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

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Thursday - June 17, 2010

From: St Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Vines
Title: Native evergreen vine for St. Paul MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a native vine that will stay green, or at least keep its leaves, throughout the winter. The vine will be grown on a trellis between our house and our neighbor's, and we want to keep up a privacy screen through winter. The area is sheltered, so has some winter protection. I was hoping there might be a native clematis or honeysuckle that would qualify? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants really hates it when he can't live up to expectations, but it strikes us as unlikely that there are many vines that will even LIVE through your winters, much less be evergreen. St. Paul appears to be in USDA Hardiness Zone 4a with average annual minimal temperatures of -30 to -25 deg. F. We went first to our Recommended Species section, clicking on Minnesota on the map and then searching on "vine" for the General appearance and "perennial" for Duration. This yielded Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) and Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), both of which are native in and around Ramsey County and deciduous.

In hopes of more results,we next looked at our Native Plant Database, searching on Minnesota and "vine" for General Appearance, to see what other possibilities there are. There are two species of the genus Clematis, Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis (western blue virginsbower) and  Clematis virginiana (devil's darning needles) and one of genus Lonicera (honeysuckle), Lonicera hirsuta (hairy honeysuckle) also all native to the area around Ramsey County and all, alas, deciduous. You can follow each plant link to the page in our Native Plant Database for that plant and learn when it blooms and what color, what kind of sunlight it needs, soil, etc. 

In fact, there are very few vines that are evergreen, period, even in Texas. Consider that vines grow on skinny  long branches, very exposed when cold weather comes. They die back to the ground, where the warmth of the soil permits the roots to survive to emerge again in the Spring. 

Pictures of Lonicera hirsuta (hairy honeysuckle)from Google. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Celastrus scandens

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Clematis occidentalis var. occidentalis

Clematis virginiana

 

 

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