Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 17, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Vines for a cliff in backyard
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a large (25 ft) cliff in my backyard. Its too large to use a retaining wall and occasionally some of the caliche slides down. I'm planning on planting vines at the top and letting them drape over the edge and cascade downward. Hopefully the greenery will help with erosion. I'm thinking of Carolina jessamine and coral honeysuckle. Both evergreen and aggressive growers. What do you think and do you have other ideas?

ANSWER:

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) and Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) are good choices, although they are going to do their bests to try and climb up something.  You might have to continually encourage them to trail down the cliff.  Here are some suggestions for vines that are a bit better at trailing.  They are all deciduous, however:

 Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) will happily trail down the cliff.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) will also be happy trailing down the cliff.  It can be an agressive plant and you may need to keep it in check.

Merremia dissecta (Noyau vine) climbs by twining but will also trail down retaining walls.  Here is more information and photos.


Gelsemium sempervirens


Gelsemium sempervirens


Lonicera sempervirens


Lonicera sempervirens


Parthenocissus quinquefolia


Parthenocissus quinquefolia


Campsis radicans


Campsis radicans

 

 

 

More Vines Questions

Transplanting a grapevine in San Antonio
May 20, 2009 - I planted a small grapevine that is growing well. I want to move it, (only tiny green grapes now, should be merlot) and wondering if I can do it now, mid May, or do I have to wait until fall? Not real...
view the full question and answer

Attractive Native Vines to Cover a Chain Link Fence in Upstate New York
September 19, 2009 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Upstate NY (Albany) and my yard is bordered by an old chain link fence. I would like to cover the fence with a natural looking plant (I assume Ivy). What do you ...
view the full question and answer

When to prune Texas Coral Honeysuckle in Iredell, TX?
January 31, 2012 - When can I prune Texas coral honeysuckle? It needs to be pruned so that it will fill out. Also, how much do I prune it? Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine in Pennsylvania
June 11, 2012 - I have several vine plants growing in my deck planters from last season. The leaves are 9 pointed, it looks more like 7, but there are 2 little points at the very bottom of the larger leaves. When t...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with red flower
April 14, 2008 - I have a "vine" that flowers. When it "blooms", it begins with a reddish/yellowish/orange ball about the side of a dime. The ball bursts open and a small red bloom emerges. It looks like a carn...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.