Native Vines for Landscapes in the Borderlands
Vines are valuable landscape additions. They can bring beauty and nature to structures that are otherwise drab and lifeless. They can provide nectar flowers to birds and butterflies high, safely away from predators like cats. Some vines can even take some heat off your walls in the summer. They can be used in arbors, on fences, or just be scrambling up the base of a shrub that would otherwise be bare. Some vines are small and only climb a foot or two, like fermina (Janusia gracilis). Others can climb to almost endless heights like butterfly orchid vine (Callaeum macroptera). Some are evergreen and some are deciduous. Some of the deciduous vines have spectacular fall color like the hacienda creepers (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
You will need to pay attention to the attributes of the vine: are they self clinging to a wall, need structure to twine to, or must be attached using wire or string? Can they handle the sun on a south-facing wall? Not all native vines can handle the hot reflected heat in such spots in summers.
Large, deciduous, perennial vine climbing by tendrils.
Full to part sun, moderate to low water, root hardy to about 15°F.
A lovely pollinator plant blooming prolifically. Red and white species available. Cut back to the ground after frost.
Large, deciduous, perennial vine, climbing by tendrils.
Full to part sun, low to moderate water, hardiness untested but native to 5,500’ elevation.
Pollinator plant, important for digger and gourd bees—males sleep in flowers. Fruits eaten by mammals.
Watson's dutchman's pipe
Small, semi-evergreen trailing herb.
Full to part sun, low to moderate water, hardiness unknown but native to about 4500’ elevation.
Larval host plant for the pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor). Pollinated by Ceratopogonid flies—the flowers of dutchman’s pipe resemble a mouses ear; the fly enters thinking it will get a meal (they suck blood from their ears) but get trapped in flowers overnight. The flower releases pollen onto the fly and lets it go in the morning. There are hundreds of species of Aristolochia, all have cool pollination stories.
Large, perennial, deciduous cucurbit vine, climbing by tendrils.
Full to part sun, moderate to low water, hardiness unknown but native to sandy washes up to 3000’ elevation.
Great pollinator plant. Cool-looking, inflated, spikey fruits.
yellow orchid vine
Giant, evergreen, perennial vine that climbs by twining stems.
Full to part sun, low to moderate water, top hardy to mid 20s°F., grows back after frost.
This is one of the few vines that can grow on the hottest wall in reflected heat and still look good. Flowers attract butterflies and bees. Flowers a lot, followed by butterfly-shaped pods.
Small, herbaceous perennial vines, stems trailing or climbing and twining, sometimes woody at the base. Twines up to about 2 feet.
Full to part sun, moderate water, hardiness unknown but native to about 5000’ elevation.
Nice little pollinator plant.
Large, semi-evergreen, perennial vines that climb via tendrils or clamoring over objects.
Full to part sun, moderate water, top is hardy to about 25°F but regrows vigorously.
Larval food plant for the Silver-banded Hairstreak (Chlorostrymon simaethis) and gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) butterflies.
Arizona Grape ivy
larval host for Wilson's Wood-nymph Moth (Xerociris wilsonii), Mournful sphinx moth, Satellite sphinx moth, Vine sphinx moth
western white bower
wild balsam apple
purple morning glory
Ipomoea spp. The Arizona Department of Agriculture prohibits the sale of all vining Ipomoea species. This is ridiculous as there are many species that are not noxious weeds. But unfortunately the Ag department aren’t consulting knowledgable botanists on the subject. If you happen to come upon native non-invasive species of morning glories, we wouldn’t frown at you if you encouraged their existence in your landscape. Just beware that many species can take up some space.
variable-leaf bush bean
purple orchid vine
yellow morning glory
New Mexico raspberry
Vitus arizonica and other Vitus spp.