En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - June 05, 2010

From: Anaheim Hills, CA
Region: California
Topic: Water Gardens, Compost and Mulch, Grasses or Grass-like, Vines
Title: Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to too much water. The wall the vine will be planted on faces West and gets sunlight and shade. Please help -- we're desperate!!!!

ANSWER:

Perhaps the very fact that you have already tried a number of vines is an indicator that you need to change your expectations and your plans.We believe that the problem is that the water falling constantly on the soil is drowning your roots. It's likely you have clay soil, which doesn't drain well at all, and with no compost or other organic material in it, the water is just going to sit there. There are two routes you can take: one, put in plants that can actually grow in watery soil. These won't be vines but they will be attractive and structural. Two, build a raised bed beneath the trellis, fill it with rich composted soil and plant your chosen vines in that. On each of our lists of suggested plants, follow the plant link to the page on that plant to learn what kind of soil it needs, how big it will get, whether it is evergreen, and when (or if) it blooms. 

First, let's look at the possibility of building a raised bed. Here is one article on the construction of such a bed from Popular Mechanics. Another take on the problem comes from About.com: Organic Gardening, Raised  Bed Gardens

We are going to continue on this line and look at vines native to Southern California, Orange County, and see what is available. These may be vines you have already started and they have died. Hopefully, once you have given them better dirt to live in, they will do well. Okay, now we remember. Once before, recently, we searched for a vine for Southern California, and it's pretty slim pickings. Most of the vines are more woodland plants, and are found north of you and on into Oregon and Washington State. However, we scored three:

Vines Native to Southern California:

Clematis lasiantha (pipestem clematis)

Lonicera hispidula (pink honeysuckle)

Vitis girdiana (desert wild grape)

Now, moving on to "water plants," we'll see what is native to your area that could manage standing in all that mushy soil all the time. These are all members of the genus Equisetum, are considered grass-like plants, and can be planted in pots submerged in ponds. They don't flower and they are not going to climb your trellis, but it's the best we can do at this point.

Equisetums native to Southern California:

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail)

Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth horsetail)

One last possibility, but you will be abandoning the trellis with vines climbing concept. Again,  build raised beds, and then plant attractive low shrubs and let the fountain water them in their new, well-drained bed.

Background Shrubs for Fountain in Southern California:

Calycanthus occidentalis (western sweetshrub)

Holodiscus discolor (oceanspray)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Rhododendron occidentale (western azalea)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Clematis lasiantha

Lonicera hispidula

Vitis girdiana

Equisetum arvense



Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Equisetum laevigatum

Calycanthus occidentalis

Holodiscus discolor

Mahonia repens

Rhododendron occidentale

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Vines Questions

Identify red-flowering vine in E. Texas
April 03, 2009 - Beside a well on an old homestead in Deep East Texas, there is a delicate vine. The leaves are heart shaped with points all the way around. The flower is a bright red trumpet shaped. I saw an angel ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen Vine for San Antonio Trellis
November 23, 2011 - I have a new trellis at the end of my patio on which I want to grow an evergreen vine. The area is fairly shady. I had settled on Carolina Jasmine, but read that it is very toxic which is worrisome ...
view the full question and answer

Rash resulting from cutting trees in NC.
May 08, 2012 - My boyfriend was cutting some trees yesterday. He had thorns in his hands after he was done, and today he has a rash on his legs, a fever and he feels like throwing up. Can you tell me if its symptoms...
view the full question and answer

Tough, Non-toxic Vine to Cover Fence in Washington
February 16, 2014 - I have about 150 feet of 6-foot high chain link fence that I would like to cover with a vine for privacy. I really want an evergreen or semi-evergreen plant that requires very little care. I also don...
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive vine in North Carolina
November 18, 2009 - Hi, I live in Piedmont NC, have vines that twine around my shrubbery and are impossible to pull out of the ground w/o breaking because they are so thin/delicate. The leaves are maple-like (3 lobes), ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center