The Best Annual Flowering Vines and Climbers

  • 01 of 11

    The Best Annual Flowering Vines for Your Garden

    morning glories on trellis
    Yukari Ochiai/ amana images/ Getty Images

    Flowering vines add so much to a garden. They add height, act as filler plants and most bloom for months, It takes time for most perennial vines to become established and flower well, but that's not a problem with annual vines. Many will start flowering by mid-summer and continue right through frost.

    Despite their multiple advantages, many gardeners never think to use them in their gardens. You won't often find annual flowering vines for sale in garden centers because as they grow, they...MORE become a tangled mess. But these plants are incredibly easy to start from seed, indoors or out, and require little maintenance. For the price of a packet of seeds you have vining flowers that can grow up structures and through plants, or cascade down from hanging baskets.

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  • 02 of 11

    Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)

    Black-Eyed Susan Vine
    Photo: Juliette Wade/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Thunbergia is a charming, dainty, short, annual vine that grows well in containers. The daisy-like flowers are small (1 1/2") and come in shades of white, yellow and orange. With their dark centers, they really do resemble Black-eyed Susans.

    You can often find Black-eyed Susan vines sold in hanging baskets. You will get longer vines when you grow them in the ground, but you tend to get more flowers if they are grown in a container. Being pot bound encourages them to bloom,

    The plants are very...MORE easy to grow from seed. You can start the seed indoors or direct sow after danger of frost. Keep the soil moist and you should see germination in 1 - 2 weeks.

    It can take awhile for the vines to start flowering, anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks, so starting the seed indoors 2-4 weeks before your last frost date will speed things along. If you do start them indoors, I would recommend peat or paper pots, so you can transplant without disturbance.

    Choose a site with full sun to partial shade. Black-eyed Susan vines like a soil rich in organic matter and regular water. Don't let your container dry out completely. You can expect it to grow 6 - ft. tall and be covered with flowers. They will get even larger in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 - 12, where they are perennial.

    More Tips for Growing Black-eyed Susan Vines

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  • 03 of 11

    Canary Creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum)

    Canary Creeper
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Canary Creeper is late season bloomer, staring in July and going through October. It is in the nasturtium family, but you probably won't notice much of a resemblance. The 1 inch yellow flowers really do resemble feathery birds. The foliage is also very attractive, with deeply divided palm-shaped leaves.

    Canary Creeper is a vigorous grower, but like its nasturtium cousins, it doesn't really grab hold of anything. It's more of a scrambler, which is probably why it's called canary cre...MOREeper. If you want it to grow on some type of support, you are going to have to help it find the way.  It does look good simply scrambling through other plants, though.

    The vines can easily reach 8 - 12 ft. tall While Canary Creeper  is perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 - 10, it is very often started from seed and grown as an annual.

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  • 04 of 11

    Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)

    Cardinal Climber Vine
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    If you'd like to attract hummingbirds to your garden, planting a Cardinal Climber vine is a good start. The trumpet-shaped flowers are full of nectar and are a brilliant red, which hummingbirds like.

    Cardinal Climber has feathery, light leaves that filter the view, allowing you to look through the vine but also providing some privacy. The plants flower heavily, but they can also self-sow aggressively. However only Arizona has banned their sale as an invasive. Usually the volunteer plants can...MORE be easily weeded out and many gardeners enjoy their free-growing nature.

    The plants do not like being moved, so direct sowing it your best option. The hard seeds will germinate better if scarified beforehand. But the plants are not particular about soil. Give them regular water and they should take care of themselves.

    The vines can reach lengths of 6 - 12 ft. Since they tend to twist and twine, it's hard to know exactly how long they are.

    More Tips for Growing Cardinal Climber

    Note: the seeds are poisonous, if ingested.

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  • 05 of 11

    Climbing Snapdragon (Asarina)

    Climbing Snapdragon
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Climbing Snapdragon is a deceptively fragile looking vine, but it is quite tenacious. It is not a snapdragon and the trumpet-shaped flowers are not very reminiscent of snapdragon flowers, so it's a puzzle how it got it's common name.

    This is a free-flowering twiner that is great in containers and spilling over walls. The vines will twine around strings and trellises and can be cut back if flowering drops off. Climbing snapdragon can even be grown as a house plant, if you have enough...MORE sunlight coming in.

    There are many named hybrids of Asarina, although seed can be hard to find. The flowers come in red, pink, lavender and blue with speckled white chins. Climbing Snapdragon is perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and higher, but it is fast growing and quick to flower, when used as an annual. Vines will climb about 6 - 8 ft. and bloom all summer.

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  • 06 of 11

    Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)

    Cup and Saucer Vine
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    The flowers of Cup and Saucer vine are truly unique. One glance and you will know how they got the common names Cup and Saucer Vine and Cathedral Bells. These unusual looking flowers are also sweetly scented. The vines attach themselves to supports gently, with tendrils. The actual flower is the cup. These are usually lavender or white. They are surrounded by a saucer or collar of green calyx.

    Cup and Saucer vines take awhile to start blooming, so it helps to start the seeds indoors, 6 - 8 weeks...MORE before your last frost date. The flat seeds germinate better when planted on their edge. This makes them less prone to rot.

    Cup and Saucer vine is not particular about the soil it grows in, but for the best blooms, plant it in full sun. The vines can grow very long, more than 20 ft. in ideal conditions. And don't be tempted to put them outdoors too early. They are very sensitive to cold temperatures.

    Although often grown as an annual, the vines are perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 - 10

    More Tips for Growing Cup and Saucer Vine

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  • 07 of 11

    Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)

    Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor)
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    I think everyone remembers seeing this old-fashioned favorite as a child. Morning glory is one of the easiest flowering vines to grow. In fact, it can be a little to eager and self sow with abandon. Even so, gardeners who love this vine are willing to weed out the extras and they do make a great, fast growing screen.

    They call it morning glory for a reason - the flowers will close in the afternoon heat. Some people also refer to it as the Back to School Vine, because it can wait until the end of...MORE summer to start flowering. However Morning Glories are vigorous vines that don't require much care and they come in a variety of colors.

    Morning glory is a true annual plant. They do best when direct sown, anytime after danger of frost. The seeds are very hard and germinate better is scarified.  These are tightly vining plants that can grow 15 ft. or more.

    More Tips for Growing Morning Glories

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  • 08 of 11

    Ornamental Gourds

    Ornamental Gourds
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Ornamental gourds aren't grown for their flowers, but for their seed pods - the gourds. There's a wide variety of gourds that grow easily and quickly in just a few months. Many people let the vines sprawl on the ground, like squash, but if you are growing them for decoration, they remain cleaner and less pest prone if you give them a structure to grow on. A pergola or arbor looks especially fun with the vines growing across it and the gourds dangling down above your head. Many of the...MORE gourds are easy to dry and can be used as decorations or crafts, like gourd birdhouses.

    Gourds grow like any other squash family member. They need full sun and soil with plenty of organic matter worked in. Unfortunately they also attract all the same pests as squash, from squash beetles and bugs to groundhogs to powdery mildew. But they are very prolific vines and the colorful harvest at the end of the season makes a little pampering well worth it.

     More tips for Growing Gourds

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  • 09 of 11

    Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus)

    Purple Hyacinth Bean
    Phot: shuige / Getty Images

    Everything about this vine is riotous. The heart-shaped leaves have purple veining on the under-sides. The stems have a deep-purple cast. The profuse blooms are a rich lavender and the glossy pods are almost day glow purple. At one time this was an important foraged food source, but now it is mostly grown as an ornamental. The vines grow quickly and start flowering early. Flowering tapers off, as the pods begin to form, but the plants remain attractive and continue spiraling upward.

    These are...MORE best direct sown in the garden. As with so many flowering vines, the seeds are tough and germinate better if scarified first. Flowering generally starts in mid-summer and continues on through fall. Once there are a lot of seed pods forming, the flowering will diminish, but the pods are just as attractive, if not more so.

    The pods are edible, but are toxic if not cooked.

    The vines usually reach a height of 6 - 15 ft., however they can be perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10 and above and even develop woody stems.

    More tips for Growing Purple Hyacinth Bean

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  • 10 of 11

    Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

    Runner Bean Flowers
    Photo © Marie Iannotti

    Runner beans, like hyacinth beans, are generally grown for their ornamental flowers. However Scarlet Runner beans make a nice eating bean, when harvested young. Because the flowers are so lovely (and there are so many of them), you can understand why it's gained a reputation as a flowering vine.

    The vines can get long and heavy very quickly, so be sure to provide a good support for them to grow on. Although Scarlet Runner is commonly available, there are many other runner beans in shades of...MORE red, pink, white or some combination. 'Painted Lady' is a soft red and white flower and the vines can tolerate heat better than most runner beans. 'Moonlight' is a pure white flower that produces one of the better tasting, stringless runner bean pods.

    The plants are perennial in hot climates and may even survive a mild winter in cooler zones. They require the same care as pole green beans and can produce pods just as heavily. Other than regular water, they shouldn't need much care. A layer of mulch will keep the ground moist and cool for them and a side dressing of compost in mid-summer will give them an extra boost to get through the remainder of the season.

    More Tips for Growing Scarlett Runner Beans

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  • 11 of 11

    Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

    Sweet Pea Flower

    Sweet Pea flowers look delicate, but this is a tough little vine that favors the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. The flowers are known for their heavy, sweet fragrance, but not all new cultivars are scented. Be sure to read the seed packet before buying.

    Sweet peas make great cut flowers. The more you cut, the longer the plants will bloom. A great way to use Sweet Peas is to grow them in the vegetable garden, with your pole beans. They add color and fragrance, but they also entice more...MORE bees and other pollinating insects.

    Sweet peas can be direct sown about the same time as edible peas, They have a hard seed coating and scarification will speed germination. If you want to get a head start, you can sow seed indoors, about 4 - 6 weeks before your last frost date and transplant outdoors after all danger of frost. When the plants reach about 3-6 in. tall, pinch the seedlings to encourage strong side shoots.

    Don't be afraid to cut your sweet peas. The more you cut, they more buds they will set. Vines climb about 6 - 8 ft. tall. 

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