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?


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 - July 05, 2013

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Soils, Watering, Drought Tolerant, Vines
Title: Vine for full sun in Las Vegas NV
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Looking for vine to thrive in full sun in Las Vegas, NV. I tried Cape Honeysuckle and Star Jasmine and both died within 5 days. The leaves were burnt. What's your suggestion? Thank you.


Our first clue to your problem was the words "full sun." Full sun in Nevada, like Texas, is really SUN, big time. Many, if not most, vines prefer part shade, which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. If you think about it, you can understand why - vines are adapted to climb and in Nature, what do they climb? Trees, which provide a lot of shade 8 to 12 months of the year.

We will look for some vines in our Native Plant Database and already have a couple in mind that would probably not only love the sun but could even get invasive, so remember, you were warned. A word about the two vines you have tried:

1. Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) is native to South Africa. It is a member of the Bignoniaceae (trumpet creeper) family, and not even closely related to the Lonicera (honeysuckle) family. The USDA only reports it growing in Florida, where it is considered extremely invasive.

2. Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star or Confederate jasmine) is native to southeastern Asia and is also not really a member of the Jasminoides (Jasmine) family, but the Apocynaceae (Dogbane) family. More information and pictures from Floridata. USDA reports it growing in Louisiana and Florida.

If that explains why you could not grow your plants in Clark County NV, with very hot and dry weather in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, then we can move on to something native to your area, we hope. We went to our Native Plant Database, scrolled down to Combination Search and selected Nevada for State, "vine" for habit and "dry" for soil moisture. This produced precisely two vines:

Parthenocissus vitacea (Hiedra creeper) - more information and pictures from Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Rubus leucodermis (Whitebark raspberry) - Pictures from CalPhoto

Okay, I didn't think either of those were too promising, either, so let us go at it another way.This time I will go to the Native Plant Database and select only on "vine" and "dry" soil and maybe "sun." Then, we can follow the plant link to each page and see what vines there are that will work where you are, even if they haven't been reported as growing where you are. This gave us 23 vines, but of those we selected the two that we had already thought of up front. They are:

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) - evergreen

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) - deciduous

Here are the growing conditions for Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine), which would be our first choice because it is evergreen.

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, acidic or calcareous soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Some shade is tolerated, but the best flowering is achieved in full sun. Tolerates brief flooding."

The conditions for the Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) are almost identical, except that it is deciduous. What we are seeing here is that you can grow in a lot of different soils, but must plant in such a way that the roots can be kept moist. Here are the Propagation Instructions for Crossvine:


Propagation Material: Root Cuttings , Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Seed Collection: Collect the large, woody capsules from late summer through fall when they are light brown and beginning to dry. Seeds remain viable one year in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Seed requires no pretreatment.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Training to avoid crowding of stems will aid in the formation of flower shoots. Branches can be cut back in the spring to encourage flowering."

Your best bet would be to get a started small plant from a nursery, dig a hole and mix in some compost to help with any soil problems and keep watered, not soaked, by sticking a hose down in the hole and letting it dribble until the water comes to the surface about twice a week for a couple months, and then once a week after that. If you can overcome the dryness of your soil, the heat and the lack of rain, this should be a great plant for you.

Since the local nurseries have apparently felt no shame in selling you plants native to other countries, they should be able to sell you plants appropriate to, but not necessarily native to, Nevada. If not, go to our National Suppliers Directory, type your town, state or just your zipcode in the "Enter Search Location" box and click GO. This should give you a list of native plant suppliers, seed companies and consultants in your general area. All have contact information so you can inquire before you go shopping.


From the Image Gallery

Bignonia capreolata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Soils Questions

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Zinc tolerant plants for sunny area
June 08, 2012 - I have a very high zinc soil in an all day sun area. Any suggestions as to what kind of flower can I grow successfully? Zone 8 Thank you
view the full question and answer

Turf grass for a sandy site in central Texas
February 16, 2015 - I want to plant grass over an old sand volleyball court in our back yard in Bastrop, Texas. What is the best way to go? Adding top soil and buffalo grass seed or try St. Augustine?
view the full question and answer

Garden instructions from Austin
June 12, 2013 - I'm a beginning gardener putting in some new landscaping in my front yard in north central Austin, TX. The yard faces almost due east, so it gets full sun until early afternoon, when the house's sha...
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Grass Lawn with Moss
January 02, 2010 - I have a small north facing yard that I would like to change from grass to moss. There is some moss now but still lots of grass. I need to rake a lot of leaves in the fall but want to get away from a ...
view the full question and answer

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