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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 - March 12, 2015

From: Palmdale, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Poisonous Plants, Vines
Title: Non-Toxic Flowering Vine for Sunny Trellis in California
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am looking for a flowering trellis plant that is non-toxic to my dog, will grow in the California area that I live in, and will be in full sun.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential vines for your sunny California garden 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: CA, Habit – Vine, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Moist, and Size – 3-12 feet. Once you have this list of vines, then it is time to further refine your criteria and look at their blooming habit, leaf characteristics and pet toxicity.

Unfortunately, your criteria for a flowering trellis plant, native to California that will grow in the sun only resulted in one plant – Lonicera hispidula (pink honeysuckle). This twining vine has a shrublike habit and is deciduous to semi-evergreen. It has attractive pink, rose or purple flowers in the spring and summer and decorative red berries in the fall. The flowers attract hummingbirds and the berries attract birds. The berries are mildly poisonous if eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size.

There are several other resources that you might use to find native California plants that can be used as vines. The Las Pilitas Nursery website is one to check. Besides Lonicera hispidula, they also list some non-vines that can be creatively used as vines.

Once you have a list of potential plants, the next step is to see if they are toxic to dogs. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has an excellent website that lists plants that are toxic or non-toxic to pets. So looking at the ASPCA page for Lonicera (honeysuckle) did not show any reference of this plant being toxic to dogs (or those non-toxic either).

 

From the Image Gallery


Pink honeysuckle
Lonicera hispidula

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