Growing vines in the Tucson, Arizona home landscape not only adds a touch of beauty and charm but also serves practical purposes. Vines have been used for centuries as a means of providing natural shade and cooling, especially during the sweltering summer months. Vine foliage creates a perfect cover for patios, pergolas, and arbors, allowing residents to enjoy the outdoors without being scorched by the sun.
Furthermore, vines serve an ornamental purpose by adding aesthetics to an otherwise plain and drab exterior. Some flower, providing a touch of color to their surroundings, while others create a living green wall to soften a rigid wall or building. Vines come in a variety of colors, textures, and fragrances and can be trained to climb trellises, walls, and fences, giving the landscape a visually pleasing appeal.
In terms of practical benefits, vines serve as a natural habitat for small mammals, birds, and insects, enhancing the ecosystem of the Tucson landscape. They provide a nesting place for birds and a food source for bees and butterflies, promoting biodiversity and improving the aesthetics of the home landscape.
Tucson’s Top 10
- Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata)
A rapidly growing evergreen climber, Cross Vine attaches itself to a trellis with long tendrils. This beautiful plant produces massive, showy clusters of coral-colored, trumpet-shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds in the spring and summer. Although it does well in full sun, filtered shade is also acceptable. It is hardy to 15°F.
- Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea Hybrids)
Where would our Tucson gardens be without Bougainvillea? It provides outstanding color in our intense summer heat and drought and blooms from spring until frost. Bougainvillea explodes in shades of white, pink, rose, fuchsia, purple, and orange, depending on the variety. Bougainvillea will do well in rich, well-draining soil. This heavy, woody vine will need strong structural support. It will go dormant when temperatures are below freezing but it is root hardy to 20°F. The roots will recover in the spring, bringing another season of electric blooms.
- Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
An exceptional perennial climbing vine, Star Jasmine, supports itself with twining stems. This vine sports dark green, leathery, evergreen foliage and fragrant, white, star-shaped flowers in the spring. Star Jasmine can be planted in sun or shade but avoid reflected heat—Hardy to 20°F.
- Lady Bank’s Rose (Rosa banksiae)
A rambling and sprawling heirloom, Lady Bank’s Rose is available in both yellow and white flowering varieties. This rose likes full sun with reflective heat but would benefit greatly from supplemental watering in hot weather to keep it looking and blooming at its best. This long-lived rose is prized for its early spring showy blooms, and erosion control ability—Hardy to 15°F.
- Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
This vine is one selected for its berries. Firethorn lives up to its name, sporting sharp thorns on its branches. However, in the spring, it is dripping with small clusters of white flowers and orange-red berries throughout the winter. This vine will bring birds to the winter landscape. Firethorn is a heat-loving plant that will do well with some extra irrigation. It is a fast grower that is perfect as an espalier against a bare garden wall. This plant is hardy to 10°F.
- Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
This rapidly growing, native perennial can add incredible color to the Tucson home landscape. It loves a hot wall and flowers in clusters of pink/coral blooms in the late summer until frost, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. It prefers full sun but does best with additional irrigation. Even though its top will die back when a frost hits, Queen’s Wreath’s roots are hardy to 20°F.
- YellowOrchid Vine (Callaeum macropterum)
Beautiful small yellow flowers resemble an orchid or a butterfly. Bloom time is heaviest in spring and fall. This vine climbs, with support, by twining stems. Without support it will grow with a mounding habit, which can be kept as a ground cover or pruned as a shrub. Although it is native and drought tolerant, it will be lusher and grow faster with regular watering from spring through fall–Hardy to 20°F
- Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea)
A twining vine that will climb up trellises, arbors and over pergolas. Large densely packed leaves can provide a thick screen. The cascades of small purple flowers are a welcome splash of color in late winter and are similar to lilac blooms that also attract butterflies. They can take full sun but would prefer afternoon shade and are hardy to 20°F
- Cat’s Claw Vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati)
This rapidly growing, fine-textured, perennial vine does well in hot, sunny locations. It attaches itself to walls and structures with hook-like tendrils. It has yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, is semi-deciduous, and is drought tolerant—Hardy to 10°F.
- Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)
An evergreen, self-climber with tiny heart-shaped leaves, Creeping Fig will thrive in the Tucson home landscape if provided with a shady situation and moist but well-draining soil. This vine is slow-growing when young but increases its growth rate rapidly as it matures. The leaves also adjust at maturity to become more prominent, leathery, and dark green. A variegated form is also available—Hardy to 15°F.
In addition to this assortment of exceptional vines for the Tucson home landscape, there are many more that are not mentioned here. Stop by our garden center for recommendations on the best vines for your soil, exposure, and aesthetics.
In conclusion, growing vines in the Tucson, Arizona home landscape offers both practical and ornamental benefits. They add beauty and charm, provide natural shade and cooling, conserve water, prevent soil erosion, purify the air, and promote a healthy ecosystem. Whether for ornamental or practical purposes, vines are a valuable addition to the Tucson home landscape, providing a host of benefits for residents and the environment.