Useful Vines for the Garden [August 8, 2015]
Two of the great vines available at the nursery are Vitis californica (California wild grape) and Clematis lasiantha (chaparral clematis). They are both useful habitat plants and can be grown as a ground cover or trained over a trellis or fence. They are tolerant of a wide variety of soils -- from clay to sandy soils.
Clematis lasianta (Chaparral clematis)
Clematis lasianta, which is also known as chaparral or pipestem clematis, is a lovely vine that is covered with gorgeous white flowers in the spring. The flowers are followed by fluffy white seed heads that make the plants look like they're covered in cottonballs. It can grow fifteen to twenty feet tall. This plant loves full sun although it prefers some shade for its roots. It does not need supplemental water after it is established. It is deciduous and may die back in cold winters, but will quickly grow back in the spring. You can see these vines in flower on many local trails in the spring.
Vitis californica (California wild grape)
Vitis californica has beautiful, large green leaves that provide an excellent cover in the summer. In the wild, it is typically found along streams and other moist areas, but is adaptable to dry conditions after it is established. It is a deciduous vine that can grow over thirty feet tall. Since it sheds its leaves in the winter, it's great over an arbor or trellis for summer shade and winter sun. It produces bunches of small purple grapes in the fall. The grapes are edible, but tend to be tart.
Maintenance is easy. Agi Kehoe, an active member of the Gardening With Natives subgroup shares these simple pruning instructions:
Winter pruning: thin out the vine by removing all but the major canes that form the structure. Once finished, there should be one mature cane per wire line on a fence, and maybe 3 canes on a 2' wide arbor. Cut the canes back to 2-3 buds, each cut should be 1/4" above the leaf node. This is also the time to secure the large canes to the trellis with ties.
Active growing season pruning: maintain the fast growth. If trained on a fence, prune to keep it close to the fence; if trained on an arbor, leave some fresh green canes hanging down from the arbor to create a softer look.
Gardening With Natives
Do you want a garden teeming with life? One that changes with the seasons? One that looks stunning? One that saves water, energy, effort, and money? Consider incorporating California native plants in your garden to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. These beautiful plants will bring seasonal color to your landscape. They will give your California garden a unique sense of place.
This website is for gardeners and home owners who want to learn how to grow California native plants in their landscapes. Visit this site to find out about talks, classes, workshops, garden tours, native plant sales, and other events where you can learn more. Visit this site for plant lists and useful articles on the propagation, growth, and care of native plant gardens.
Gardening with Natives is a special interest group of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. The group contains a mix of beginners and seasoned professionals, and is a great place to learn. Newcomers are particularly welcome. Gardening With Natives maintains a discussion egroup where people can ask questions, get answers, offer advice, and stay informed about upcoming events. Sign up below to participate in this forum. Membership is voluntary. Email traffic ranges from 10 to 20 messages a day. You can opt for individual emails or a daily digest.
The fall Seed Exchange is held at the Peninsula Conservation Center (PCC) in Palo Alto.
- CNPS Nursery