In many gardening zones, growers have a variety of flowering vines to choose from. Initially, your decision may be based upon flower color, the vine's ability to attract hummingbirds or butterflies or how fast it will shade your porch. An awareness of the flowering and reseeding habits of flowering vines will help you determine whether you want an annual or perennial, and which flowering vines will tolerate winter in your area.
Annual Flowering Vines
Annual vines provide quick shade, reaching their full size in one season, making them ideal for hanging planters or for use with decorative trellises. They don't generally cling hard to walls, so a trellis or wire is often the best support. Moonflowers and cup-and-saucer vines can grow up to 20 feet in one season. Other vines to try are hops, hyacinth bean, morning glory and sweet potato. For long-term, quick coverage, plant annual flowering vines while you wait for your perennial or biennial vines to mature.
A general rule of thumb for vines is the roots be shaded and sunshine be available for the tops. Moonflowers and morning glories are an exception; they both tolerate full sun, although morning glories grow fuller when they have afternoon shade. Annual vines like well-drained, nutrient-rich soil, with the exception of moonflowers, which can thrive in very dry soil with little nutrients. Most varieties are best planted in the ground, after danger of frost. if you have a short growing season, look for hybrids or other varieties that tolerate an earlier start or an indoor start.
Perennial Flowering Vines
A perennial flowering vine will continue to grow each season, increasing in size and flowering every year. They often cling well to fences and trellises. Sweet peas (ornamental, not edible) are perennial vines with a wide range of color options, from white flowers, to blues and purples and deep bright reds. Scarlet runner is a perennial vine, although in some conditions it can be an annual. Clematis, wisteria and jasmine also are popular.
Jasmine, clematis and wisteria initially thrive with a light, loamy soil that's rich in nutrients. Like the annual vines, the roots of these should be shaded. Depending upon which growing zone you live in, you may need to protect the base for the first few winters. One easy way to do this is to place three or four black lawn bags with fall leaf clippings on top of the root base. The heat generated by the decomposing leaves provides warmth for the root base. When the danger of hard frost has passed, cut open the bags to let the rotten leaves nourish the soil and protect tender new shoots. Scarlet runner and sweet pea tolerate full sun.
Cold-Hardy Flowering Vines
In the United States, many growers need to be cautious with vines. Tropical vines can't tolerate cold temperatures that much of the country experiences in the winter. If you live in an area that has cold winters, avoid jasmine and some varieties of honeysuckle, focusing instead on hardy false bittersweet or partridge berry, both of which display showy pods in the winter. Japanese clematis can survive a winter if pruned to 12 inches from the ground before the ground freezes. As the base of the plant grows (often called the trunk) just prune to the trunk.