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
4 ratings

Wednesday - June 30, 2010

From: Eugene, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Native Vines for Pacific Northwest
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hello, I recently built a shed/pen for my large dog. I have a trellis horizontal above the fence to hide the shed from street. I live in Pacific NW. Do you have any suggestions on a nontoxic evergreen vine that does well in zone 4-6? I lost my star jasmine this year and I have snowdrift clematis (which sometimes I have lost also or it turns brown through winter) on my front fence and was hoping for something different. I love Boston ivy in the fall but I believe it isn't evergreen and I know English ivy is poisonous. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses solely on native plants. None of the vines you mention - star jasmine, snowdrift clematis, Boston ivy and English ivy - are native to North America. Although the clematis may be a cutivar of a native, it is listed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a non-native.

I applaud you for looking for native vines for your project. Because they are in an environment they love, natives are more likely to flourish where exotic plants either struggle to survive or are so aggressive that they crowd out native species thus reducing biodiversity. Natives will reward you with a beauty that is more likely to be hardy and require less maintenance. This article mentions some other advantages of going native in your landscape.

Use our database to explore the vines for yourself. To do that, click on Plant Database, then scroll down to Combination Search. Enter your state, perennial vines, and the amount of light and moisture in your planting site. Read descriptions carefully as native plants may have different requirements depending on whether you are east or west of the Cascade Mountains, and many vines have toxic parts. Likewise, you can find Suppliers of native plants on our site as well. Read how to plant natives here.

The following are some suggestions to provide a screen for your shed. All are non-toxic but may be deciduous. Two are pictured below and the rest on the links as indicated.

Lonicera ciliosa (orange honeysuckle) will produce red/orange blossoms that attract humingbirds from May to July.

Calystegia sepium (hedge false bindweed)looks like a white morning glory blooming from May to September, prolific to the point of being a pest. Provide plenty of space for spreading.

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine) blooms in various colors from May to July in any kind of soil and any amount of light. Photo here.

Rubus leucodermis (whitebark raspberry) complete with thorns that may prevent the dog from tearing it up. White or pink blossoms appear in April and May. Photo here.

Vitis riparia (riverbank grape) with fragrant yellow-green blossoms is a hardy and tolerant vine that is fast growing and long lived. Photo here.

Vitis californica (California wild grape) is an aggressive vine blooming fragrant yellow-green blossoms in May and June. This may require more maintenance than you want to do to keep it cut back. Photo here.

 

 

More Vines Questions

Invasive possibly non-native vine in Largo FL
October 03, 2009 - I have vines taking over my backyard, climbing all over the ground and up trees. The vines are huge, non-flowering giant leaves that look like elephant ears. What are these and how can they be contain...
view the full question and answer

How to prune wild mustang grape vines.
July 11, 2011 - Now that my mustang grapes are harvested. When can I trim them out of the tree top and redirect them to an arbor where I can reach them next year? The main vine is at least 3" across. The vines from...
view the full question and answer

What is the green pod on a trumpet vine
October 23, 2010 - I have a Trumpet Vine that bloomed for the first time this year. After the bloom season, I noticed a single pod hanging on the vine about the size of a large green bean. What is the purpose of this ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of a vine with red berries in Weatherford, Texas
October 17, 2014 - I have found a vine with red berries that I would appreciate an ID for. How can I send you a photo or two of it?
view the full question and answer

Safe to plant Wisteria frutescens near a foundation?
July 01, 2015 - I am interested in planting a Wisteria frutescens 'Nivea'. It will be next to a house foundation wall. Could you tell me what type of root system it has? Would it be a root that would dama...
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