Fast-growing vines are a must if you have an eyesore you want covered, an arbor that needs decoration or a shady area where grass will not grow. Some vines, such as wisteria and trumpet vine, need full sun to thrive and flower. But there are many vines that grow well in shade, being both useful and decorative.
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a fast-growing vine that will grow in the shade---and almost everywhere else. It is not particular about its soil or growing conditions. Virginia creeper uses aerial roots to easily grow to the top of its support structure, and it will reach 30 to 50 feet long. Virginia creeper is a deciduous vine, with green or variegated green leaves in the summer that turn red in the fall. It grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7.
Actinidia (Actinidia kolomitka) is a vine native to eastern Asia. It can grow 15 to 20 feet high and spread 6 to 10 feet wide. This deciduous vine produces small, fragrant, greenish-white blooms in April to early summer. It has heart-shaped green leaves that are variegated with pink or white. Edible 1-inch-long fruits appear in the fall on female plants. The Missouri Botanical Garden says that Actinidia has a "vigorous growth habit" and makes an excellent choice for a trellis, fence, wall or arbor. It grows in USDA zones 4 to 8.
The fiveleaf akebia (Akebia quinata), also called chocolate vine, is native to Japan, China and Korea. It can reach 20 to 40 feet long and up to 9 feet wide, and it is semi-evergreen in warmer climates. The Missouri Botanical Garden warns that the vine is rapid grower and "can suffocate shrubs or other vegetation if not kept in check." Its palmate leaves have dark green leaflets, and it blooms with small chocolate-purple flowers that droop beneath the foliage. After the flowers drop, the akebia produces 4-inch-long purple fruit pods. Akebia makes a good ground cover, and it is a fast way to cover a pergola or wall. It grows in USDA zones 4 to 8.
Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia elegans), also called calico flower, is a tender evergreen vine with unusual flowers. The woody stems grow quickly and twine in coils around wire or other supports. Dutchman's pipe grows to 15 feet tall, and its foliage makes a dense mat. The bright green, heart-shaped leaves frame greenish-white flowers shaped like a 19-century tobacco pipe. Inside the flower is a purple-brown pattern that resembles calico fabric. Dutchman's pipe needs partial to full sun, and average soil and moisture. It grows in USDA zones 8 to 10.
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