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Flowering Vines Add a Colorful Cascade to Any Landscape

Discover the allure of flowering vines in your desert oasis.

By Cathy Cromwell

If you garden in limited space or are quickly running out of room to keep up with your plant addiction, go vertical with vines. The desert palette offers many options that have stunning blooms. One caveat: Don’t skimp on their support. Strong winds coupled with the weight of mature plants may cause lightweight structures to topple. Consider these suggestions for incorporating vines into your landscape: 

  • Add artwork near a vining plant by commissioning a trellis from a local artist or metalworker. The piece will continue to provide a focal point, even when a deciduous vine such as yellow yuca (Merremia aurea) is leafless, or when annual vines, such as sweet peas, are spent. Another idea is to erect a vine support that complements your home’s architecture, such as a Southwestern-style ramada.
  • Create a private retreat by draping a sturdy ramada or gazebo with an evergreen vine that offers dense foliage, such as thornless Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksiae). It blooms in spring with white or creamy yellow flowers. 
  • In one space, train two vines that flower during different seasons. Spring-blooming cat’s claw vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati) provides a strong backing for a twining vine to scramble up, such as summer-blooming passion vine or summer- to fall-blooming queen’s wreath (Antigonon leptopus). Cat’s claw’s dark evergreen foliage camouflages these deciduous vines during their dormancy. (Note: Cat’s claw, which clings to walls without needing additional support, may damage paint or stucco surfaces over time.)
  • Wrap wire around a patio support column and grow a potted vine at its base. Choose a fragrant or colorful plant, such as honeysuckle, primrose jasmine (Jasminum mesnyi) or coral trumpet vine. Because these vines sprawl, be prepared to tie back or trim as needed.
Cat’s claw vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati)

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