brick walls. It exudes a sticky substance to hold it to walls, and stucco wouldn't stand a chance. On top of that, it is native to China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. One of the reasons for this is the danger of a non-native becoming invasive in an environment, like Texas, where it has no natural inhibitors. If you don't believe us, read the negative comments in this Dave's Garden Forum on Ficus pumila.

We looked at some vines that are native to Central Texas to see if there were any viable choices. The first one is Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper). Read what our page on this plant says about it:

"This vine is often cultivated for its attractive flowers and can escape cultivation. It climbs by means of aeriel rootlets on the stem and can be undesirably aggressive in the South. In fallow fields its prostrate stems - for which it is sometimes called Devils Shoestrings - stretch for many feet, sometimes tripping unwary walkers. Another common name, Hellvine, reflects the opinion of some people regarding the plant." Probably want to scratch that one.

Clematis pitcheri (bluebill) and Clematis texensis (scarlet leather flower) will grow to about 8 or 9 feet tall, climbing by twining petioles, which would mean you would need some sort of wire netting or framework for them to climb. They are deciduous and die back to the ground at first frost, but would not harm the stucco.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) is a not too aggressive, evergreen twining vine that attracts hummingbirds and, again, needs some sort of support to twine on, in order to climb. It wouldn't climb on the stucco without that support, but it wouldn't harm the stucco, either.

Another deciduous vine that needs an arbor or framework to climb is Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower). It climbs with axillary tendrils (needing support) and will spread by root suckers. It can be pretty invasive, also.

Deciduous and climbing or ground cover up to 40 ft., Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) can do well in sun or part shade. Here are some more notes from our webpage on this plant:

"Virginia Creeper can be used as a climbing vine or ground cover. Its tendrils end in adhesive-like tips, giving this vine the ability to cement itself to walls and therefore need no support. The presence of adhesive tips instead of penetrating rootlets also means it doesnt damage buildings the way some vines do. It is one of the earliest vines to color in the fall. A vigorous grower, it tolerates most soils and climatic conditions."

We're wondering if, instead of growing vines up your stucco wall, you might consider planting some Southwestern plants in front of it. Depending on the sun exposure and color of the stucco,here are a couple suggestions that might work. Follow the links to each webpage and find out bloom time, expected size, light and water requirements, etc. You can search for other plants for your purposes by going to our Recommended Species section, clicking on Central Texas on the map, and then selecting the Habit (herb, shrub, tree, etc.), light requirements, and so forth. 

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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