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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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Saturday - March 02, 2013

From: Birmingham, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Vines
Title: Front Door Vine in Alabama
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Birmingham, AL in a large-scale, white brick, French-style home. I would like to have a vine over my front door. I don't want an invasive vine (seed pods that create new vines or attaches to brick and damages it). I want it to climb a provided trellis and be an evergreen vine. I would like blooms but prefer the blooms to not attract too many bees, etc. as it will be around my front door. I would consider a climbing rose as well. I am having trouble finding the right fit and would appreciate your advice. This area gets morning sun until about 1 p.m. when the sun is behind my house. I think the soil is sandy loam, but I could also plant it in a pot. If the vine is planted in the ground the base will be shaded at most times due to a flare in the front steps and other plantings but the vine itself will get lots of sun.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Alabama, Habit – vine, Duration – perennial, Leaf Retention – evergreen, Light Requirement – sun and part shade, Soil Moisture – moist. You can narrow down this search further by indicating blooming time and bloom color too.

This search criteria will give you five vines to consider. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Here are the five vines that came up for your customized search...

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) is a vigorous clinging vine that climbs using tendrils.  Semi-evergreen leaves. Orange-red blooms attract hummingbirds.

Gelsemium rankinii (swamp jessamine) is very similar to Carolina Jessamine but tolerates wet conditions better.

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) is a twining not a clinging vine and needs a support to grow up.

Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle) is semi-evergreen and also attracts hummingbirds. Twining and needs a structure to grow up.

Smilax smallii (lanceleaf greenbrier) is thornless and is a twining plant.

The crossvine will take the driest soil conditions. All of these vines do flower and will attract some bees at certain times of the year. To learn more about invasive species in Alabama, take a look at The Nature Conservancy website for your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Lanceleaf greenbrier
Smilax smallii

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