What Can I Plant on a North-Facing Fence?

Written by sharon sweeny
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What Can I Plant on a North-Facing Fence?
Evergreen ivy softens the look of fences. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Much softer than a plain fence, a vine-covered fence is a feature in the landscape. Even a north-facing fence will support vines that like partial shade. The vines will receive additional light during the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is low in the eastern or western sky. Flowering vines brighten up a property line or fronting on a street or sidewalk. Vines grown primarily for their foliage provide a cool, tranquil feeling to enclosed areas.

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Evergreen Vines

Brighten up the area with the chartreuse sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), the bronze-green leaves of wild grapevines (Vitis vinifera) or the deep green, leathery leaves of Boston (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) or English ivy (Hedera helix). The evergreen leaves on these vines will cover and camouflage the fence, even through the winter months.

Flowering Vines

White thunbergia (Thunbergia fragrans), is a tropical flowering vine with white, single, 5-petaled flowers resting in small, heart-shaped bracts. Clerodendrum thomsoniae is a tender vine growing about 10 feet long. The red or white flowers resemble azaleas, but have extra-long stamens that hang down toward the ground. Leather flower (Clematis viorna) has unusual flowers. They have no petals; the sepals look like leathery petals fused at their base. It grows in moist woodlands and can easily tolerate a north-facing fence.

Annual Vines

Climbing nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) looks just like regular nasturtium, but it climbs about 6 feet high. The flowers are edible. The cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) has reddish-purple flowers that look like little cups. The cup-shaped flowers sit atop green saucers. The black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) has single, flat flowers in orange, yellow or white. The flowers have dark-brown centres.

Vine Maintenance

Remove spent flowers on prolific-seeding flowering vines to keep them from spreading all over your property. Install a barrier beneath the soil to stop vines with vigorously spreading root systems to keep them in check. Prune back all vines when they reach the top of the fence and encourage them to grow horizontally, which will create a thick cover. Thin lateral branches in early spring to keep the vines from becoming overgrown.

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