Vines

(Question)

My daughter is getting married at the end of July and wants a large quantity of ivy-like greenery on the tables.

I have been interested in planting vines along a long stretch of chain link fence and wondered if I would have sufficient time to grow a supply of greenery for the 10 tables if I plant in the spring.  We have both full sun and partial shade available.  She likes the idea of hops.

What would you suggest?

(Answer)

When thinking of a vine to grow for centerpieces, I wondered if your intention was to cut the vine and put the pieces in a container of water or floral foam, or if you were hoping to dig up sections of the vine and plant them in containers of soil?  In either case, it will be important to select a vine that is non-twining as removing this from a chain link fence could be rather cumbersome.

Your daughter’s choice, the hop plant or Humulus lupulus, is described by the Missouri Botanical Gardens as a twining perennial vine.  It sends several vertical shoots up from its crown each spring and can grow more than 30 feet in a single season.  Once these shoots have completed their vertical growth, side shoots will appear to support the flowers that appear in the fall.  It is dioecious having both male and female plants.

To learn more please see the link below:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=j440.

English ivy, or Hedera helix, is a fast growing perennial, but does require one to two years to establish a good root system before it starts to really climb. Although it grows in shade, it will definitely grow faster in a sunnier location.  Be forewarned though, once this plant is established, it can be an aggressive grower that can quickly invade beyond its intended area.  If you live in an environmentally sensitive area, bordering a ravine or protected natural space, please do not consider this one as it can be detrimental if it escapes.  If you like this look and choose to purchase potted plants instead of growing it yourself, Hedera helix ‘Goldheart’ is an attractive variegated variety with a purple-red stem that you could look out for in nurseries in the spring.

Although not vines, would you consider something aromatic like mint?   There are many varieties (apple, peppermint, pineapple to name a few) and they grow very rapidly.  You could sink pots of it into the ground in the spring and have a bounty of foliage for your mid summer wedding with the pots curtailing its spread in your garden.

Another related plant is Lamium, which also grows quickly and comes in a variety of leaf and flower colours.  One of my favourites is ‘White Nancy’ which brings brightness to the shadier parts of your garden but also grows very well in sun.

No matter what you decide, I’m sure the wedding will be wonderful.