Annual Climbing Vines: Using Fast Growing Vines In The Landscape

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By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

If you’re short on room to garden, take advantage of vertical spaces by growing annual vines. You can even find drought tolerant vines and annual vines for shade. Many flower prolifically and some are fragrant. Fast growing vines with showy flowers can also hide a problem area in your landscape and quickly provide privacy when properly located.

Growing Annual Climbing Vines

A range of annual climbing vines are available to grow on a trellis, an unsightly wall or the fence that you share with neighbors. Annual climbing vines can also grow in containers or in the ground. Fast growing vines need little encouragement to climb, but may need training to grow in the right direction. Annual vines usually climb through the use of tendrils or twining.

When growing annual vines, an inexpensive way of getting plant material is to start them from seed. Fast growing vines can also be started from cuttings, which normally root easily and grow rapidly. While you may not find the plants at your local garden center, sources for seeds of fast growing annual vines are readily available on the web. If a friend or neighbor has an established annual vine, ask for cuttings or the seeds, which usually produce in abundance.

Fast Growing Vines

There are numerous types of annual vines you can grow in the landscape each year. A few examples of fast growing annual vines include:

  • Hyacinth bean vine
  • Moonflower
  • Black eyed Susan vine
  • Mandevilla
  • Scarlet runner bean
  • Cypress vine
  • Morning glory

Most of these vines grow well in a variety of soils and full sun to part shade conditions.

Annual Vines for Shade

Annual vines for shade include ornamental sweet potato vine, a rapid grower that comes in green or purple. Try a combination of the two colors to decorate a large shady area.

Other annual vines to try for shady sites include:

  • Canary vine – will tolerate partial shade
  • Black eyed susan vine – can handle part shade
  • Grass pea – can be planted in part shade
  • Cypress vine – tolerates some shade

Drought Tolerant Annual Vines

Of the more common drought tolerant annual vines found growing in the landscape, the two most popular include climbing nasturtium and its cousin, canary creeper.

Once established, most annual climbers need little care, although they benefit from pruning to keep them in bounds. Experiment with inexpensive, annual climbing vines in your landscape and you will have found a solution to many of your gardening dilemmas.

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Read more about Ornamental Vines General Care

How to Grow Morning Glory

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Morning glories are often the first flowering vines gardeners become familiar with. They are fast-growing annual vines that are actually in the same botanical family as sweet potatoes (though they don't produce edible tubers). The brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers have a slight fragrance and are popular with butterflies and hummingbirds. The buds are twirled up tightly and unfold when the sun hits them in the morning, giving them their unique name.

Native to Mexico and Central America, morning glory vines grow by clinging to nearby supports with tendrils, rapidly growing up to 12 feet or more a season. They can be planted by seed about a month before the last spring frost, and self-sow effusively, making it very likely they'll come back the following year. Though some gardeners find them too aggressive, unwanted seedlings can usually be pulled out easily.

Botanical Name Ipomoea purpurea
Common Name Morning glory
Plant Type Annual
Mature Size 6–10 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Moist but well-draining
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Purple, pink, blue, white
Hardiness Zones 2–11 (USDA)
Native Area Mexico, Central America
Toxicity Toxic to animals and humans

Historically, trellises have always been used as some form of support for the masses of grapevines grown as both table grapes and wine. Left alone, grapevines will climb tree tops, looking for sunlight. For just a few grapevines, an arbor is the best option. For several grapevines, it is easiest and most space efficient to build trellis systems. Training them on the right kind of trellis helps grape vines grow and develop to their best advantage. Various types include:

  • Lyre trellises
  • Vertical trellises
  • Geneva double curtain trellises
  • Four-arm Kniffin trellises (good for beginners)
  • Single-curtain cordon trellises

Grow These Annuals to Attract Pollinators

These annuals are easy to grow, look great in any garden, are easily found, and loved by pollinators of all kinds. Bees, birds, bugs, and butterflies all benefit from the list below. These beautiful flowers serve as host plants and/or as food for the pollinators.

Cleome- these tall annuals with a unique flower is a favored plant of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, Cleome provides nectar to many pollinators, as well as being a host plant to the Checkered White, Cabbage White and Great Southern White butterflies. They look beautiful as a border plant and when planted in mass.

Cosmos- Cosmos are found in nearly every cottage garden, for good reason. They grow easily in nearly every soil condition, they self-sow, they mix well with other plants and look good with everything, they make good cut flowers, they attract pollinators, and they handle neglect just fine. What's not to love? If you keep them deadheaded, the flowers will continue throughout the summer until frost.

Heliotrope- Dense clusters of flowers in shades of purple, blue and white, heliotrope is a fragrant annual that grows well in the ground or in containers. The purple varieties are more popular, and the white varieties are the most fragrant. This tropical was once a staple in cottage gardens, this sweetly scented flower is making a comeback. You will enjoy the fragrance and the delicate flowers just as much as watching the pollinators enjoy the nectar.

Nasturtium- Nasturtiums are sure to brighten up any corner of the garden. They thrive in poor soil, and the flowers are just as edible to humans as they are to pollinators. These cheerful plants bloom early in the season, giving our friend pollinators something to feast on early in the season. For those of us in the south, nasturtiums will wither away when the weather heats up, but it is easy to collect seeds for next year.

Nicotiana- the delicate trumpet-like flowers of nicotiana are just as fragrant as they are delicate. Bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators will seek out these plants, and the humans will enjoy smelling the sweet scent as well. Nicotiana is not difficult to grow from seed, and is very quick growing. The heirloom varieties that most people think of when they think of Flowering Tobacco Plants are tall and must be started from seed, although there are newer varieties available which are more compact in size and can sometimes be found at garden centers.

Salvia- found in both our annual and perennial categories of pollinator-loving plants, salvias are loved by most pollinators. The annual varieties will happily reseed, but aren't difficult to control. Annual salvias look great when planted in groupings. The pollinators also enjoy their pollen and nectar sources to be grouped together so the plants are easily visible and accessible. Watch hummingbirds and bees zoom in to your patch of salvias.

Scabiosa, or pincushion flowers, are available both as annual and perennial varieties. Bees as well as butterflies are attracted to the flowers for their pollen and nectar. An easy flower to grow, sow your seeds in the early spring after danger of frost has passed. The plants will grow tall, often as tall as 36 inches, which will give you a great view of the pollinators enjoying this charming flower.

Five-Leaf Akebia

Though the five-leaf akebia has pretty flowers and fruit, it will overtake your garden if you are not careful, especially since you should plant more than one if you are trying to ensure pollination.

The chocolate-purple flowers are sweetly scented and intriguing. The five leaf akebia does produce edible fruit. These plants are monoecious. It can be difficult for fruiting to occur naturally, so you can help it along by hand pollination. A paintbrush can be used to spread the pollen on the stigma.


Photo by: Paul S Drobot / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’
This is Cook’s pick for best red-flowering honeysuckle, which she lauds for its blue-green leaves that contrast beautifully with vivid red trumpets arranged in layers of six-flowered pinwheels. The flowers -- which are abundant from spring through midsummer -- are not very fragrant, but hummingbirds are still drawn to their nectar-rich receptacles.

Height: 10 to 20 feet

Photo by: Denise E / Shutterstock.

Lonicera sempervirens 'Blanche Sandman'
This repeat bloomer begins showing off its spectacular orange-red flowers in May and keeps on going throughout the season. The flowers open to reveal yellow-orange throats, creating a luscious palette of tropical colors.

Height: 10 to 15 feet

Photo by: Tpt / Shutterstock.

Lonicera sempervirens ‘Dropmore Scarlet’
A lovely hybrid especially hardy in colder climates (down to Zone 3), producing scarlet-red blooms from June until the first frost. The most distinctive features are the leaves, which join around the stem to form lily-pad shaped disks where the flowers emerge.

Height: 10 to 20 feet

Photo by: Ralph Heiden / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera sempervirens f. sulphurea ‘John Clayton’
This magnificent yellow-flowered cultivar continues to flower from June through November, creating a striking contrast with the deep blue-green foliage. In warmer climates, the leaves remain evergreen in cooler growing zones, winter interest is provided by an abundance of orange-red berries.

Height: 6 to 12 feet

Photo by: Eric Hunt / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’
This knock-your-socks-off bloomer is included in Garden Design’s list of Flowering Vines that Go Beyond the Norm. It’s covered in dazzling ruby-red flowers all summer long and well into fall. It blooms on the previous year's growth as well as new growth, so it can be pruned right after flowering to encourage repeat blooming.

Height: 6 to 10 feet

Photo by Peter Turner Photography / Shutterstock.

Lonicera xbrownii ‘Mandarin’
Sun-kissed flowers the color of mandarin oranges look dazzling against a backdrop of foliage that emerges coppery bronze in spring and turns dark green later in the season. Blooms continually from late spring through fall.

Height: 15 to 20 feet

Photo by: Rock Giguère / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Peaches and Cream’
True to its name, this exceptionally fragrant honeysuckle has dark pink-and-white flowers that turn the color of a ripe peach at maturity. It also tolerates heat, drought, and humidity. The tidy, compact growth habit won’t overwhelm smaller gardens.

Height: 5 to 10 feet

Photo by: Paul S Drobot / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Scentsation’
The sweet, heady fragrance of this super-scented cultivar will fill your garden all summer long, emanating from cheery lemon-yellow flowers that bloom from midspring to late summer, followed by scarlet red berries.

Height: 10 to 12 feet

Photo by: Jennifer Martin-Atkins / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera periclymenum Sweet Tea
Small enough to grow in containers on a patio or balcony, this dwarf cultivar still produces masses of large, fragrant flowers in a vivacious mix of bright pink, creamy yellow, and white. In addition to being drought and heat tolerant, it remains evergreen in frost-free growing zones.

Height: 5 to 6 feet

Photo by: Sandy Pruden / Millette Photomedia.

Lonicera periclymenum 'Winchester'
One of the most richly colored honeysuckles, displaying lavish deep-pink flowers with creamy ivory interiors that turn tones of sunset gold as they fade. Dark wine-red berries follow in the fall. Blooms from May through October.

Watch the video: Tour of Morning Glory Vines Growing All Over My House

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