Published on 06/15/04

Proper planting, care help vines thrive

By Robert R. Westerfield
University of Georgia

Ornamental vines can make an interesting addition to your yard and serve more than one purpose. Following a few tips can help you grow thriving vines in your yard.

Most flowering vines need at least a half-day of sun to grow well and bloom abundantly. Other vines, like variegated English ivy, will develop more vivid leaf patterns with a few hours of morning sun.

Most vines grow best in fertile, well-drained soils. Bare-root vines are best transplanted during the fall and winter. Container-grown vines can be planted anytime if you water them.

If you need organic matter to improve the soil, rotary-till about 4 inches of it into the top 12 inches of soil before you dig the planting hole. Compost is an excellent amendment.

A proper hole

Dig the hole as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Make the top of the root ball level with the soil surface. Then backfill with soil removed from the hole, tamping it lightly to eliminate air pockets. Water right after planting, and use a mulch to keep moisture in the soil.

A low-cost way to plant a lot of vines as a ground cover is to buy and plant rooted cuttings or "liner" plants. Ask your nurseryman about liners.

If you plant during fall and winter, wait until spring to fertilize. If you plant in the spring and summer, wait four to six weeks for the plants to get established before fertilizing.

Then lightly sprinkle about a tablespoon of a complete, balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 around the perimeter of the planting hole and water it in.


Once the vines are established, fertilize in early spring and midsummer with a complete fertilizer such as 6-12-12 or 5-10-10 at 1.5 pounds per 100 square feet. Take a soil sample to your county Extension Service office to find your soil's precise nutritional needs.

Vines have different pruning requirements. Generally, prune to remove dead, diseased and damaged wood, reduce size and promote branching. Vigorous vines such as honeysuckle, trumpet vine and wisteria may require regular pruning to keep them confined to the support.

As a rule, prune flowering vines after they bloom. This is particularly true for vines like wisteria and spring-flowering clematis that bloom on last season's growth. Pruning these vines before they bloom will reduce flowering.

The amount of pruning depends on the vigor of the vine and the amount of foliage you want. Some vines will form layer on layer of growth unless they're thinned out regularly.

Wisteria, for instance, requires annual pruning to reduce the amount of growth. Removing about one-third of the canopy each year will lead it to grow short spurs on the remaining branches that will bear next season's flowers.

(Bob Westerfield is an Extension Service consumer horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Bob Westerfield is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.