Rarely are fences the most attractive structures on a piece of property, but adding vines to a common wood or chain-link fence can add textures and colours that seem to transform it. Fence-covering vines are generally inexpensive and low-maintenance, and you can choose from a variety of annual, perennial, deciduous and evergreen vines.
Morning glory is an annual vine that dies back every winter. Replanting is rarely necessary, however, because the plant reseeds itself each year. Fast-growing, morning glory is a common choice for disguising chain-link fences. The vine is adorned with lush, spade-shaped leaves and small, delicate flowers that curl and close up during the warmest part of the day, opening in evening and morning. The flowers are most often purple-blue, but may also be red, white, rose or two-toned, depending of which variety you choose.
Honeysuckle is a hardy perennial that will come back year-after-year. Of roughly 180 known varieties, only a few are commonly grown around homes. Hall's honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Cape honeysuckle and scarlet trumpet are some of the most commonly-grown, and any of them will thrive on a fence. Honeysuckle blooms in summer with flowers that may be white, orange, pink, creamy yellow or a host of other colours depending on the variety you choose.
Wisteria is a strong perennial that blooms in May with dense clusters of fragrant, pale-purple flowers. Members of the bean family, there are 10 types of wisteria native to the eastern United states, but Chinese and Japanese wisteria are also commonly planted around fences. Chinese wisteria grows flowers in 7- to 12-inch clusters, while Japanese wisteria grows clusters 12 to 36 inches long. Chinese wisteria can grow rampantly, so only plant it if you have a large fence to cover. American wisteria grows less extensively, and features smaller, white flower clusters that bloom sporadically throughout the summer.
Virginia Creeper is a fast-growing deciduous vine whose leaves turn brilliant fiery red in autumn. The compound leaves generally feature five leaflets radiating outward from a central leaf stem like the spokes of a wheel. The vine also blooms with tiny white flowers in summer and clusters of small, blue-black berries that attract birds in fall. Virginia creeper is easy to grow on fences, but may get out of hand without management, sending out shoots that can smother other bushes and shrubs.
Perennial and evergreen, English ivy will not only survive for years but will also keep its colour through the colder months, creating winter interest for your property. English ivy will grow up chain-link, wood, stone and brick fences with ease, and can also be used as ground cover in areas where grass is either not desired or not practical. many leaf forms are available, most of them having three to five lobes and varying shades of green, sometimes with yellow or white variegation. The black berries the vine produces are poisonous.