Climbing plants

Asked July 31, 2016, 9:52 PM EDT

What kind of climbing vine can I have: On a trellis attached to my tall fence In acidic soil with a backyard of white and red pines In shade, but three hours of afternoon sun, not shining directly on it

Ramsey County Minnesota

3 Responses

Thank you for the question. We can help you better if you provide more information.

Have you tested the soil so that you know it is acidic? Most of our native soils are not acidic, but more in the pH range of 6.0-7.0.
What is the purpose of the vine? Ornamental and flowering, "green" fencing, other?
Do you wish a perennial vine that comes back every year or an annual one that dies after one season?

The previous owners told us the soil is acidic. The only trees are pines, which have been here over 20 years. The only plants that grow are hostas, day lilies, I patients, and we planted choke berry shrubs in the back.
We are interested in ornamental, perennial vines. They could be
flowering or not.

Thank you for the information and photos. You have a beautiful shade/woodland garden started! The people that sold you the house probably assumed the soil was acid due to the pine tree needles. This is a myth.
Pine needles do not cause the soil under the pine trees to be acidic. Tests have been done on the pH level of the soil under pine trees and it has been proven that the pH levels are consistent with the pH levels in the rest of the landscape. When the pine needles first drop they are just slightly more acidic but this does not last.
If you want to test your soil, submit a soil sample to the soil testing lab at the U of M. Here's how to do it:

The difficulty with growing plants under large shade trees is that the trees out-compete everything else for soil nutrients and water. From the photos, the garden looks very dry. The existing plants are tough, that's why they are hanging on. You can help the plants grow by providing supplemental watering at least once a week to moisten the soil down to 5-6 inches. The plants will really appreciate it. The pine tree canopy probably prevents much of the rain water from reaching the plants. The pine needles make a nice, attractive mulch that will help the soil conserve water. Whatever vine you plant will need careful watering for a season or two to properly establish.
Clematis is one of the best flowering vines that do well in shadier locations. There are many varieties and the bloom times can extend your flower viewing season. Wild grapevines would grow in part shade, they will not flower/fruit, but the leaves are nice. Virginia creeper is another great vine to cover a fence. It grows very quickly and many find it aggressive. Climbing Hydrangea could be a beautiful option, it may die to the ground every winter but will come back and you do get nice flowers on it. Trumpet vine and honeysuckle can both be quite aggressive but may work for you. Both bring in pollinators and the hummingbirds. In the shade some aggressive vines may not be as strong. Here's a link to our publication on growing perennial vines. Pay attention to the column about light requirements and choose a suitable one:

Thank you for contacting Extension.