Caring for Vines


Because there are many options to choose from when it comes to picking the perfect vine for your yard, knowing how to care for your vine is no simple task.

Planting, placement, fertilization, overwintering, and pruning are all aspects of vine care and management that can vary depending on the vine you choose. Additionally, many vines are extremely vigorous and strong which means that, without the proper care, they can run rampant and cause damage to gardens and buildings. However, knowing the ins and outs of vine care and management is simple, and allows you to grow beautiful vines that will not only survive, but thrive.



Most vines prefer a full sun location for the best growth. However, there are a number of vines that will do well in part to full shade. Flowering vines will survive in a shaded growing site but flowering may be reduced considerably. The soil should be well-drained and prepared with ample amounts of organic matter prior to planting the vine.

Vines are generally planted at the same level there were growing in the pot with the exception of clematis. Clematis should be planted so that at least two sets of leaf nodes (buds) are below the soil line. Water well after planting.

Vines on Buildings


There is an ongoing dispute bout whether or not vines growing on buildings can cause damage. The vines in question are most likely those that support themselves by means of aerial roots or holdfasts that attach to the structure.

Generally, vines have not been known to cause damage to good, sound masonry, brick, or stone.  However, if there are loose joints or loose mortar, vines can get into such areas and cause damage.  Another issue is that vines can and will find openings around windows, roof tiles, frames, fascia, gutters, ventilation louvers, and shutters. They will work their way behind and into such places and push them away from the structure. This type of damage is easy to prevent by developing timely pruning your vines. Remove stems that are around such features before they can cause damage. 

Vines growing on wood siding or stucco structures may cause damage.

  • The damage they cause can be that of getting under the clapboards and pulling them away. 
  • Also, because the vines grow directly on the surface of these structures they reduce airflow resulting in moisture retention that can harm stucco surfaces and cause wood decay.
  • They can also leave unsightly marks on the clapboards left behind by the aerial roots or holdfasts if the vines are removed.
  • They also make repainting impossible unless the vines are removed totally.

If vines are desired on such a surface it is suggested that some type of trellis or support be positioned 4-6 inches away from the building surface for the vines to attach to. The resulting space between the trellis and building allows for air circulation and reduces moisture retention. Some gardeners go so far as to hinge the trellis at the bottom so if painting is required the trellis can be folded down away from the building with the vine still attached.




Basic maintenance such as pruning and fertilization varies with the type of vine and its growth rate. Some vines will need heavy annual pruning to keep them from appearing rampant and overgrown while others will need occasional pruning to reduce their size and direct growth. Newly planted vines may need only minimal pruning in order to balance growth. Also, vines grown for their flowers tend to flower more abundantly on shoots that are trained horizontally rather than vertically.


The guidelines for pruning vines are much like that for pruning deciduous shrubs. 

  • If the vine is grown for its foliage, it can be pruned almost anytime during the growing season with early spring being the best time for heavy pruning. 
  • With flowering vines, one needs to take note of when they bloom. 
  • If the vine flowers in the summer or fall, it is doing so with flower buds produced during the current season or new growth. These vines can be pruned in late winter or early spring so that the vine has plenty of time to produce flowering shoots. Honeysuckle, hardy kiwi, and trumpet vine are examples.  
  • If the vine blooms early in the season (before about June 15), it is doing so on the previous season's growth and should be pruned after the flowers fade. Doing any pruning in early spring before flowering or late in the season often results in the removal of potential flower shoots and the reduction of flowers. Wisteria and Dutchman’s pipe are examples.
  • If the vine produces ornamental fruit, post-flower pruning may have to be delayed until spring so that the fruit crop will be lost.  


Fertilizer is also based upon growth rate. If the vine is producing abundant annual growth very little fertilizer may be needed to maintain the plant. If plants do require fertilizer, an annual spring application of one cup of general-purpose fertilizer worked into the soil at the root zone of the plant is suggested.