How to Identify Climbing Vines
Identifying climbing vines is usually easier during the summer months when the vines have flowers. As with any plant identification, note the leaves, flowers, and growth habits of the vine. Get a good field guide to local flora and use the most striking feature of the vine for identification purposes.
Clematis is a flowering perennial vine found in many gardens. It's easily identified by the flowers which range in color from white to dark purple. Clematis flowers during the summer and has medium green leaves.
Honeysuckle vines can be identified by their fragrance, flowers and blooming habit. The fragrance is perhaps the first thing most people notice. When honeysuckle vines bloom, the sweet, rich fragrance smells like perfume. The flowers may be white, yellow or orange, and sometimes turn different shades over time. Look for honeysuckle growing wild along sunny fences or shrubs.
Morning Glory Vines
Morning glories can be identified by their blooming habits. Morning glory vines produce large, saucer-shaped blue, purple or magenta flowers. The flowers only bloom in the morning and close up around noon.
Found growing along fences, trees, and hedgerows, the invasive trumpet vine is easily identified by its large, orange tubular shaped flowers. This very aggressive vine loves full sun. Hummingbirds often feed upon the flowers.
Ivy is one of the climbing vines that does not flower. The leaves are pointed and may be many shades of green, ranging from light green to dark, with variegated colors possible. Ivy climbs posts, fences, and walls, and the tendrils may actually damage mortar if left unchecked growing on walls.
Grapes are another type of climbing vine, although you may not immediately think of them when you're trying to identify vines. If you've bought an old farm and notice the thick, twisty stems and spade-shaped leaves, you just may have a grapevine. Of course the best way to identify a grapevine is to wait until the fall when the clusters of fruit develop.
It's the same plant used to grow hops, which are made into beer. Hops vines can be identified by their serrated leaf edges and the clusters of hops hanging off the vine, which look like pine cones. Hops are used to brew beer and flavor foods.
Vine Identification Tips
Identifying climbing vines is usually fairly easy, especially during the summer months when most vines begin blooming. Get a good guidebook or tip sheets from your local county Cooperative Extension office and compare pictures of plants to what you have found in your garden or in the wild. Note the flower color and shape, leaf color and shape, habits, and any special features such as fragrance or attraction for hummingbirds. Soon you'll be an old pro at identifying climbing vines.