Native vines are a totally underused plant in Mid-Atlantic gardens. Filling gaps, covering walls and fences, and a great vertical element in any garden, vines can be used to attract native butterflies and insects to your garden. Vines are useful if you don’t have a ton of room and usually grow quickly and form almost instant screens.
For instance, the pipevine swallowtail feeds on Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia macrophylla, which is a valuable woody vine that can cover a huge area quickly, a season or less. Useful as a screening vine, it is a snap to grow. Another native, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, is frequently visited by hummingbirds and long-tongued insect pollinators (e.g., white-lined sphinx moth). And Wisteria frutescens, Amethyst Falls, is a better behaved version of the rampant Asian Wisteria, which I have found growing inside houses through basement windows!
Native to the eastern United States from southern Maine to Florida and westward to Illinois and Texas. Related to the highly invasive Amur Honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii, and Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica.
Trumpet Honeysuckle is a versatile and beautiful vine that comes in several colors. Noted for its 1- to 2-inch-long tubular flowers that appear in early summer, it is a magnet for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Under ideal growing conditions, it will put on a second flush of blooms in the fall. Flowers turn into orange to red berries in late summer and fall which birds love.
Needing support with a fence or trellis, this vines grab hold and start to grow without tying in. The only downside is this honeysuckle doesn’t have the wonderful scent of the invasive species.
Common ones found in the trade include ‘John Clayton’, which features yellow flowers and grows only 7 to 10 feet long; ‘Major Wheeler’, a floriferous cultivar with deep red flowers and very good mildew resistance; and ‘Magnifica’, a compact vine with crimson flowers with orange lips.
Native to the Appalachian Mountains from New York to Tennessee, but can also be found sporadically from Maine to Alabama.
Pipevine, also called Dutchman’s pipe, is a woody vine that is most easily identified by its large heart-shaped leaves. This vine can provide a dense screen of foliage to a porch or arbor from early May to October. Since the vine can get quite heavy, choose your supporting structure with care.
It has very interesting pipe-shaped, mahogany-colored flowers that appear in mid-May to June and actually resemble pipes! These are usually hidden under the leaves but are worth searching for.
Pipevine is the host plant for caterpillars of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly and can reach 30′ in length.
Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’
A superior selection of our little-known native wisteria, this deciduous vine is really special and not many people know about it. Much less aggressive than the Asian variety which many people are more familiar with, it is a dainty vine that grows slowly but surely to cover a vertical structure. Consider it to be a dwarf version of the exotic Asian behemoth that can quickly cover and undermine buildings. ‘Amethyst Falls’ is the named variety and it is a charmer.
Lightly fragrant, lavender-purple, and borne in cascading 4- to 6-inch racemes in May and June, I have it growing on my pergola. Great for containers as well, I see this variety offered up more and more at local nurseries. Deer resistant and drought tolerant, everyone with a small or large garden should have room for this great plant.
It is a host plant for the Marine Blue butterfly, Silver-spotted skipper, and Long-tailed skipper.