Shade-Tolerant Vines for Garden Obelisks

It’s not possible in every yard to put a garden obelisks in a spot that gets full-sun all day long. In those cases, use vines that are shade-tolerant to plant around your garden structures. These vines will happily grow and climb up obelisks, trellises, arbors, or pergolas, creating an element in your garden that is part artsy-sculpture, and part plant.

Although there are many vines that grow well in full sun, there are many that are less well-known that will grow well in partial to deep shade. Planted in ideal growing conditions, these vines will quickly cover any freestanding garden structure, like an obelisks, or produce a dense, living screen along a fence line.

In addition to planting them to scramble up obelisks, fast-growing vines are an ideal way to block an unsightly view or create privacy along a property line or outdoor living space.

Dutchman’s Pipe
Hardy through USDA Zone 4, dutchman’s pipe, known botanically as Aristolochia durior, is a tall, vining plant grown primarily for its heart-shaped, deep green, 6-to 10-inch leaves. Its produces mahogany and cream-colored flowers, but they are inconspicuous when they bloom in late spring.

Dutchman’s pipe grows up to 30 feet high in partial shade. It requires a strong trellis because it grows rapidly once it becomes established in your garden. Dutchman’s pipe withstands pollution well and is rarely bothered by pests or diseases.

Evergreen Smilax
A fast-growing evergreen vine, smilax, or Smilax lanceolata, grows up to 30 feet high, under ideal growing conditions. It grows equally well whether planted in sun or shade. A
fast-growing vine, it is know for quickly covering its support structure with its lance-shaped, deep green, glossy leaves.

Its flowers bloom from April to July and have a jasmine-like odor. Quarter inch, blackish-red berries mature in the plant’s second year of life. Evergreen simlax is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 8.

Climbing Hydrangea
A deciduous vine growing up to 60 feet high, climbing hydrangea, also known botanically as Decumaria barbara, isn’t a true hydrangea at all. Its common name comes from its white flowers, which are in broad, flat clusters, similar to those of hydrangeas.

Climbing hydrangea has aerial roots, which attach it to its support structure. These aerial roots are necessary for the plant to produce flowers. Climbing hydrangeas grow best in full sun to partial shade with rich, moist soil.

These are just a few vining plants that are suitable for growing on garden obelisks, trellises, arbors, and pergola in partial shade sites.

Copyright Sharon Sweeny, 2011

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