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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 - January 23, 2016

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Vines
Title: Vine for Nevada Sunny Wall
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I want a non-invasive vine to grow on a block wall that receives approx 6-10 hrs of sun. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I want to put in a narrow walkway between our house and a block wall to add color as it is too narrow for bushes, etc.

ANSWER:

A search through the Native Plant Database turned up one native vine that grows in Nevada and will tolerate a sunny site between your house and block wall. It is Parthenocissus vitacea (Hiedra creeper). It is a perennial vine that will grow up the block wall if some support is provided. This vine, related to Virginia creeper, doesn't have sticky pads but climbs by using tendrils twining around another stem or wire. It perhaps may be too invasive for your site (you will have to determine this).

Here's what wikipedia has listed for the vine ...

It is a prolific climber, reaching heights of 20–30 m in the wild, using small branched tendrils with twining tips. The leaves are palmately compound, composed of five leaflets, and range from 3–20 cm across. The leaflets have a toothed margin.

The flowers are small and greenish, produced in clusters in late spring, and mature in late summer or early fall into small hard purplish-black berries 5–7 mm diameter. These berries contain oxalic acid, which is only very moderately poisonous. They provide an important winter food source for birds.

It is very closely related to Virginia Creeper (P. quinquefolia), differing only in its means of climbing, the tendrils twining around plant stems, not having the sticky pads found on the tendrils of Virginia Creeper. One consequence of this is that (unlike Virginia Creeper) it cannot climb smooth walls, only through shrubs and trees. The leaf shape, and also the brilliant fall colors, are indistinguishable from Virginia Creeper.

 

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