Q. I recently had a 6-foot chain link fence put up to divide my property. It looks boring and am wondering if you would able to suggest any vining plants that would grow along the fence to pretty it up. – W.C., Albuquerque
A. Four vining plants come to mind instantly for this project: silver lace vine, honeysuckle, trumpet vine and Virginia creeper. All have pros and cons to consider and these four aren’t your only options either, just a good place to start.
The silver lace vine is an easy to grow, relatively drought-tolerant, fast growing clinger. Planted close to the fence, it’ll use it as a trellis and easily cover up to 8 feet in width in just a few growing seasons. I don’t care for them too much, since they tend to keep their growth only on the outer edge, so to speak, allowing you a visual of lots of sticks as the plant grows up. It does have a good green color to the foliage and when it’s in bloom, it’s a riot of small, bright white blooms that the bees enjoy visiting.
Number two, honeysuckle or Lonicera japonica, is the honeysuckle that instantly comes to mine when you hear that word. The honeysuckle is a fast-growing twining plant that can, with the proper variety choice, offer lots of different colors. Not only to the flowers, but the foliage, too. There’s the traditional honeysuckle with the creamy yellow and white blooms and good green colored foliage.
Or you can find some that have a purple cast to the foliage and offer pale lavender and yellow blooms. All honeysuckles do grow really well here in our area.
Next, you could use the standard trumpet vine or Campsis radicans, which makes a thick, lush green wall of life. The blossom clusters are favored by hummingbirds and big bumblebees, giving you lots to watch. The traditional colored blooms are a brilliant orange-red, and newer varieties offer yellow and some come in a nifty lavender color.
Then, last on my list of four, consider the Virginia creeper or Parthenocissus quinquefolia. This fast, lovely green vining plant can easily cover your chain link in a few seasons. The green foliage disguises small bloom clusters of tiny white flowers that become purple berries, offering a great food source for our overwintering bird populations. Another great thing is the autumn color, a wall of lovely orange, red and burgundy.
All of the listed are considered deciduous, meaning they do drop their leaves each fall.
But the walls of green (variety dependent) they offer during growing season is terrific. Another nifty thing about any of these guys is their propagation abilities. Soon after you plant and do the initial twining of the stems through your chain link, you can lay an “arm” along the ground and it’ll sprout new sections of plant to fill in the fencing sooner.
So, you chose an arm and lay it near the fence. About a foot away from the mother plant. Then cleanly pinch off two to three sets of leaves as close to that stem as humanly possible without damaging the stem. Dust the spots with rooting powder and using pliable wire (a wire coat hanger cut into 6-to-8-inch long pieces works great) make a hairpin shape and push the pin over the stem to hold it in place at ground level. Then mound soil over the stem where you’ve dusted and pinned it to the ground. Make sure to sprinkle the mound and remember to water that spot periodically so the plant is encouraged to root.
Honeysuckle, trumpet vine and the Virginia creeper will take to this type of “stretching your dollar.” None of these plants are what I’d consider water pigs, but all will look and grow best if given deep water all through the growing season and the occasional watering during the winter.
Dear readers: In Albuquerque and our surrounding area, I’m asking that all of you sow some patience. In a little less than two months, Albuquerque will host the Balloon Fiesta. Yay!
Well, this year is a milestone anniversary for the fiesta and a lot of “extra” folks are planning on attending.
On that, truly, I’m asking that you sow some patience now. That way when it’s time we can have a healthy crop of patience grown to offer to everyone in this community and the visitors alike.
Stay safe and Happy Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to email@example.com.