How to choose the right vine

You can use vines to beat the heat withgreenery, reducing your electricity bills and more.  

The tropics offer us a dazzling array of flowering, foliage, and vegetable vines to choose from, so whether you have a large garden or an apartment balcony, you can find just the right vine for your situation. In large gardens, vines can be used to make dividers between sections or to cover an arch or pergola leading from one part of the garden to another.

In balcony gardens, vines — since they grow upwards rather than outwards — help you make optimal use of vertical space. Below are outlined some of the ways in which you can use vines in your landscape; part 2 of this article will describe some of the vines and how and where to grow them.

You can use vines to beat the heat with greenery, reducing your electricity bills; create privacy with a green screen or a flower wall; disguise unsightly pipes and fixtures or beautify a grille; cover a patio or carport roof; or make ground covers.

Reducing temperatures ( and electricity bills): Sun beating down on open terraces and concrete-paved surfaces can make a house uncomfortably hot. Instead of reaching for the air conditioner switch, try growing a creeper to cool the place. In our government quarters in New Delhi, the heat reflecting off a large concreted area adjoining the enclosed front verandah made it impossible to use the verandah. But temperatures inside dropped dramatically when we roofed over the paved area with chicken wire and grew a dense creeper (blue-flowered sky vine, Thunbergia grandiflora) on it. This also gave us a bonus by attracting birds and birdsong: a bulbul pair nested in the creeper and sang sweetly; a sunbird hung her teardrop-shaped nest from it as well. A peahen even thought the trellis a ready-made nest and laid an egg on top of it (alas, it fell down and broke)!

Creating privacy: A trellis covered with a creeper makes an attractive and inexpensive screen to ensure privacy. A light foliage creeper, such as Asparagus plumosus with its delicate fern-like leaves, will create a cool green space; a flowering vine, such as red passion flower ( Passiflora coccinea) or yellow Bignonia gracilis,will build a dramatic flower wall.

Disguising unsightly fixtures: Many utilitarian fixtures, such as drainpipes on an outside wall, though essential, can be downright ugly. Turn a drainpipe into a flower column by training a creeper such as black-eyed susan ( Thunbergia alata) or morning glory ( Ipomea violacea)up it. Or soften the lines of a heavy grille by threading a blue-flowered Jacquemontia vine through it.

Roofing patio or carport: Patios and carports can get quite hot if they are roofed with asbestos or fibreglass sheets. Covering them with a flowering vine such as silver lace vine ( Polygonum aubertii) or garlic creeper ( Adenocalema ) will at once cool and beautify them.

If you want to enjoy the flowers when you sit on your patio, install a wire mesh (or make your own with crisscrossed wires) under the sheets.Train the vine up one of the supporting pillars and let it spread out horizontally across the mesh. This is the best way to display vines whose flowers hang down in streamers, such as the recently introduced jade vine with long streamers of turquoise flowers, or our own Thunbergia mysorensis with its orange and yellow flowers.

Making ground covers: Velvety green lawns are lovely, soothing the eye and calming the spirit. But they need vast quantities of water and constant maintenance. Consider using creepers as alternative ground covers. A vigorously growing vine, such as perennial morning glory or railway creeper, can quickly cover an area and needs hardly any maintenance. Since vines naturally grow upwards, you may need to peg them down when you use them as ground covers.

(to be continued)

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 9:22:23 AM |

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