To soften the look of a fence, plant either annual or perennial vines along its length. The vines will soon scramble up the fence and cover it with flowers and foliage. Plant vines with interesting and fragrant flowers and those with berries and good fall leaf color so your living fence looks good throughout the growing season.
Cup and Saucer Vine
A fast-growing annual vine, cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) can grow 15 to 25 feet in a single growing season. It attaches itself to fences with branched tendrils that grow from the ends of the leaf stalks. Descriptive of its common name, tiny lavender or violet cup-like flowers that sit on green saucer-like bases bloom from early summer through fall. Plant cup and saucer vine in full sun in soil that is moist and well-drained after all danger of frost has past. Thin seedlings to stand 18 to 24 inches apart.
Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are a flowering vine with fragrant flowers that resemble the flowers of edible pea vines. They bloom in early summer in shades of blue, lavender, red and salmon. All peas are cool-weather-loving so plant seeds of sweet peas where they are to grow as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. To hasten germination, soak the seeds overnight in warm water before sowing.
A vigorous perennial vine that grows 10 to 20 feet tall, American bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata) is primarily grown for its autumn reddish-orange berries. The berries appear in terminal clusters, covering the vines and providing another layer of autumn interest in the garden. The fruiting branches are highly sought-after for autumn crafts and dried arrangements. American bittersweet will grow and thrive in any type of soil except those that are wet and boggy. Bittersweet produces plants that are either male or female. Although both types produce flowers, both types must be grown in order to set fruit.
A flowering perennial vine with spectacularly beautiful and fragrant flowers, Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) is the most commonly grown variety of wisteria. Its vines twine clockwise around its support and it produces purple or white flowers. It fast becomes woody and heavy, so ensure that the fence it grows on is strong and sturdy. Wisteria will grow in either sun or partial shade, but will only flower reliably in full sun.
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