Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals
Amazing Annual Vines (page 4 of 4)
by Veronica Fowler
Annual vines to grow
Twining snapdragon (Asarina). 6-12 feet. Named for its snapdragon-like 1-inch flowers in pink, blue, white, or red. 'Joan Loraine' is a new royal purple version. Full sun.
Love-in-a-puff or balloon vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum). 8-10 feet. Grown for its balloonlike 1- to 2-inch papery seed capsules, which form in midsummer and ripen to brown in fall. Inside are three jet black seeds, each marked with a perfectly shaped white heart. Full sun.
Cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea scandens). 15-25 feet. Its 2-inch flowers, which resemble a fluted cup in a saucerlike calyx, start pale green and turn lilac or purple. 'Alba' is a white variety. Mature flowers exude a faint honey scent. Full sun.
Hyacinth bean or Egyptian bean (Lablab purpureus, formerly Dolichos lablab). 10 feet or more. Striking maroon leaves with deeper reddish maroon veins. Purple or white sweet pea-like flowers followed by beanlike seed pods about 2 inches long. 'Ruby Moon' is a popular variety. A white version is also available. Full sun.
Chilean glory vine or glory flower (Eccremocarpus). 8-12 feet. Narrow 1-inch long tubular flowers, in eye-catching combinations of orange, red, pink, and yellow (depending on the species) with delicate foliage, resemble honeysuckle. Clings with tendrils. Full sun.
Morning glory and relatives (Ipomoea). 10 to 30 feet, depending on variety and growing conditions. Nearly all bloom in the morning, but pure white moonflower (I. alba) opens late in the day. All seeds have tough coats. Before planting, soak seeds overnight in warm water to soften and speed germination. Most reseed prolifically; exceptions are noted. Full sun.
I. imperialis 'Mt. Fuji'. Flowers are crimson, sky blue, violet, and deep purple accented with a white pinwheel and picotee pattern.
Spanish flag or firecracker vine (I. lobata, formerly Mina lobata). 15-20 feet. Mexican native has sprays of flowers usually in scarlet fading to yellow, then white, to give the effect of a sunset. Dark green foliage has unusual fleur-de-lis shape. 'Citronella' has lemon yellow blossoms fading to cream and pure white. Full sun.
Cardinal climber (I. multifida). Similar to scarlet climber (listed below) but with less delicate, more palmlike foliage.
I. nil 'Flying Saucers'. Unusual white cups streaked with sky blue; 'Scarlett O'Hara' has crimson flowers and was an All-America Selections winner in 1939.
I. purpurea 'Grandpa Ott's' and 'Kniola's Purple-black'. Nearly identical-looking heirlooms; deep purple flowers with magenta markings surrounding a creamy white throat.
Scarlet climber or cypress vine (I. quamoclit). Similar to cardinal climber, but with smaller flowers and deeply cut, ferny leaves.
Morning Glory (I. tricolor). Includes 'Heavenly Blue'; 'Sunrise Serenade' has nasturtium-like burgundy petals. Low, bushy varieties, such as 'Early Call' (3 to 6 feet), work well in a flower bed or border.
Sweet pea (Lathyrus odorata). 3 to 6-1/2 feet. Intense spicy scent; one of the best-selling flowers a century ago and still popular today. Many colors available. Unlike most annual vines, likes rich soil and cool, moist conditions. Tolerates some shade, especially in afternoon and in warmer climates. Plant outdoors in spring as soon as soil can be worked, or in peat pots at 55°F to set outdoors in early spring. (In zones 8 and warmer, plant in late fall for winter bloom.) Mulch to keep soil cool. Climbs by tendrils, so needs a mesh, trellis, net, or other closely spaced support. Often dies out in heat, so choose heat-resistant varieties to extend bloom time.
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia). 6-8 feet. Melon grown for Asian cuisine makes a distinctive ornamental. Vanilla-scented, 1-inch, fringed pale yellow blossoms develop into a rich orange, warty-looking, pointed melon that splits in late summer to reveal scarlet seeds. Full sun.
Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata). 4 to 10 feet. White, cream, yellow, or orange vincalike flowers about 2 inches across; arrowhead-shaped leaves. Suzie hybrids are short and bushy enough for hanging baskets; white, orange, or yellow flowers have dark throats. Full sun.
Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus). 15 feet. Edible bean grown mainly as an ornamental for its scarlet flowers (which attract hummingbirds, especially 'Scarlet Bees') and buff- to red-mottled black seedpods. Heart-shaped emerald green leaves are especially attractive. Improved varieties for eating, such as 'Scarlet Emperor', are available. 'Painted Lady' has bicolored coral and cream petals. Full sun.
Purple bell vine (Rhodochiton). 10-15 feet. Purple "flowers" are actually calyxes measuring about 1 inch across; the real flower is inside the calyx. Vine with heart-shaped leaves attaches itself to a support by clasping leaf stems. Thrives in heat and full sun.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum). 5-15 feet. A few nasturtiums truly climb. T. majus 'Fordhook Favorite' is a vigorous climber, as is T. peregrinum, often called canary bird flower because of its feathery bright yellow flowers. If you want other nasturtiums to climb, tie them to a support. T. majus flowers come in yellow, orange, red, copper, salmon, and pink and can be single or double. Varieties with variegated foliage are widely offered. The spicy-tasting flowers and leaves are a favorite addition to salads. Some varieties, such as red 'Empress of India', attract hummingbirds. Prefers poor soil with excellent drainage; doesn't thrive in extreme heat. Aphids love nasturtiums: wash them off regularly with a water spray. Full sun.
Veronica Lorson Fowler is a gardener and writer living in Ames, Iowa.
Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association