February 20, 2006
Posted online April 12, 2006
Annual vines popular among
By Bob Sampson,
Vines 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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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,
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.