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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native Vines for Pacific Northwest

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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.

 

 

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