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 - 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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

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


Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

More Watering Questions

Harvesting washer rinse cycle water from Austin
April 24, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My question is different. I am "harvesting" 8-9 gallons from the rinse cycle in my top loading washer. I was told not to use this water on vegetables, just shrubs and flowers...
view the full question and answer

Blackening of top growth of yaupon in Sunrise Beach TX
June 09, 2010 - My question regards a Will Flemming yaupon which I am thinking may be within your scope of expertise. These were recently planted under windy conditions, then hit with a neighbors antiquated jet type ...
view the full question and answer

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Opuntia drooping in Austin, TX
September 02, 2015 - I planted an optunia spp. in March. It has nearly tripled in size. This week, I noticed the entire plant has started to droop. Temperatures have been very high with no rain for weeks. The cactus is...
view the full question and answer

Patio plants suffering from heat in Austin
August 22, 2010 - My patio plants are burning up from the intense sun of Austin's August. Last year it even burned the leaves. Besides moving 40 plants to a shadier spot do you have suggestions on how to protect the...
view the full question and answer

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