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The Best Annual Flowering Vines for Your Garden
Flowering vines add so much to a garden. They add height, act as filler plants, and most bloom for months. While it takes time for most perennial vines to become established and flower well, that's not a problem with annual vines. Many spring-planted annual vines will start flowering by mid-summer and continue right through frost.
Despite their multiple advantages, many gardeners never think to use these annual vines in their gardens. Even garden centers tend to downplay them since annual vines can become a tangled mess in the store. 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.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)
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 the garden perennial 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,
It can take awhile for the vines to start flowering, anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, so starting the seed indoors 2 to 4 weeks before your last frost date will speed things along. For indoor seeding, start the plants in peat pots 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 feet tall and to be covered with flowers. They will get even larger in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12, where they are perennial.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Canary Creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum)
Canary creeper is late season bloomer, starting 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, and if you want it to grow up a trellis or other support, you will need to tie it in place. It does look good simply scrambling through other plants, though.
The vines can easily reach 8 to 12 feet tall While canary creeper is perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 10, it is very often started from seed each year and grown as an annual.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)
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 be easily weeded out and many gardeners enjoy their free-growing nature.
The plants do not like being moved, so direct sowing in the garden is 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 to 12 feet. Since they tend to twist and twine, it's hard to know exactly how long the vines are.
Note: the seeds are poisonous if ingested.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Climbing Snapdragon (Asarina)
Climbing Snapdragon is a deceptively fragile-looking vine, but in fact, it is quite tenacious. The common name is a bit of a misnomer since this is not a snapdragon variety and the trumpet-shaped flowers are not very reminiscent of snapdragon flowers.
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 houseplant if you have enough sunlight coming in.
There are many named hybrids of Asarina, although seeds 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 above, but it is fast growing and quick to flower when used as an annual. Vines will climb about 6 to 8 feet and bloom all summer.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)
The sweet-smelling flowers of this plant are truly unique and are indeed shaped like a cup and saucer (another common name for this plant is cathedral bells). The actual flower of the plant is the internal "cup," which is usually lavender or white. They are surrounded by a saucer or collar of green calyx. The vines gently attach themselves to supports with tendrils.
Cup and saucer vines take awhile to start blooming, so it helps to start the seeds indoors, 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. The flat seeds germinate better when planted on their edges, which 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 feet 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 to 11.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
An old favorite, morning glory is one of the easiest flowering vines to grow. In fact, it can be a little too eager, self-sowing 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. Morning glories are vigorous vines that don't require much care and they come in a variety of colors.
This plant is called morning glory for a reason: the flowers will close in the afternoon heat. Some people also refer to it as back-to-school vine, because it sometimes waits until the end of summer to start flowering.
Morning glory is a true annual plant and does not perennialize, except via self-seeding. They do best when direct -sown in the garden, anytime after danger of frost. The seeds are very hard and germinate better if scarified. These are tightly vining plants that can grow 15 feet or more.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Ornamental gourds aren't grown for their flowers, but for the large attractive 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, gourds remain cleaner and less pest-prone if you give them a structure to grow on. A pergola or arbor looks especially interesting with the vines growing across it and the gourds dangling down above your head. Many gourds are easy to dry and can be used as decorations or crafts, such as gourd birdhouses.
Grow gourds as you would any other member of the squash family member. They need full sun and soil with plenty of organic matter worked in. Unfortunately, they also subject to all the same pests and ailments as squash, from squash beetles 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.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus)
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 an almost day-glow purple. At one time, purple hyacinth bean 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.
Purple hyacinth bean is best grown by direct-sowing 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, though this is not a drawback, since the pods are just as attractive as the flowers, if not more so.
The vines usually reach a height of 6 to 15 feet. This plant can be perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10 and above, where they may develop woody stems.
The pods are edible but are toxic if not cooked.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
Runner beans, like hyacinth beans, are generally grown for their ornamental flowers. However scarlet runner beans make a nice edible 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 the commonly available variety, there are many other runner beans in shades of 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.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Sweet peas 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 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 to 6 weeks before your last frost date and transplant outdoors after all danger of frost. When the plants reach about 3 to 6 inches 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 to 8 ft. tall.