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
1 rating

Saturday - September 19, 2009

From: Wynantskill, NY
Region: Select Region
Topic: Vines
Title: Attractive Native Vines to Cover a Chain Link Fence in Upstate New York
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Upstate NY (Albany) and my yard is bordered by an old chain link fence. I would like to cover the fence with a natural looking plant (I assume Ivy). What do you recommend I use? I am obviously looking for something that will stay year round, grow quickly, and cover thick. Most of the yard gets 1/2 day of direct sun but there are some shady spots.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is devoted to the preservation and cultivation of North American native plant species. Exotic species that have been introduced to the United States from elsewhere in the world may be so invasive as to wipe out native species. We also find indigenous plants less difficult to maintain in their native habitat. By ivy, I assume you mean the commonly seen English ivy, which is not a native plant. You may want to read more about its invasive nature on this Invasive Plant site.  

Luckily, there are a number of vines native to your area thriving in full or partial sun that should provide an attractive cover for your chain link fence. One of the most popular, Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle), is widely available. Its delicate orange blossoms that attract hummingbirds appear early through mid-summer. A similar appearing species, Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) produces dense foliage and, from June through September, brilliant orange blossoms particularly attractive to hummingbirds. This is an aggressive vine that will need discouragement from inserting itself in a lawn (just mow it), climbing a near-by tree, or visiting the neighbors. However, spring pruning may increase its density on the fence, where you most want it.  Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) is more known for its bright orange berries than its blossoms. The vines with berries attached are commonly used for fall decoration. Take care you do not purchase a commercially sold, invasive Asian exotic described at this hot link Oriental bittersweet. A form of legume,  Clitoria mariana (Atlantic pigeonwings) produces blue or pink blossoms from June through August. Clematis virginiana (devil's darning needles) has beautiful white blossoms from July to September, but keep in mind that all parts of this plant are toxic. Another popular landscape native, Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria), also has imported Asian varieties you want to avoid. The lovely fragrant purple flowers appear in May and June. One of these vines should nicely cover your chain link fence. The Federal Highway Administration also has a complete list of native plants for New York State, including vines.

Check our supplier list for a native plant nursery near you in Upstate New York. When you have your fence planting well established, send Mr. Smarty Plants a picture so we can see how it turned out!


Lonicera sempervirens

Campsis radicans

Celastrus scandens

Clitoria mariana

Clematis virginiana

Wisteria frutescens

 

 

More Vines Questions

Oak trees shedding leaves in Denton TX
May 27, 2012 - In Denton, TX we have two mature Quercus buckleyi. It is May 11th 2012 and one of these trees has been shedding green leaves for the last week. The only changes we have made are: planted English ivy...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine with yellow flowers in Nevada
August 10, 2014 - A flowering vine started growing in our Henderson back yard about 2 months ago. It has variegated green leaves & yellow flowers. We decided not to pull it out & now it's spreading. I've looked on v...
view the full question and answer

Vine for privacy on a deck in Southern California
December 10, 2009 - I am looking for a climbing vine/plant that is non-flowering and can be grown year round in Southern California. We are looking to help create a private area along a deck for my grandmother because h...
view the full question and answer

Florida hanging vine with occasional red tongue-like leaves
December 01, 2011 - I live in south Florida and I used to grow a hanging vine that had green slender leaves and an occasional red leaf that looked like a tongue that protruded horizontally from the plant. do you know wha...
view the full question and answer

Report on object glowing in tree in New Hampshire
August 04, 2013 - Hello again Mr Smartpants. I commented about a purple glow coming from a tree in previous comments. Since then they have multiplied and are spreading to different trees. We believe we may have it narr...
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