If you are a gardener living in a hot, arid climate, I’m sure you have researched and/or tried a number of drought-tolerant plant varieties. There are many drought-resistant vines suited for dry gardens. The following discusses some excellent vines for hot gardens.
Why Grow Drought Tolerant Climbing Plants?
Growing drought tolerant vines satisfies several criteria. The most obvious being their need for very little water; they aren’t cactus though, and do require some.
Often hand in hand with lack of water is oppressive heat. Growing drought tolerant vines creates a natural arbor of shade that is often 10 degrees F (5.5 C.) cooler than the surrounding sun-drenched landscape.
Vines that can handle drought can also be planted right up against the house, again lending a curtain of greenery while cooling the inside temperature. Vines for hot gardens also provide wind protection, thus reducing dust, sun glare and reflected heat.
Vines, in general, add an interesting vertical line in the landscape and can act as a divider, barrier or privacy screen. Many vines have gorgeous flowers that add color and aroma. All this without taking up much ground space.
Types of Vines That Can Handle Drought
There are four main types of vines:
- Twining vines have stems that wrap around any available support.
- Tendril climbing vines are vines that support themselves via tendrils and side shoots up anything they can grab onto. These and twining types are suited to training up baffles, fences, pipes, trellises, posts or wooden towers.
- Self-climbing vines, which will attach themselves to rough surfaces like brick, concrete, or stone. These vines have aerial rootlets or adhesive “feet.”
- Non-climbing shrub vines are the fourth group. They grow long branches with no means of climbing and must be tied and trained by the gardener.
List of Drought Resistant Vines
- Arizona grape ivy – Arizona grape ivy is hardy to sunset zones 10-13. It is a slow growing deciduous vine that can be trained up walls, fences or trellises. It can become invasive and may need to be pruned to control it. It will freeze to the ground at temps below 20 degrees F. (-6 C.).
- Bougainvillea – Bougainvillea is a showy bloomer from early summer through fall good for sunset zones 12-21, which requires very little water. It will need to be tied to a support.
- Honeysuckle – Hardy in sunset zones 9-24, Cape honeysuckle is an evergreen shrubby vine that must be tied to supporting structures to develop a true vine habit. It is native to Africa and has vibrant orange-red tubular flowers.
- Carolina jessamine – Carolina jessamine uses twining stems to clamber up fences, trellises or walls. It can get very top heavy and should be pruned by 1/3 each year. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
- Cat’s claw vine – Cat’s claw vine (sunset zones 8-24) is an aggressive, rapidly growing vine that attaches itself to most any surface with claw-like tendrils. It has yellow two-inch (5 cm.), trumpet-shaped flowers in the spring and is great if you have a large vertical surface needing cover.
- Creeping fig – Creeping fig needs a medium amount of water and is an evergreen vine useful in sunset zones 8-24 attaching itself via aerial rootlets.
- Crossvine – Crossvine is a self-climbing vine hardy to sunset zones 4-9. An evergreen, foliage turns reddish-purple in the fall.
- Desert snapdragon – Desert snapdragon vine climbs via tendrils and is hardy to sunset zone 12. It is a smaller herbaceous vine capable of covering about a 3 foot (1 m.) area. It is ideal in hanging baskets or small trellises or gates.
- Grape – Grape grows rapidly, is deciduous with edible fruit, and is hardy to sunset zones 1-22.
- Hacienda creeper – Hacienda creeper (zones 10-12) looks much akin to the Virginia creeper but with smaller leaves. It does best with some protection from the hot afternoon sun in the summer.
- Jasmine – Primrose jasmine (zone 12) has a sprawling evergreen shrubby habit that can be trained to a trellis to show off its 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm.) double yellow blooms. Star jasmine is hardy through zones 8-24 and a gorgeous evergreen with thick, leathery leaves and bunches of star-shaped, aromatic white flowers.
- Lady Bank’s rose – Lady Bank’s rose is a non-climbing rose needs some shade as well during the heat of the day and is hardy to sunset zones 10-12. It can rapidly cover areas of 20 feet (6 m.) or more in a profusion of blossoms.
- Mexican flame vine – Mexican flame vine is hardy to zone 12 and also needs very little water. Butterflies love its orange-red clusters of flowers and it is resistant to pests and diseases.
- Silver lace vine – Silver lace vine is hardy to zones 10-12 and a deciduous twining vine with, as its name suggests, grayish foliage bearing huge masses of delicate white blooms in summer and fall.
- Trumpet vine – Pink Trumpet vine is fast growing and easy to grow and, once established, tolerates heat, sun, wind and drought as well as light frost. Violet trumpet vine is good to zones 9 and 12-28, has interesting leaves and trumpet-shaped lavender flowers with purple veins.
- Yucca vine – Also called yellow morning glory, this fast growing vine dies back at 32 degrees F. (0 C.) but is very drought tolerant. Use in sunset zones 12-24.
- Wisteria – Wisteria is long living, tolerates alkaline soils and needs little water with a reward of vast swaths of lilac, white, blue or pink blossoms in early summer.
This list is not a comprehensive listing of all drought tolerant climbing plants but meant to be a starting point. There are also a number of annual vines suited to growing in dry climates such as: