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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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Sunday - May 16, 2010

From: Pasadena, CA
Region: California
Topic: Vines
Title: Evergreen vine for wall in Pasadena CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I am looking for an evergreen vine to cover my block wall. I saw star jasmine kept really flowing and wild and loved it but I don't like the way it will look when It blooms. I want a vine that looks a little wild and unkempt and not flat on the wall. I don't mind bigger blooms on the vine either. We will use nails and wire or whatever it takes for the vine to grow to get the look we want and will add a trellis at the top to heighten the vine when needed. Thank you for your help!!

ANSWER:

We have a dilemma here; we have found a vine that fits your requirements very well and is native to North America. Bignonia capreolata (crossvine), however, grows natively no farther west than Texas and Oklahoma. Even Las Pilitas Nursery, our standby for plants native to California, does not list it. But, it would appear it could grow very well in Southern California. This Dave's Garden forum page on Crossvine indicates that it is known to grow in 5 California cities; 4 of those cities in Central California and the other in Orange County, next door to Los Angeles County. All of these areas are in USDA Zones 9a to 9b, pretty warm, while they grow very well here in Austin, in Zone 8b. 

Unfortunately, as often happens, the word "evergreen" in the specifications severely limits the number of native plants available. Very few vines are evergreen, and the sight of a deciduous vine in December is depressing, to say the least. We went to our Recommended Species section, searching for vines native to Southern California, and got the dreaded message: "Your search did not return any results." So, we went to the larger, more comprehensive Native Plant Database to search on California and vines, where we got 49 results. Of these, exactly 3 were decent-looking garden vines native to the Los Angeles County area, and not a single one was evergreen. 

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to an area will be acclimated by millennia of experience to the rainfall, temperatures and soils in that area, requiring little or no fertilizer and less water and mainenance. We also discourage planting non-natives because of the possibility of their becoming invasive in an area where they are without competition of predators. Or, of course, they could be unable to adjust, struggle for a few years, and then die. In California, in particular, we would caution watching very closely for invasiveness in any plant. Although the Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) is not considered particularly invasive, it does sucker and in an area with such a mild climate might begin to grow out of the area where you want it, and out of control.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bignonia capreolata

Clematis lasiantha

Lonicera hispidula

Vitis girdiana

 

 

 

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