Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Posts Tagged: vines

Can vines speed urban cooling?

Parthenocissus tricuspidata, known as Boston ivy, growing at the Hickey Gym on the UC Davis campus. Photo by Emily C. Dooley, UC Davis

Study explores cooling benefits of fast-growing vines as trees take their time

Perhaps trees aren't the only green solution when it comes to cooling urban spaces and reducing energy costs. Honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, pink trumpet and other vines could be a fast-growing substitute in climate-smart cities of the future.

Researchers from UC Davis are leading a nearly $880,000 federal grant to study how vines may provide cooling and shade in Western states in less time than it takes a tree to grow tall.

“Vines can quickly shade buildings and reduce energy consumption while trees slowly grow to maturity,” said Alessandro Ossola, an assistant professor of plant sciences who is a principal investigator for the project. “We believe vines can be an effective and cheap measure to help cities accelerating climate change adaptation.”

The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service will fund work to plant and monitor at least 10 types of vines on trellises in five locations in different climate zones over three years. California Department of Food and Agriculture is administering the grant.

Using less water

Water conservation will be vital as populations rise, climate extremes become more prevalent and the demand for agricultural and drinking water increases. The goal of this research is to identify vines that can help save energy by providing cooling and reduce the need for irrigated water.

“In addition to rapid growth rates, vines can be easily integrated with structures to maximize potential cooling effects,” said Loren Oki, a Cooperative Extension specialist with Department of Plant Sciences, who is the project lead. “But we need to understand the relationships between low water-use plants and their ability to reduce thermal loads on buildings.”

A trumpet flower attracts hummingbirds and provides shade as it grows up a trellis beside a home in Yolo County. Photo by Kat Kerlin, UC Davis
Two research sites will be in California, with one each in Arizona, Utah and Washington.

The vines will be planted, supported by a trellis and watered regularly during the first growing season to establish deep roots and healthy shoots. Over the next two years, the vines will experience low, moderate and high water allocations.

The vines will be rated on aesthetics, foliage quality, floral quantity, pest and disease resistance, appearance and other factors. Thermal images of trellis coverage and other environmental measurements will also be taken to assess shading and cooling potential, according to grant documents.

Many vines can be grown along cables and wire nets that are actually detached from walls to avoid direct contact and still provide shade, Ossola said.

“We want to understand which vine characteristics relate to fast growth, reduced water use and increased aesthetic appeal,” he added.

Outreach and education

The findings will enable recommendations to be developed for regions, planners, the landscape industry and the public. It could lead to plants being designated as “water-wise,” “low-water use,” “energy-saving” or “cooling.”

Extensive engagement and outreach will also publicize the information.

“Climate change is a great opportunity for the horticultural industry to innovate and promote climate-ready plant productions,” Ossola said.

USDA funding supports research across state lines to find innovative solutions to regional and national problems, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a news release announcing this and other grants.

“This year's funded projects will address a range of those challenges, from energy and water saving in vine plants, finding cost-effective solutions for heat tolerance and drought, to addressing food safety risks for produce,” Moffitt said.

Scientists from the University of Arizona, University of Washington, Utah State University and the South Coast Research and Extension Center at UC Agricultural and Natural Resources are contributing to the research and will be overseeing vine sites in their states. 

This article is reprinted from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental (CA&ES) website, where it is titled "Could Vines Be the Answers to Speeding Urban Cooling, Water Reduction in the West?"

Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 1:17 PM
  • Author: Emily C. Dooley, UC Davis
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Natural Resources

Rest Stop at the Arrol-Metz House

One of my favorite things in the garden is getting to watch the hummingbirds. I enjoy watching them travel from flower to flower, trying a little nectar here, and then a little nectar there.  I love it when the sunlight reflects off their throat patch, giving it that ruby glow. I am impressed by their moxie.  They don't seem afraid of creatures much larger than they are.  I love their chirrupy call and the sound their wings make. I've been watching them for years, so I thought I'd seen pretty much everything ...

Until a few mornings ago, I went to my window and saw a hummingbird going from grape leaf to grape leaf. I was really puzzled as I knew there were not any flowers on the vine, and only two clusters of grapes on that vine.  As I got closer I saw he was rubbing himself on the leaf, then ducking his head and throwing back his shoulders, all while his little wings were just whirring away. He did this on several leaves, before it finally dawned on me what was going on.  The sprinklers had just finished running and the grape leaves were sheeted with water.  The hummer was cleaning himself in the water on the leaves, and seemed to be having a grand time.

He also seems to think that the tomato cages have been put out for his convenience to perch on and rest in between checking out gladiola blossoms. Hey, I am always happy to be of service.

Posted on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Adopted Vine in Lodi

Yes, this is my first adoption and it is a 'Zinfandel' vine on the property of Lucas Winery in Lodi. The vines in this California Certified Organic Farm, CCOF, are over 80 years old. A friend took me there to celebrate my birthday and I saw an opportunity to take part in the winery’s educational series. At the first event in March, we learned how to do spring pruning of the vine. Winemaker and owner, Heather Lucas demonstrated how to prune the spurs from the “arms” of the vine. The idea is to prune away any spurs, except one that is closest to the arm. Then on the remaining spur it is pruned down to two buds. This sounds easy, but there are agonizing decisions to make. Should the thicker spur remain even though it is further away on the arm? It is often just a judgment call, as we saw Heather and her husband, David, discuss their cuts. Well, we will see what happens at the next class in May, when we go back to remove weak shoots to help the vine produce the best quality wine.

Karen and her vine.
Karen and her vine.

Heather Lucas pruning.
Heather Lucas pruning.

Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Potato, Potah-toe!

White potato vine, or Solanum jasminoides if you’re being formal, doesn’t look anything like a potato and grows up rather than underground.  Its leaves are nearly always bright green and it produces white flowers even in the winter.

Delicate white flowers adorn the vine. (photos by Marime Burton)

It disguises old fences nicely and can be trained to grow all over them.  If you prefer it can be trimmed to add just a couple of feet of greenery to the top of a fence that’s not quite tall enough to hide your neighbor’s unkempt backyard.

The vine is soft and pliable and easy to cut which makes pruning a relatively simple job.

It can get bushy if not trimmed occasionally, and may try to get away from you, which could require a harder pruning.  Afterward, agreeable as the White Potato Vine is, it will bounce right back to a more reasonable size and shape.

From the beginning white potato vine grows without much fuss.  Weather doesn’t seem to affect it, most any soil is just fine, thank you, and it requires little water after the first year or two.

Its versatility, relatively low maintenance and nearly year-round green and white presence make White Potato Vine a great garden background.


White potato vine used as a screen atop a fence.


Posted on Monday, November 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Read more

Webmaster Email: