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Sunday - March 27, 2011

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Non-flowering deciduous vine for Phoenix AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Are there any non-flowering deciduous vines native to the Southwest? I'd like to plant them to shade our windows in the hot Phoenix summers. If only perennials are available, can I cut it back each winter?


First, can we talk about the difference between "perennial" and "deciduous?" A plant can be perennial and evergreen or perennial and deciduous. Annuals are neither; having achieved their mission of blooming and dropping seeds for propagation, they die. Most vines are perennial and deciduous, and all vines can be trimmed  in the winter. Vines are not very attractive in the winter, so you might as well cut them back. Just leave some of those canes in place so you'll remember where the vine is and not pull the first little green sprouts out thinking it's a weed. The vine should come back stronger and healthier.

Next, let's talk about using vines to shade windows. They are going to have to have some kind of supports, wires, trellis, whatever in order to climb up to the top of the window. A vine's natural inclination is to run along the ground, which is not what you had in mind. Some vines twine to climb, some have stick-tights to hold onto a surface, but you probably don't want them clinging to your house siding or window screen. And, last word, plants bloom. Their prime directive is to grow up high enough to get some sun, out-compete plants around them for nutrients and water, all so they can bloom, set seed, drop same and ensure that there will be more like themselves.

So, we're going to go to our Native Plant Database, select Arizona and use the sidebar to select on "vine" for General Appearance. We also selected on "sun" under Light Requirements and "dry" under Soil Moisture, just guessing that those were the conditions that you are dealing with. When we clicked on "Combination Search" we got 7 possibilities. Of those, we picked 3 that we thought had a good chance of filling your requirements (except for the non-blooming part). Remember that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends only plants native to North America and to the area in which those plants are being grown. Plants already accustomed to the climate, environment, rainfall and temperatures by centuries of experience will be more likely to survive and to consume less in resources. We will also link you to the USDA Plant Profile Map on each plant so you can see if it grows in or near Maricopa County and therefore will have a better chance.

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn about its Growing Conditions, expected size and soil preferences.

Parthenocissus vitacea (Hiedra creeper) USDA Plant Profile, does grow in Maricopa County, will grow in sun, part shade or shade, deciduous. Blooms white, yellow, green, brown May to July. More information from Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences. Pictures from Google.

Lonicera albiflora (Western white honeysuckle) USDA Plant Profile shows it does not grow in Maricopa County but does grow in county next to it, so would probably be all right. Blooms white March to May.  Deciduous, sun or part shade. More information from Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences.

Clematis drummondii (Drummond's clematis), USDA Plant Profile shows it grows in Maricopa County. Deciduous, blooms white April to September, sun or part shade. More information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Lonicera albiflora

Lonicera albiflora

Clematis drummondii

Clematis drummondii






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