Flowering Vines That Will Stop You in Your Tracks
Super fast-growing and super sensational, morning glories will scramble up and over fences, arbors, and trellises with ease. Available in a wide range of colors and bicolors, morning glories are a snap to grow. A sun worshipper, morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea, can grow 8–12 feet tall and thrives in hot weather. These easy-care annual flowers get their name from the fact that the 4- to 6-inch wide blooms close in the late afternoon and don’t reopen until sunrise the next day. Morning glory often self-sows and can become a bit invasive, so remove unwanted seedlings as they appear.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine
This fast-growing annual vine develops scores of bright yellow, orange, or white flowers with dark centers all summer long. You can start a black-eyed Susan vine from seed or buy started plants at your local garden center. Black-eyed Susan requires full sun and a quick drink whenever the soil starts to dry out. This gorgeous vine can grow 4–6 feet tall and is easily pruned to shorter heights if necessary. Occasionally you'll find this plant sold in hanging baskets, but it really performs a lot better in a larger pot or in the ground with a sturdy support. Like other annual vines, black-eyed Susan will die back after the first frost.
Available in a spectacular array of colors and forms (double and single flowers), clematis will quickly shimmy up and over a fence, mailbox, or arbor. What's nice about clematis is that they don't grow out of control, with a refined 6- to 10-foot-long growth habit; there's also dwarf clematis that grow just 3 feet tall and are wonderful for containers. Clematis are easy to grow if you can meet their needs. There's an old saying that clematis like their "heads in the sun and their feet in the shade." This means you should plant them in full sun but apply a thick layer of mulch around them to keep their roots cool and shaded. Some clematis bloom on new wood and others bloom on old wood, so it's best to prune them in the spring after new growth has begun; that way you won't accidentally remove flower buds no matter what type of clematis you have.
Carolina jessamine is an eager bloomer, often flowering as early as January in parts of the South. This warm-weather perennial favorite develops wands of golden yellow, trumpet-shape, fragrant blooms that brighten the garden when few other plants are in flower. It’s a fast grower, too, and will reach heights of 20 feet if left unpruned. Carolina jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, thrives in sun or partial shade and doesn’t mind a bit of salt spray in coastal gardens. Use Carolina jessamine to screen a view or add some much-needed color to a wooded setting. Pruning is necessary, on occasion, to keep Carolina jessamine from encroaching on its neighbors.
Every spring, the rich fragrance of Madagascar jasmine perfumes the air across the Deep South. This handsome evergreen vine has dark green, leathery leaves that are topped with clusters of trumpetlike, sweetly scented white flowers. Madagascar jasmine, Stephanotis floribunda, thrives in partial shade and easily twines up trellises, arbors, and fences. In the North, you can often buy this easy-care vine as a patio plant that doesn't mind spending the winter indoors in a cool location. Madagascar jasmine prefers slightly moist soil but otherwise isn't too demanding.
Hyacinth Bean Vine
You'll be amazed at how quickly this vine reaches for the sun. Hyacinth bean vine, Lablab purpurea, has beautiful green or purple foliage topped with brilliant heads of purplish-pink flowers in the late summer and fall. As a bonus, after the flowers fade, the plants develop large, showy, pea podlike seed heads that dangle from the ends of each branch. A sun-loving annual, hyacinth bean vine provides a quick, colorful canopy over arbors and trellises. Note: Raw hyacinth beans are poisonous unless properly cooked, so it’s best to use this plant as an ornamental.
Be a friend to butterflies by including passion vine in your garden. Butterfly species such as Gulf fritillary and Zebra longwing use this amazing plant as both a host and food plant, while other species feed off the nectar-rich flowers. Passion vine is a joy for gardeners, too. The fast-growing vines develop eye-popping white flowers with a purple crown and yellow center. Passion vine loves hot weather and thrives in sun or partial shade. These beauties can grow 6–8 feet tall, so they're ideal for large pots and planters. Just be sure to provide some type of support for the plants to scramble over. Perennial in nature, passion vine is best treated as an annual in the far north.
Blue Sky Vine
Blue sky vine, Thunbergia grandiflora, is a flashy cousin to the black-eyed Susan vine, producing multitudes of big, sky-blue, cuplike flowers with golden throats. Also called Bengal clock vine, blue sky vine can grow 20 feet long in one season and is super easy to care for. It thrives in sun or light shade and slightly moist soil. It’s a perennial vine in mild climates but can be brought indoors as a houseplant during the winter in the far North.
A vigorous, tough-as-nails perennial, trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, is perfect for gardeners who want a quick cover-up for a fence, trellis, or pergola. Trumpet vine develops attractive, finely divided foliage covered by broad hands of fingerlike orange, red, or yellow flowers in midsummer. Over time, this woody vine can grow 40 feet tall and become quite heavy, so be sure you grow it on a sturdy support that won’t topple under the weight of the vine.
As fragrant as it is colorful, wisteria makes an excellent choice for large arbors, pergolas, or porches. This classic beauty can also be trained into a tree form where its bumper crop of pendulous, early spring white, purple, or lilac flowers can be enjoyed easily. The key to success with wisteria is to plant the right one. Newer, more cold-hardy varieties are now available that will reliably bloom as far north as Zone 5. Like trumpet vine, wisteria is a heavy, woody vine that needs supersize supports to keep the vine from toppling; plants can grow 30 feet tall. Avoid fertilizing the vines to ensure flowering and prevent them from growing out of control.
Like its close cousin the morning glory, cypress vine, Ipomoea quamoclit, is a fast-growing annual vine that makes a wonderful addition to the summer garden. Growing 4–8 feet long, cypress vine is prized for its ferny, light green foliage and proliferation of scarlet, trumpetlike flowers. This easy vine is occasionally called hummingbird vine for the simple reason that hummingbirds flock to the bright red, nectar-rich blooms. Cypress vine prefers full sun and will often self-sow, so remove excess seedlings if they appear. The plants will die back after the first frost.
Add a touch of the tropics to your porch or patio with mandevilla vine. This absolutely gorgeous vine comes in single and double white, red, pink, and red-and-white flowers. Mandevilla thrives in hot weather and makes a top-rate container plant, growing 6–8 feet tall on a low trellis or pyramid. Mandevilla is easy to care for, only requiring a sunny spot and water whenever the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch. Use it to brighten your porch, patio, deck, or balcony.
The long, tubular flowers of honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sp., might look tropical in nature, but, in fact, this quick perennial climber loves life in a northern climate. Available in a variety of different species, honeysuckle vines all have several things in common: sweet fragrance, nectar-rich blooms that attract hummingbirds, and easy care. Honeysuckle vine prefers a sunny spot in the garden where it can clamber up a sturdy post, fence, or trellis. Flower colors include yellow, white, orange, and red. Most grow 12–14 feet tall.
These sun-loving annuals have big, easy-to-handle seeds that children can easily poke into the ground. Tiny little seedlings turn into showy plants with eye-catching round leaves and funnel-shape yellow, orange, peach, or red edible blooms (they taste peppery!). Climbing nasturtiums, Tropaeolum majus, grow 4–6 feet tall and will quickly cling to a low fence or trellis. You might have to help them get started by tying them up with string, but eventually you'll be rewarded with a wall of jewel-tone flowers. Climbing nasturtiums aren't fussy about soil type, and will bloom nonstop right up until first frost.
The acrobats of the rose world, climbing varieties develop long canes well adapted to training on pillars, fences, arbors, and gazebos. Most climbing roses are mutations or variations of bush-type varieties. Climbers may bloom once a season or continually, depending on the variety. Regular deadheading of the flowers can help to encourage continuous blooms on your climbing roses. If you decide to prune your plants in winter before the initial bloom, you can increase the amount of blooms you get later on.