How to Attach Vines to Cement Walls

Cement walls may do the job of restricting access to your property or providing privacy, but they may not have much visual appeal. Vines can soften the harsh outlines and drab color of the cement walls. Only a few kinds of vines, though, are equipped with self-adhesive pads or discs that can cling to cement's smooth, hard surface. The simple way to attach vines to cement walls is to choose one of the vines that nature equips to cling. Attaching other vines requires installing devices into or onto the cement walls.

Closeup of a blooming Climbing hydrangea
credit: RuudMorijn/iStock/Getty Images
Climbing hydrangea produces small, white flowers and bright fall color.

Use Self-Adhesive Vines

Among the vines that can attach themselves to cement walls are two related vines with bright-red color in fall. They are Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), which has open growth and reaches 30 or 50 feet tall, and the Boston ivy cultivar "Veitchii" (Parthenocissus tricuspidata "Veitchii"), which grows 30 to 45 feet tall and has purplish new growth. Both of those vines have adhesive suckers and are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Their blue-black berries are toxic if eaten, and some people experience skin irritation from the plants' leaves. Also, both of the plants are invasive in some locations; keep them pruned and contained to prevent that problem.

Another vine that can attach itself to cement walls is creeping fig (Ficus pumila, USDA zones 9 through 11), which grows 25 to 30 feet tall. The self-adhesive vine with the longest growth potential -- 80 feet -- is climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, USDA zones 5 through 9). Its root pads can attach to cement walls, and its lacy caps of white flowers appear in summer.

Install Wire Supports

Lightweight vines that don't have adhesive discs or tendrils can grow on a support system that is attached to cement walls. Attach masonry nails in a grid arrangement across each wall's vertical surface, and stretch galvanized wires from nail to nail, forming a system of wires. Then use plant ties or plastic tape to attach the growing vines to the wires. Lightweight vines suitable to grow on such a wire system include star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides, USDA zones 8 through 11), the white flowers of which perfume the air with intense fragrance in spring. Its leathery, evergreen leaves provide year-round interest.

Use Espalier Devices

Although they were developed for the centuries-old technique of espaliering woody plants against walls for vertical gardening, espalier devices also work for vining plants that can't support themselves on cement surfaces. Garden wall ties glue buttonlike supports to walls, and vines can be attached to those supports. Other options are to use masonry staples or to screw eye-hooks attached to lead expansion shields. Espalier devices can support relatively heavy vines, such as Purple Queen bougainvillea (Bougainvillea "Moneth," USDA zones 10 through 11).

Attach a Trellis

Wooden trellis panels attached to cement walls provide firm support for vines, and the vines can be woven through the panels. Prepare wooden trellis panels for attachment to cement walls by drilling 3/16-inch-wide holes in each end of the panels. With the panels against the walls and about 8 inches off the ground, drill 3/16-inch-wide holes through the trellis panel holes you made and into the walls. Using a cordless drill, drive 2-inch-long masonry screws outfitted with steel washers through the holes to attach the trellis panels to the walls. Also tying vines' stems to the trellis panels provides more secure support for the plants. A vine that responds well to trellis training is potato vine (Solanum jasminoides, USDA zones 9 through 11), which produces star-shaped, white flowers in spring and summer.

Carolyn Csanyi

Carolyn Csanyi began writing in 1973, specializing in topics related to plants, insects and southwestern ecology. Her work has appeared in the "American Midland Naturalist" and Greenwood Press. Csanyi holds a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.