Growing gorgeous vines

Growing gorgeous vines

Flowering creepers and climbers can breathe life into your garden, but can be tough to maintain at the same time. Surabhi Johri lists some easy ways to get lovely blooms...

Growing vines is an easy way to bring garden’s glory within limited space. We eagerly wait for it to bloom and that blossom is the fruit of all the labour of love that went into it. Often I am told “my vine did not bloom after once” or “it flowers sporadically”. It may have lots of leaves and growth but few or less than expected flowering.

Or it may be a woody mass that looks more of an eyesore. Most of these cases are a result of not enough or proper cutting back of the growth. Yes, properly managing the vegetative ie the leaf and stem growth of the vines is necessary to maintain a desirable growth pattern and profuse flowering.

You would, in general, be hesitant to use scissors on the beloved vine, but a great and simple horticultural technique called “pruning” is the way to keep the vines attractive, increase bloom and prevent from choking surrounding vegetation. Small or big growth, attractiveness can be maintained irrespective of bloom season by timely and regular thinning.

If the vines are already in the unattractive choky stage, there may be no choice but to cut it back severely. Keep in mind that not all vines take aggressive pruning. For such, you will have to get rid of weak, intertwined, dead mass of stems. Leave stronger shoots. Once the growth sprouts, this time train it the route you want it to take. Tie it, support it, and cut cross growth of the fresh shoots. Any how this severe approach can be prevented if vine is kept in check from the beginning.

For a good start, it helps to know what vines flower when. Some vines flower on the new wood, which means the growth of same year or season. Examples are bignonia, few clematis, lonicera, campsis, ipomea species. Others flower on the growth of previous season, example most large flowered clematis, jasmine, mandevilla, gelsemium, wisteria, dutchman’s pipe. Then there are some vines that flower intermittently through out the year like bougainvillea. So depending on flowering pattern the pruning time should be chosen.

Bignonia should be kept in check and serious pruning done after flowering. Pinching new growth helps put more blooms. Pinching off the leaf on the tip of shoot to activate lateral buds resulting in greater number of shoots and thus denser growth. The small white flowered clematis armandii should be pruned back after flowering. The ones that flower on old wood should be pruned immediately after bloom fades, to give sufficient time for wood ripening and next season blooming.

Heavenly-scented lonicera can be grown both as ground cover and vertically. Keep growth pattern strictly as per your need. This one needs strict handling post flowering as it gets matted and does not bloom on old wood. Campsis can become invasive so needs root pruning too. To root prune, depending on the expanse allotted for rooting, beyond suitably-sized rooting perimeter, the roots should be thinned by digging 1.5 feet into the ground. This cuts any underground suckers that will end up showing at a location away from desired.

Same approach applies to year round flowering fragrant rangoon creeper. Pruning gorgeous bougainvillea twice a year is enough but needs to be trained properly as it becomes really challenging to fix the messy growth. Sideway shoots and crossing shoots should be cut back. The resulting straight shoots are much neater and manageable in future. Post bloom stems should be cut back. In case severe cutting back is done, then flowers should be expected late after vegetative growth is established. Mandevilla will bloom on old wood and needs only dead shoot pruning.

Passion flower needs new growth so moderate pruning serves well. Petrea or sandpaper vine can be pruned after flowering to keep shape and size in check. It tends to become all twined up so primary shoots should be a few only.
Most of the pruning needs, when attended timely can be managed by a simple, small pruning shear. A good quality shear will give sharp, clean cuts with least effort. Ideal cut leaves small stub that slightly slants parallel to angle of bud growth. Idea is not to expose too much insides of the stem.

Only in heavily choked, old growth other tools like shears and loppers are needed.
So coming season, enjoy better blooms by understanding your vine and keeping it in shape.

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