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Vertical gardening with small vines

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Courtesy of Genevieve Schmidt

(Read caption) In warm climates, Chilean bellflower, Lapageria rosea, produces large coral-red blooms over a long period of time.

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While recent books such as "Garden Up!" have highlighted the trend toward vertical gardening, finding plants that suit tight spaces can be a challenge. Most garden plants grow as wide as they do tall, and need pruning and training to grow up rather than out.

Small vines can be an excellent solution to this problem, as they can easily climb a trellis or structure without outgrowing their space.

Top picks for petite vines

Tasmanian blueberry vine, Billardiera longiflora, [see photo at left] is a tough, hardy vine that grows no more than 10 feet tall. It has chartreuse bell-shaped flowers that mature to deep-purple berries shaped like squat bell peppers.

In its native Tasmania, it's referred to as appleberry, because the edible fruit has a spicy kick with a mild apple flavor.

With once-a-year pruning, you can keep Tasmanian blueberry vine to 4 feet tall, making it a perfect choice for small patios or containers. It is as happy in sun as it is in shade.(Zone 7b and warmer)

Chilean bellflower, Lapageria rosea, [see two photos above] blooms almost nonstop with gorgeous, tropical-looking hanging bell-shaped flowers that average a whopping four inches in length! The vivid coral-red color shines in the landscape, and its deep green, leathery leaves make a nice backdrop to the blossoms.

It prefers light shade and regular watering, and can grow to 10 feet or be kept smaller on a structure or overhang.

In my experience, this is a lanky, thin grower, which is great in certain situations, like if you'd like to train it up a rain gutter or grow it intertwined with another plant. Avoid giving Chilean bellflower phosphorus-containing fertilizers, and stick with a yearly application of compost or mulch instead. (Zone 8 or 9)

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