Making an entrance with vines

June 30, 2021

We need to make an entrance with vines. This is an update to the project to develop a seating area between our swimming pool and the pond behind our property. The initial segment, called “How To Find A Low Maintenance Ground Cover That We Love And The Rabbits Do Not.” discusses how to add a ground cover that would not be eaten.

Project Objective-Adding An Entrance With Vines

Our goal was to change a part of the turf backyard to walkways, green groundcover, and a seating area with a pond view. This article describes our effort to create a pair of trellised entries for the “outdoor room” we were creating.

Making The Entrance

A garden arbor sounds like the solution for us. What’s an arbor? An arbor is a shady recess, and it does not need to be a structure. Trees crossed over and growing together to form a sheltered arch make a sheltered arbor. In our climate, a metal archway, wide enough for several vining plants will suit the small space. An arbor provides shelter, and privacy also it can include a small seat but we won’t need that. What we want is an entrance to the seating area. One for each end.

Why is it not a Pergola? A pergola is an outdoor structure, sometimes attatched to a house, sometimes a place big enough to sit or it can be an elongated passageway. So we are building an arbor.

The Benefit Of Garden Achitecture

Our space is small, we can not add much. This however is Florida, flat as a pancake. We could benefit from a little height and a little privacy, and a way to frame the views. We are going to enjoy this!

What We Can Do With Vines

Vines can do a lot for us in enhancing living space, we can use them to do things like this.

  • Create rooms
  • Provide Transition
  • Soften hard surfaces
  • Hide unattractive structures
  • Add interest to walls and fences
  • Develop vertical “walls” and private spaces
  • Frame and enhance attractive views

In our space, we had already added small trees and shrubs to create a private garden space. Now we need to make entrances and exits and frame our views. The gateway on one side was built to frame a pretty bridge, the other, to serve as a passage to the side yard and see wading birds along the pond edge.

Types Of Vines

Vines, wherever you find them, tend to come in three types. Knowing their characteristics and behaviors will be an enormous aid in growing them.

  1. Clinging vines-These have roots and tendrils which attach themselves to the surface they are climbing. They create a beautiful solid surface but can be intrusive unless maintained. Examples would be English Ivy, Trumpet Creeper, and Climbing Fig.
  2. Twining Vines-This group will spiral around an object, which makes them suitable for open work trellises, arbors, or fences. Most twining vines have a directional preference. If the vine shows a preference to turn in one direction-LET IT! Good examples are Mandevilla, Confederate Jasmine, and Passion Vine.
  3. Sprawling or Clambering Vines-Vines in this category will attach to support and perform best if manually supported. Examples are Bouganvillea and Climbing Roses.

Choosing Vines For Your Purpose

Consider the functions you want the vines to accomplish for you.

  • Green coverage or color? Green coverage will be there for you as long as your climate allows the foliage to grow. The floral color will be more seasonal, and if you want an extended bloom season, you may choose to mix two or more vines.
  • Vines for pollinators-many vines in every climate will feed pollinators. For this purpose, you will want the longest possible bloom period and to vary the flower shapes. Trumpet-shaped flowers, for example, will attract certain butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Solid coverage or not? Some vines will give you better coverage, important if you have a structure to disguise.
  • Sun or shade, drainage or not, salt-tolerant?

Criteria For Our Project

flower with bee
Small Vining Aster The Pollinators Will Like This One

Our search, in this project, is to find appealing coverings for two arbors. We would like the longest bloom time possible, plants for both full and part sun, and happy in our fast-draining sandy soil. We would appreciate some scent, this is near a seating area, and pollinator attractants will be appreciated.

There are some vines we have used before, so we are prepared with some experience and we used these other sources for vines for our local region. Some attractive vines grow tall, other grow tall and vigorously so. We are eliminating the latter. If you have loads of space or something large to cover you might make different choices. So for us the trumpet creeper Campsis radicans for example is just too much.

Flowering Vines For Florida. Guide to Growing Vines.

The Florida Friendly Landscaping Guide To Plant Selection And Landscape Design

I added this useful website South Florida Plant Guide as it included some different vines we knew we could use.

How would you do the same research? Try these resources

Your county agricultural Extension Office. They offer research-based, local information you can use. Here how to find it.

Your best local garden center.

We Found These Choices For Ourselves

Confederate Jasmine
Aster, Climbing
Aster carolinianus
1-12′Full, Part Sun, ShadeFallYesNo
Bougainvillea cvs
1-40′Full, Part SunYear RoundNot Know For PollinatorsNo
confederate Jasmine
Trachelospermum jasminodes
1-40′Full to Part SunSpring (some summer)YesYes
Maypop Passion Vine
Passiflora incarnata
5-10′Full SunSummer/FallYesNo
Mandevilla cvs
1-10′Full to Part Sun
Susceptable to Cold
Year RoundNoNo
Stephanotis floribunda
1-20′Full to Part SunSpring, Summer FallNoYes

*The asterisk on Stephanotis indicates that however much we love this vine, it can be fussy and it will not survive a freeze. In our almost but not quite ideal climate this one belongs in a pot which can be brought inside. We are in zone 10a on the South West of Florida. In zone 10b, just a little warmer you might have more confidence.

Right Plant-Right Place

This means that if you can position your plants in the environment which best suits them your life will be easier.

First, identify the characteristics of the place your vine will go. Somethings you can adjust and some you cannot. Drainage, for example, can often, but not always be changed. Sun and salt cannot. Some vining plants are adjustable to some variety. Confederate Jasmine, with the shiny green leaves and white, scented flowers, is amenable to some sunlight changes. Bougainvillea will not. It will only bloom if it gets its way and has plenty of sunshine.

How To Plant Vines

Follow the instructions for your specific plant. In general, vines perform best when planted in loose, well-draining soil. Dig a hole about two times the width of your nursery pot and about as deep. Work compost or well-aged manure into the bottom of the hole. Gently slip the vine from its pot if the fit is tight, slit the plastic pot. Loosen the edges of the root and plant not lower than level in the ground. Water before planting and after you are done. This will ensure that the roots are ready to reach out and that air pockets are not below ground.

Time To Plant?

In many climates April to June is ideal. In our South Florida climate we will plant as needed, anytime at all.

How To Water Vines

When newly planted water the vines on a daily basis. Do this for about two weeks and then water two to three days per week for several weeks, gradually spreading out. Be aware of rain, irrigation and other conditions that may affecct the plant’s need for water.

How To Fertilize Vines

Some vines have specific requirements, check the instructions on your new plant. In general vines are fertilized in spring and again in fall. Bougainvillea resists too much nitrogen and will not flower. Clematis is a heavy feeder and will bloom best with regular fertilization.

If you are combining two or more vines on one trellis or arbor you will need to use plants which require the same growing conditions.

How To Prune Vines

Pruning vines is important, they will grow thickly and pruning will provide air circulation and sunlight.

Here are the basic principles to maintain healthy vines. As they grow they will become more lush and beautiful and you will not want damage done by not pruning or by incorrect pruning to damage your creation.

  • Always cut back to healthy wood when removing dead or diseased plant material.
  • Cut back to a lateral bud or shoot.
  • Always finish your cutting at a branch pointed in the direction you want the plant to grow.
  • Use sharp cuts, and leave a clean cut, not a stub which can encourage pests and diseases.

Pests And Diseases Of Vines

These will vary considerably by the type of vine. Keep in mind that “right plant right place” will solve a lot of problems from the beginning. Most vining plants require well drained soil. Attempting to plant vines in low, slow draining areas will promote root rot.


We are taking a cautious view of the vines we choose as we want this to be a sturdy permanent installation. We need a well established set of vines on our trellis before hurricane season.

I am mildly suprised that my extensive research eliminated so many otherwise nice vines. Better safe than sorry. I hope this helps you in your garden decisions.