Vines for fence (which ones, how many)?

September 8, 2019

Hello, we are just finishing installing a 4ft tall cable fence in SoCal, Zone 10a on our side yard with downslope (fence is property line). The purpose of the cable fence is to preserve our view (city and little bit of ocean!) but that’s only about half of the fence area in the backyard. We will plant shorter flowering plants there. Max of 2ft tall. But for half of the fence line on our side yard, we need to block our neighbors house for privacy but also would rather look at flowers. So we’re thinking flowering vines that will grow up and along the cables and fill in over time. Full sun. It can get hot and windy at times but not often. Here are photos looking both ways.

The area is about 50ft. Wood posts are 9ft apart. I was thinking 1 at each post then 1 or 2 in between? Any advice?

Also, I’d like color but don’t want to go too crazy. Can I plant different vines or all the same? Perhaps same but different colors? If yes, how would I arrange them (alternate or start with one and then change to another halfway?).

And which vines do you recommend for this area and what I’m trying to achieve? Doesn’t have to be super fast growing but not slow. Must be drought tolerant. Note we are doing a Mediterranean xeriscape in front yard. Lavender, rosemary white roses, some purple salvia, some grasses. Mostly blue, purple, white & pink). I’d like to keep that look on our side yard. I love Mandevilla. Open to jasmine (a landscape designer recommended star jasmine also). I also want lots of greenery and would love to attract birds and butterflies (especially hummingbirds). What about either of those ? or honeysuckle or Bowers? I’ve looked into those too.

Any recommendations on design and which vines to plant would be really appreciated!!!
Thank you!!

Comments (37)

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Climbing Roses, clematis, butterfly peas

  • Snaggy

    Grape ..Clematis ..Wisteria .. California Honeysuckle .Fuchsia hedge

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  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    It's hard to beat the flowering impact of bougainvillea!! The range of colors are stunning. And hummingbirds love them :-)

  • donnatrus

    Gardengal48, thank you! And I agree. I LOVE bougainvillea! But my husband hates the thorns. We took out a bougainvillea recently and he lost a lot of blood! ;) So nothing with thorns and nothing toxic (pets).

    Also, I’d prefer no fruit (although I’d love to grow grapes and make wine!!) as it may attract rodents.

    Getgoing & Snaggy, thank you for the suggestions. I don’t know a lot about clematis or honeysuckle but they are beautiful and I’ll check them out! Any problems with them? Do they bloom most of the year? Do they get twiggy/sticky?

    And I’ve never heard of butterfly peas so will look into that.

    Anyone recommend (or not recommend) mandevilla or jasmine?

    I’m looking for low maintenance :)

    Thanks again!

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Mandevilla is certainly a good choice as also Jasmine. Honeysuckle have a shorter bloom duration I think. If you chose the right clematis you would have blooms for significant part of the year.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    "If you chose the right clematis you would have blooms for significant part of the year. "

    LOL! I'd sure like to know what clematis that might be :-)

    And unfortunately, drought tolerance and most vining plants do not go hand in hand. Regular watering will be pretty much SOP for any of them.

    Here's a few others to consider:

    Potato vine, Solanum jasminoides, S. crispum and S. wendlandii

    Flame vine, Pyrostegia venusta

    Passionflowers, Passiflora species

    Bower vine, Pandorea species

    Yellow trumpet vine, Macfadyena unguis-cati

  • donnatrus

    Thanks getgoing and gardengal for the great advice! I will look into those other suggestions. I’m definitely a researcher but the real life advice here is so amazing and helpful.

    So, I obviously need to pick a vine or 2. That’s my task this week! But what do you guys think about 1 type of vine vs mixing it up? I would love to have white and blue/purple so could I alternate so when they grow, there’s flowers mixed in together? Should I do 2 (or even 3!?) colors of the same type of vine or 2 (or 3) different ones so the leaves vary?? I really have no idea. It’s a long space! Thanks so much!!

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    You have enough space to have as many as you want. Heck, you could have a vina garden. I know that the red Dipladenia and violet/move Hf young clematis do well in my zone without much trouble (in containers) . The hf young reblooms many times (twice outdoors and once or twice indoors). The Dipladenia blooms all way to December when brought indoors. you are in a warmer zone so you have a much longer growing season. perhaps you could look around in your neighborhood and possibly the garden center to see what thrives there.

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Tag your zone/region to get local views as well

  • donnatrus

    Thanks getgoing! Are you in NJ?

    And how do tag my zone/region? No idea!

    I have been to our local nursery and they are generally helpful. I do look around my area but I generally don’t know what plants are which. Except bougainvillea! I’ll keep looking. Thx!

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Yes, I am in NJ. When you created this thread you picked a few (upto 3) tags (for example- garden) before the thread goes up. You could search for and choose California as one of the tags. Good luck with your project. Let us know how it goes.

  • emmarene9

    You have room for a few varieties just don't plant them alternately.

    I am thinking Trachelospermum jasminoides for the area where the RV is parked. It does not have bold flowers but it makes dense cover. You will have to tie it at first, it does not have tendrils. It is not a water hog. Whatever you plant will need watered regularly until they are established.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Donnatrus, if you take pictures of vines in your area which you like the look of, we can probably identify them for you. Then you can go shopping with some names.

  • PRO

    No one looks at a vineyard and calls it ugly or boring. As it is one yard and one fence, in my opinion, it would look better as one type of plant. It would be messier or chaotic looking, or harder to control if a variety of vines.

    The first thing I'd be looking at is the vine habit. Some drape, some are fluffy, some have lengthy projections; they are all over the map. Since it is an open-air situation, it will, to a large extent, boil down to your personal preference, so long as the vine can be controlled.

    Depending on the vine you choose, you might very likely not need one or even two per post. It would work but might be overkill per what is necessary. If the vine were campsis (another hummingbird magnet) for example, you might need one every 30' or so.

    Mandevillea might look great, but I don't know its long term habit and have never seen it used as much more than an annual (for which it is outstanding.)

    Usually, it takes a while (2 or 3 years) to get a vine to where it is "cooking" good. In the meanwhile, annual vines, grown from seed, can be used to fill their place. I recommend moonflower vine for that. I would stay away from 'Grandpa Ott' morning glory, as it is the weediest thing, with seeds sprouting forever after. (I have not had that kind of trouble with 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory.)

  • ci_lantro

    If you chose the right clematis you would have blooms for significant part of the year.

    The plural of 'clematis' can be either 'clematises' or just plain 'clematis'. When I read the post, I assumed the plural form was intended. That an assortment of varieties that are early, mid & late season bloomers, rather like you plan a daylily, etc., garden.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    And if that was my intent, I would have amended the statement to read "If you chose the right selection of clematis you would have blooms for significant part of the year."

    It is hard to determine the writer's intent without specific clarification, especially in a situation like this where different interpretation is up for grabs.

  • Embothrium

    Even in my cool and dull area star jasmine consistently has poor foliage color in full sun, clearly wants a north-facing wall. But your first filter will be the drought resistance requirement, something that tends to narrow down what climbing plants can be used quite a bit. And then even if you find a suitable choice that will work within that restriction the climbing habit means that there will be an ongoing need for diligent pruning and training, in order to get uniform coverage within the outline of the fence - it would be a lot easier to plant free-standing (self-supporting) shrubs next to the fence instead.

  • Olychick

    getgoing, it's often best to just ignore comments of others and post your opinions and suggestions, even if other posters comment on your suggestions. People seeking help will glean what they want from helpful suggestions and, hopefully, do their own research about what might work for them.

    I have clematis blooming much of the year in the PNW, but they seem to do best with quite a bit of moisture and shaded roots, so I don't know how they perform in an exposed sunny CA location.

    OP, there are a few thornless bougainvillea varieties, but the colors appear to be less striking than the gorgeous colors available with thorns. I'd probably plant bougainvillea and hire a gardener to deal with handling them when needed. :-)

  • donnatrus

    Wow, thanks so much for all the ideas and suggestions! You guys are amazing.

    @Embothrium, what types of shrubs would you recommend? We thought vines for several reasons: stays narrow maximizing usable yard space, flowers, and we figured we have an existing ‘trellis’ with the cables. But we are open to other ideas! Anything that would reach high enough to cover the 4’ fence but also stay narrow? Thx!

    @Olychick, I like the idea of hiring a gardener! But we tend to do everything ourselves unless we physically can’t. I will look into the thornless bougainvillea but also concerned about maintenance. They require frequent attention and was trying to have something with less maintenance. And thanks for your concern about clematis. My worry is that usually we have perfectly perfect :) weather here.. often 72 and sunny! But we do get hot spells in summer. And there is no shade at all. Very exposed. I could plant small plants along the fence line that are just 1-2’ tall to help shade the roots. What do you think?

    @Yardvaark, thanks! So, I hear you about using the same plant...I was thinking that too. But do you think all the same color or could I mix up the colors of the same plant (not a rainbow but maybe white, light blue or purple)... subtle. What do you think? My vision is that eventually they would mix in. If that makes sense.

    Also, @Yardvaark, any suggestions for smallish plants along fence line to go with the vines? And, I’ve had mandevilla for several years at a previous house in part shade and it was amazing. I just loved it. Was hoping it would do well here too.

    One thing I’ve been thinking.. I’m a little nervous about the strong fragrance from jasmine. I love it but might be too strong for my husband.

    I’m thinking mandevilla or bower at this point. But still not sure about clematis. Looks wonderful! but not sure.

    Anyone experienced with Stephanotis floribunda or thunbergia (black eyed Susan)?

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I grow the Thunbergia.....but it is an annual in my climate. Grows fast, blooms heavily over a long time and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds (although not their favorite ). But not exactly drought tolerant. Of all my containerized vines, I need to water this about twice as frequently as any others. And IME, the stephanotis has a much stronger and more carrying fragrance than does the star jasmine.

  • donnatrus

    Thanks gardengal! Good to know about both. I definitely want drought tolerant. They will get water but as minimal as possible. Thx!

  • chloebud

    donnatrus, we're here in SoCal and have had some of the vines already mentioned...Mandevilla, Bower and Potato. For Mandevilla, right now we have Red Riding Hood but have also had the Alice du Pont variety. All these vines are great...and so pretty. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I'm kind of partial to the somewhat "lacy" look (IMO) of the Bower's leaves.

  • donnatrus

    Thanks Cloebud! I’m definitely going to check out Bower vines at our local nursery!

    All- anyone have experience with purple lilac vine?

    Also, any suggestions for 1-2’ plants to grow along fence with vines?


  • getgoing100_7b_nj
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Also, Rangoon Creeper for a fragrant drought tolerant exotic option.
  • PRO

    For a long stretch of vines (which is essentially a hedge, here) analogous, or very mildly contrasting colors would work well.

    I don't have any suggestions for underscore plants. Use what fits as it goes along. I wonder if there will be this space. A lot depends on the vine used.

  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)

    I have lonicera sempervirens (yellow color) and it grows at least 15 feet a summer when I cut it back in the spring. It’s a hummingbird magnet. I have it on an arbor and it can take quite a bit of abuse and mishandling and “keeps on truckin”.

    Star jasmine has a beautiful scent that is pleasant in an enclosed space, so outside, your husband should be fine with it.

  • Embothrium

    Twining climbers of any serious vigor will soon bunch up at the top of the fence and grow broadly, unless consistently and diligently pruned into perpetuity.

    And climbers that don't twine may also need to have each stem tied to the wires, in order to engage with the support, produce the desired coverage.

    So I wonder if you are really going to get out there and do all this every year - you will not be able to plant climbers along that entire run of fence, have them turn it into a narrow and tidy wall of leaves and flowers on their own.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    Both Lonicera sempervirens and mandevilla are vines that in my garden need less moisture than clematis, roses, or Thunbergia/black eyed Susan vine.

  • donnatrus

    Thanks all! Again, great feedback and suggestions.

    Embothrium, I hear you! And that is a concern. Maybe I can find a magic vine fairy to do this ;) but likely not so will be me! I am willing to prune and train the vines. But fast growing vines will be too much for a 4’ fence, I think. So I’m definitely looking for something slower growing so it’s manageable.

    Based on my experience, star jasmine and mandevilla are fairly slow growers and were manageable for me in the past. But would love others thoughts.. do you agree with that?

    Are there other slow growers I should consider? I have researched all suggested :) and some are faster grieving which raises concern about maintenance.

    Cloebud, I don’t know much about Bower vines but it’s a possibility... so wondering if you can comment about the growth rate/manageability compared to mandevilla? Thx!!

    And does anyone know about lilac vines?

    Thanks again!!!

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    Lilac vine = Hardenbergia violacea for anyone else who is wondering.

  • emmarene9

    Hardenbergia was a fairly low water plant for me. I let it develop a main "trunk" and then spread the vines out horizontally.

    Looking at your situation you are basically doing an espalier to begin with. Consider shrubs that are used for that purpose. Xylosma is one. Grewia is another but it grows fast so you may not want it.

  • chloebud

    donnatrus, both Bower and Mandevilla have been fast growers for us. They're both very showy. My suggestion is to check the bloom and foliage appearance for both to see what appeals to you. For us, I'd say the Bower was easiest to care for. Alice du Pont Mandevilla is pretty spectacular, but I actually prefer the smaller leaves on the Red Riding Hood variety.

    I was also remembering a Cape Honeysuckle we once grew to cover a fence. That stuff took off like we couldn't believe. Very agressive!

  • donnatrus

    Thanks emmarene9! Interesting idea.. never heard of that! I think I’d rather flowering vines but do need to ensure they aren’t super fast growing.

    And chloebud, thank you! Great input re: Bower and mandevilla. And I looked into honeysuckle but might be too fast growing.

    Trip to the local nursery soon.. too hot today!!

    Thanks again!

  • J.L. Ford

    In my experience in Maryland, Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle) is not an aggressive grower. It bloomed all summer and the hummingbirds loved it. However, another thing to consider is the weight of the vine at maturity. Lonicera might be too heavy on that fence. Weight might eventually become a factor for any vine that persists through the winter.

  • donnatrus

    Thanks JL! Good point about weight. I do plan to stay on top of pruning so hopefully will be ok.

    Chloebud or others: can anyone tell me if star jasmine attracts hummingbirds and/or butterflies? I assume bees but pls correct me if I’m wrong. And same for Bower and Mandevilla?

    My nursery says star jasmine would be best. Slower growing than the others. And I do love it. But I love the big flowers of Bower and Mandevilla. Plus I want to attract hummingbirds at least. Part of this fence is right outside our 8’ kitchen window and I’m looking out the window a lot!


  • chloebud

    donnatrus, I can tell you our Bower vines attract hummers like crazy. I've not noticed them as much with Mandevilla.

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