by Jackie Carroll
For the cost of a packet of seeds, you can quickly create a show stopping garden accent or a living hideaway for children, hide a rusty chain link fence or an unsightly garage wall, and turn an ordinary balcony into a private garden. Started from seeds, annual vines will scramble to heights of 20 feet or more, highlighting features you want to show off and covering eyesores.
Here are just a few of the many uses for annual vines:
- Add a little magic to your garden by planting a trellis or pole with brightly colored morning glories and moonflowers. You'll have a burst of brightly colored flowers during the day, and luminescent white blossoms at night.
- Add shade and privacy to your balcony with annual vines. Because their root systems are limited, they can be grown in large planters on a trellis, or allowed to trail from window boxes and big hanging baskets. The vertical growing habit will make a small area seem larger.
- Annual vines are ideal for introducing your children to the magic of gardening. Build a teepee of bamboo or fallen tree branches, and plant with scarlet runner beans or tall nasturtiums. Your children will enjoy their colorful (and edible) hideaway while learning about the wonders of nature.
- Plant climbing vines along chain link fences and light poles to soften the look of your landscape.
- Annual vines will quickly blanket a problem slope or other area that is difficult to mow with colorful flowers. If your slope is difficult to plant, use a vine that will reseed itself such as morning glories or cardinal climbers.
- Plant vines along a southern wall to keep the house cooler in summer.
Annual vines are easy to grow. They like a sunny location with good quality, well drained soil. Plant your seeds according to the package directions, and keep them evenly moist until they germinate. After germination, you'll only need to water when the weather has been extremely hot or dry. Use fertilizers sparingly. An abundance of nitrogen will encourage your vines to produce an abundance of dark green foliage and few flowers.
Have your trellises or other support in place when you plant your seeds. If you can't plant right next to the support, insert twigs into the soil next to the seeds to lead the vines to their intended support. If the vine can't find its support right away, it will waste time searching and reaching for something to grab on to.
Recommended Annual Vines Click the name of the vine for more information about the seeds.
Black Eyed Susan Vine
Unlike many climbing vines, this one isn't invasive so it can be incorporated into existing gardens without fear of crowding out existing plants. It's a great choice for hanging baskets and window boxes.
Height: 5' to 10' trailing vine
Cardinal Climber Vine
The deep red flowers with white or yellow throats are sure to draw attention to your trellises, fences and poles.
Height: 6' to 20' vine
This vine can add a tropical texture to your landscape with its interesting foliage and mix of bright red, pink and white flowers. With the right conditions, it grows to 20 feet.
Height: 8' to 10' vine
Hyacinth Bean Vine
This striking vine will have your visitors asking if it's real! The flowers are followed by velvety purple bean pods.
Height: 6' - 20' vine
'Firecracker Vine' or 'Exotic Love,' this unusual, exciting, interesting annual vine has up to 12 beautiful 2" tubular flowers on each spike. Performs well on trellises and in hanging baskets.
Height: 6' to 10'
Plant this fast-growing vine on a porch, near an entrance, or under a window where you can enjoy the evening performance and heady fragrance. The flowers bloom only at night, and unfold in 2-3 minutes, and event worth waiting for!
Height: 10' to 20' vine
In the summer, flowers open in the morning, and in the fall they stay open all day. Morning glories are grown as a groundcover in difficult areas.
Height: 8' - 10' vine
Sweet peas are shorter than most of the other annual vines mentioned here, but their outstanding fragrance make them worthwhile when height isn't important. They make a wonderful cut flower.
Height: 3' to 5' vine