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February 20, 2006
Posted online April 12, 2006

Annual vines popular among gardeners

By Bob Sampson,

Morning GloriesVines are becoming very popular among gardeners because they add a vertical accent to the garden and can make even small gardens more interesting, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

"Gardeners get so involved thinking about perennial vines that they often forget that there are many annual vines," said Sharon Yiesla. "Annual vines not only give us that vertical accent, they have the added benefit of allowing us to change our landscape every summer since they are not permanent."

While perennial vines climb by different methods, most annuals climb either by twining or through the use of tendrils. Vines with tendrils can climb by wrapping their small tendrils around the support.

"This makes them useful on open structures like arbors and open fences," Yiesla said. "If the vine is an aggressive grower, it can be a problem because it can grab on where it's not wanted. These plants will need some training to keep them on the intended structure."

Twining vines climb by winding their stems around the support. They also do well on open structures.

"Like vines with tendrils, these twining vines can go where they are not wanted," she noted. "They will also need some training. Fast-growing twining vines may engulf smaller plants quickly if not monitored carefully."

Yiesla said that most annual vines are easy to grow from seed and are seldom sold as plants at the garden center. She reviewed a few common annual vines that might be useful in the garden.

Purple Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab or Lablab purpureus) has fragrant, purple, pea-type flowers in early summer. These are followed by bright purple (magenta) bean pods. The leaves may also have a slight purplish cast to them. This vine needs full sun and good soil moisture.

Moon Vine (Ipomoea alba) has large (5 to 6 inches), fragrant, white flowers in late summer. These flowers open in the evening and last through the night. The vine has large, heart-shaped foliage and needs full sun and well-drained soil. Seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting.

Common Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) has large funnel-like flowers in shades of red, white, or blue. The flowers open in the morning. Morning Glory prefers full sun and grows best in moist soils but is also fairly drought-tolerant. Seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting.

Cardinal Vine (Ipomoea x multifida) has small, red, tubular flowers with white throats in summer. The leaves are deeply dissected, adding interest to the vine. Cardinal vine needs full sun and will grow in moist to dry soils. Seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting.

Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) has small, red, tubular flowers, summer into autumn.

"The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies," Yiesla said. "The interesting foliage is deeply dissected--finer than Cardinal Vine. This plant likes full sun to partial shade and moist to dry soils. Seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting."

Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor) has funnel-like flowers in shades of purple, blue, and white. Flowers open in the morning. This plant may self-seed and become weedy. "Heavenly Blue" is the most well-known cultivar. Give the plant full sun and moist to dry soil. Seeds are hard and need to be nicked and soaked overnight before planting.

Annual Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus) has fragrant, pea-type flowers in shades of blue, pink, white, red, or purple. It flowers best when temperatures are cooler. Annual Sweet Pea can tolerate full sun to partial shade. It needs moist, well-drained soil.

Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus) has red, pea-type flowers in summer. After the flowers finish, pods are formed. The pods contain black seeds marked with red. The pods are edible. The vines like full sun to partial shade and a rich, moist, well-drained soil.

© 2005 The Cairo Gate