Vines For Small Spaces: Growing Vines In The City

Urban dwellings such as condos and apartments often lack privacy. Plants can create secluded areas, but space can be an issue since many plants grow as wide as they are tall. This is when urban vine growing comes into play. True, some vines can be huge and these vines don’t belong in the city garden, but there are plenty of vines for small spaces, even vines that can be grown in containers. Read on to learn how to grow vines with no space.

About Urban Vine Growing

When it comes to growing vines with no space, it pays to do some research. Not only are some types of vines vigorous growers (which is good if you wish to cover an area ASAP), but they can get out of hand in terms of size.

Size isn’t the only issue when choosing vines for small spaces. Some vines, such as Virginia creeper and creeping fig, use small suction cups and aerial roots to cling to whatever they are clambering up. This isn’t great news in the long run, as these clinging vines can damage soft brick, mortar and wood siding.

The one thing that is absolutely necessary when growing vines in the city is some form of support. This may be a trellis or DIY support or fence. Even vines in containers will need some type of support.

When growing vines in the city, or really anywhere, consider what you are growing the vine for. Often, privacy is the answer, but take it a bit further. If you want privacy, then consider utilizing evergreen vines, such as evergreen clematis.

Also, consider whether you want the vine to bloom, fruit, and/or have fall color as well as what type of light will be available. Lastly, consider the growth rate of the vine. For instance, silver lace vine can grow up to 25 feet (8 m.) in a year, while a climbing hydrangea takes its sweet time and may take years before it gives any coverage.

Choosing Vines for Small Spaces

Wisteria is a classically romantic, vigorous deciduous vine, but it does need sturdy support and isn’t the best choice when growing vines with no space. Instead, look for smaller, daintier types of vines such as the Tasmanian blueberry vine or the Chilean bellflower.

The Tasmanian blueberry vine (Billardiera longiflora), also called climbing blueberry, only gets to about 4 feet (1 m.) in height and, as the name suggests, produces edible fruit. Chilean bellflower (Lapageria rosea) has huge, tropical bell-shaped blooms on a vine that grows to about 10 feet (3 m.).

Smaller landscape or lanai owers may be looking to grow vines in containers. Clematis is an example of a vine that does well in containers, as are the following:

  • Black-eyed Susan vine
  • Butterfly pea
  • Canary creeper
  • Climbing hydrangea
  • Climbing rose
  • Climbing snapdragon
  • Cup and saucer vine
  • Dutchmen’s pipe
  • Honeysuckle
  • Boston ivy
  • Jasmine
  • Mandevilla
  • Moonflower
  • Morning glory
  • Passion vine
  • Snail vine
  • Sweet pea
  • Trumpet vine

Green Thumb Basics

Plant care basics, DIY soil mixes, knowing when and what to plant, and more.

Container Gardening

The best materials to use, specific container growing tips, and DIY plans.

Raised Beds

Building simple raised beds, filling them, and planting in them to maximize space and productivity.

Vertical Gardening

All sorts of techniques for growing vertically and maximizing your space and yield.

Balconies & Rooftops

Techniques to maximize growing space on balconies and how to approach building a rooftop garden.

Indoor Edibles

Starting a kitchen herb garden, growing microgreens, and more.


Breakdown of 6 major hydroponic growing methods with in-depth build plans.

Growing Problems

How to avoid the most common pests, diseases, and gardener-induced mistakes.

What's Inside?

If you’re a beginner gardener looking to jump-start your knowledge have a lot more success in the garden, you’ll love Field Guide to Urban Gardening.

In a stark contrast to many gardening books, you won’t find a lot of specific information on growing a particular plant.

Instead, I took the approach of explaining the why behind growing plants, giving you foundational knowledge to build your garden upon.

I also give you a plethora of growing options to fit to your unique living situation.

The book is divided into three main sections…

Green Thumb Basics

The basics of plant care. The resources plants need to grow, making soil mixes, site selection, etc. This section teaches you the foundations of being a good gardener.

Growing Methods

Six different gardening methods for you to choose from, based on your unique living space. From raised beds to hydroponics, each section has multiple plans for gardens you can try at home.

Growing Problems

How to deal with the most common pests, diseases, and avoid the classic mistakes most gardeners make.

It's best to grow dipladenia in a container.

Dipladenia thrives in containers, as a hanging plant, or in the ground, but Myers suggests planting them in containers and then training them on a trellis, allowing the flowers to really become the focal point. "They can be the trailer, thriller, or filler," she explains, adding that they're commonly mixed in containers with other sun-loving plants. These flowers are also perfect for attracting pollinators, especially butterflies and hummingbirds.

How do I choose the right tree?

Let’s quickly explain the different columnar apple trees, helping you to make the right choice for your space.

The Ballerina Group

Photo credit: Pinterest

These trees have a natural columnar shape, rather than a manipulated one. There are several varieties available, all growing with a single pole stem and very short, almost non-existent side branches. Ballerina Apple trees have the tightest-growing form of all the choices available, and descend from a common ancestor apple: the McIntosh Wijcik. This, incidentally, is a relative of the well-known McIntosh apple cultivar.

Ballerinas are compact, ornamental trees, perfect for smaller gardens. In addition, they require less hard summer pruning than other similar forms. A disadvantage to this group is that the naturally growing variety of apple cultivars is quite limited, and regarded as less flavoursome. That said, there are new variations becoming available all the time.

Minarette and Supercoloumn Apple Trees

Photo credit: Groupon

Both of these are regular apple trees that have been manipulated by close-pruning. This concentrates fruiting along the tree’s main stem to achieve the popular columnar effect. They’re not a specific apple variety—just a style of training and pruning. These are also known as “Vertical Cordons”.

Many apple and pear trees can be trained in this vertical growing manner, which has many advantages. It brings far more variety to the buyer, better, flavoursome fruits, and ultimately, higher yields than cultivars in the Ballerina group. Minarettes produce an abundant crop of fruits on short spurs all the way up the vertical stem, reaching a manageable height of 6–8 feet in maturity.

Maintain regular summer pruning with the Minarette and Supercolumn trees, or they’ll revert back to their natural forms.

What are Oblique Cordon Fruit Trees?

Photo credit: Pinterest

Many fruit-growing fanatics will already have heard of “oblique cordon” trees. These are fruit trees that have been pruned in the same way as above, but planted in the ground at a 45 degree angle. Oblique cordons are generally seen to be a more productive method of fruit cultivation.

This is because the stem’s angle successfully mimics the branch angle on a regular fruit tree. hese results confirm the general principle of fruit trees, being that horizontal growth provides fruit, while vertical growth is greener and more vegetative.

Overall, all fruits grown in any of the cordon forms are shown to be of a good quality. Sunlight penetrates every part of the tree which aids in the all-important ripening process.

Which sort of Cultivars are Best for Growing as a Columnar Apple Tree?

pixel2013 / Pixabay

Cordon training is a useful way of growing a good amount of great-quality fruit in even the smallest spaces. It’s a suitable growing technique for all apple and pear cultivars that bear their fruits on short side-shoots. These are also known as spur-bearing fruit trees.

In addition to cultivars that are tip-bearing (bear their fruits on the tips of the branches), very vigorous cultivars are best avoided when choosing to grow as columnar trees. These can be difficult to keep in shape, and pruning would remove the tree’s fruiting parts.

Partial tip-bearing cultivars, (apples that bear their fruits on both tips and side-shoots), can be grown as cordons. Just leave some short branches unpruned each year to achieve successful cropping.

Get the dirt

If you lay a strong foundation, your plants are much more likely to flourish. Novak says peat moss and compost mixed in will bring a wide variety of nutrients. If you’re planting in a closed container, no matter the size, you want potting soil mixed with those things, too. (McEnroe and Farfard are solid brands to look out for.) And skip the non-organic brands. “They’re not as healthy for the plants, or for you,” says Novak. Putting mulch on top is helpful, as well, because it retains moisture (read: less watering) and keeps weeds at bay. When in doubt, go to your local nursery (they’re everywhere) and talk to the people who work there. They’re super knowledgeable and eager to give advice for your particular situation.

How Should I Lay Out My Garden

If you were to gather together a group of experienced gardeners and ask them, "What is the best way to plant a garden?", you are likely to hear more answers than you are prepared for. I did my time in the trenches and it seemed as if every one of my gardening friends had a different answer. Some liked rows, some preferred the "square foot" method, others like intensive gardening, and then there is always raised bed gardening to consider.

Why Row Planting Is Not Always the Best for Gardens

The traditional way to plant a garden has been to plant each type of vegetable in long rows. You might think this is a good thing, but there are a couple of very good reasons why this may not always be the best choice:

  • Waste of space: No matter how you plant your rows, you will always end up with a lot of wasted space between each row.
  • More maintenance: Not only do you have to weed between the plants, you also have to weed the spaces between the rows, making more work than necessary.
  • More water consumption: No matter what type of plant spacing you use, you end up watering the space between the rows. This wastes a lot of water.
  • Not all plants can be put in rows next to each other for reasons such as shade and room to spread out.

What about Square Foot or Triangle Gardening?

Square foot and triangle gardening are both forms of intensive gardening. These methods involve planting and raising your plants in compact raised or ground level beds. Using this method allows you to grow a wide variety of crops in a relatively small area. In essence, you map out your garden and then laying it out in a grid on paper.

This is what the typical square foot garden map might look like, You can do the same with triangles depending on how much space you have to work with. In your garden it might look like this:

Or this if you prefer raised garden beds:

There are several major advantages to this type of intensive gardening:

  • Your garden will take up less space due to the efficient use of every square foot of garden space.
  • Your garden will require less maintenance such as tilling, weeding, composting and watering.
  • Your garden will need up to 80% less water than traditional row gardening.
  • Easy weed and pest control as small sections are easier to protect from insects and the compact nature of the style leaves very little open soil for weeds to grow in.
  • Higher yields are considered normal with this type of gardening.

Planting Close Together

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that intensive gardening, or planting close together has a number of advantages. It will allow you to maximize the productivity of every inch of available garden.

When your plant spacing is very close, you leave very little room for weeds to grow. Not only do they have little in the way of available soil to work with, but as your vegetables grow and create their own shade, this will help to choke out any sunlight reaching the ground and prevent weeds from growing. You can also use landscaping fabric to prevent weed from growing.

Planting your garden in this manner also helps to reduce the amount of water needed to keep your garden growing. The plants still need the same amount of water to grow, the big difference is that your soil does not lose nearly as much through evaporation during the hot summer days. You may find you can do the bulk of your watering using drip irrigation rather than a wasteful sprinkler system.

Not only is this type of irrigation better for your plants because it put the water right at the roots where it's needed most, but it will make a big difference in your monthly water bill. It will also help to prevent problems like root rot as the soil should never become over-soaked.

Watch the video: Grow Flowering Vines in Pot And Still Get 200+ Flowers Daily

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