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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.

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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.

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Friday - May 21, 2010

From: Charlottesville, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs, Vines
Title: Plant to hang over and cover a wall
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

HI! this is a stumper for me! I have a 6 foot wall bracing a hill on one side and a lawn on the other. It is currently cement and I would like to find something to cover it --evergreen would be the best--and I would also like to find something to plant above that might spill over without causing root damage to the wall. I had thought of wisteria, but have been told that the roots would eventually ruin the wall. Wouldn't mind a flower, but don't want to go to orange/red/yellow colors. The house is a strong red brick. Thanks for your help, Deborah Adair.

ANSWER:

Instead of planting at the top and letting the vine spill over, you would probably be better off to plant the vine at the bottom of the wall to climb it.  The roots are less likely to harm the wall if they are growing down at the bottom of the wall rather than down beside the wall at the top.  Two of the evergreen vines that are attractive do have red flowers.  These are Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) and Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle). Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower), another evergreen vine, has yellow blossoms.  Smilax smallii (lanceleaf greenbrier) is another evergreen with inconspicuous yellow or green flowers.  There are several non-evergreen vines with that would be attractive, e.g., Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Passiflora incarnata (purple passionflower), and Clematis virginiana (devil's darning needles). You can see more possibilities for native vines for Virginia by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plants Database and choosing 'Virginia' in the Select State or Province box and 'Vine" in the Habit (general appearance) area.

Have you considered planting something in front of the wall to hide it? Here are both evergreen and decidious shrubs native to your area:

Evergreen

Ilex glabra (inkberry)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Deciduous

Clethra alnifolia (coastal sweetpepperbush)

Lonicera dioica (limber honeysuckle)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Photinia pyrifolia (red chokeberry)

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood)

To find more possibilities for shrubs, do the COMBINATION SEARCH as desribed above substituting 'Shrub' for 'Vine' in your search.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of some of the plants above:


Lonicera sempervirens

Gelsemium sempervirens

Smilax smallii

Clematis virginiana

Parthenocissus heptaphylla

Ilex glabra

Morella cerifera

Clethra alnifolia

Lonicera dioica

Physocarpus opulifolius

Photinia pyrifolia

Viburnum dentatum

 

 

 

 

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