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

Friday - April 13, 2012

From: Folsom, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening, Vines
Title: Folsom CA Wall-cover
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I live in Folsom, CA and I have an ugly cinder block wall that I want to cover, I want something that is low maintenance and that is going to grow and spread into my grass. The only one i can really think of to use is ivy, but my thumb is not very green yet, I love gardening just not very knowledgeable in it :) I have tried to do some research but, really haven't found anything that has been helpful.. thank you!

ANSWER:

When Mr Smarty Plants is looking for a wall-cover, his thoughts go to a nice native vine as they are low-maintenance and very likely to grow vigorously. You might plan to plant them on top and “train” them to cascade down, or plant them below and train them to go up & over.  I checked the recommended species for Northern California, then narrowed the search to just vines and found six good possibilities.   They are:

Aristolochia californica (California dutchman's pipe)

Calystegia occidentalis (Chaparral false bindweed)

Clematis lasiantha (Pipestem clematis)

Clematis ligusticifolia (Western white clematis)

Mahonia pinnata (Wavyleaf barberry)

Vitis californica (California grape)

I personally think the clematis’ have the nicer flowers, but then having California Wild Grapes would be a nice conversation piece!   What do you think?   Of course, if you prefer a shrub or maybe a ground cover, you can find the appropriate California native species with a similar search.

Want to become more knowledgeable about natives?  There is a local chapter fo the California Native Plant Society near you!  Another good choice is to become familiar with the local California Extension Office.

 

From the Image Gallery


Chaparral false bindweed
Calystegia occidentalis

Pipestem clematis
Clematis lasiantha

Pipestem clematis
Clematis lasiantha

Western white clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia

Western white clematis
Clematis ligusticifolia

More Vines Questions

Is Convolvulus equitans poisonous?
August 22, 2015 - Hello, Can you tell me if convolvulus equitans is poisonous? If so, can you tell me how poisonous and which parts are poisonous? I am considering putting this in my backyard but I have a dog and an...
view the full question and answer

Is purple bindweed good for a screen growing on a fence?
September 12, 2012 - We cleared a bunch of dead trees and tree limbs (mostly cedars and some oaks) on our semi-rural property in Driftwood and now we're left with an undesirable view onto the neighboring property. We're...
view the full question and answer

Are vines harmful to bricks and mortar?
July 09, 2010 - I am really fond of native vines such as crossvine, coral honeysuckle, American wisteria and carolina jessamine. I love the look of vines on walls and I would like to add this to a landscape design. ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vine growing in Naples Florida
September 15, 2014 - I live on country/residential property outside of Naples, Florida. This year I have had dozens of seedlings of some type of vine popping up all over. I have posted on a couple plant blogs looking for ...
view the full question and answer

California native vine
June 21, 2008 - Hello, I am looking for a california native vine that can "cover" a wrought iron fence. I would like a vine that does not require too much care and can handle a fair amount of sun exposure.
view the full question and answer

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