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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.

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

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Monday - April 12, 2010

From: San Jose, CA
Region: California
Topic: Vines
Title: Non-invasive, native vines for flood wall in San Jose CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was hoping you could help me with some information on vine selection. I am interested in selecting three vines for a flood wall application. Non-native species are acceptable, so long as they’re not invasive. Invasiveness is a major issue and the concern with the vines reseeding up or down stream is major. The vines will be very confined and will not be planted next to any other vegetation. Ideally one self adhering, deciduous vine to be used for most of the wall and two other ornamental evergreen vines for interest. The ornamentals will have a structure to climb on. All three should be vigorous and work to cover the wall quickly. Not in shady conditions or in moist soils. Thanks for your time and help on this issue.

ANSWER:

You may find non-native vines acceptable, but we do not. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Every plant is concentrated on one thing, which is reproducing itself. Therefore, every plant, except for those that are non-vascular, is going to be attempting to flower and thus produce seed and thus produce more of itself. We would consider this an even worse problem if you were considering non-native invasives, but you will still have difficulty containing the seeds. Depending on the size of the planting, dead-heading the blooms before they can go to seed is probably your best hope.  Of course, this usually results in heavier blooming as the plant continues to try to reproduce.

We will search in our Native Plant Database for vines native to the Central Coastal area of California, and see what is available that we could hope would not become invasive. There are two species of clematis native to your area, Clematis lasiantha (pipestem clematis) and Clematis ligusticifolia (western white clematis). Another native is Lonicera hispidula (pink honeysuckle).

Beyond this, we want to refer you to a wonderful resource in Southern California, Las Pilitas Nursery.  They specialize in plants native to California, and have many we do not yet have in our Native Plant Database, with information on care, light exposure and invasiveness on each plant. 

From Our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Clematis lasiantha

Clematis ligusticifolia

Lonicera hispidula

 

 

 

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