When you’re running out of space in your yard, or you need some height to create additional interest, grow up! There are numerous twisting, twining and climbing plants available—both annuals and perennials. Stick some poles in the ground and make a tepee for climbing beans in the veggie garden or plant morning glories to climb the tepee poles and create a playhouse for your kids. Put a potted pink mandevilla at the bottom of a hand rail that leads up your front steps and let it climb; let a lime-green sweet potato vine create a cooling tunnel on the arch over your garden gate entrance. The possibilities are endless for creating striking upright visual vignettes throughout your landscape.
In most gardens, we look down at the flowers or attractive foliage; plant vines and you can have flowers and interesting foliage at eye-level and even overhead. Most vines are easy to care for and can be trained to grow almost anywhere—on trellises, arches, and fences; up trees, poles, lampposts and walls, along old grape vines or horizontal wires—just give them a place to twist and turn and watch them go—grow!
For quick growth for summer enjoyment, choose annuals. Plant them in late spring when all danger of frost is gone. An all-time favorite is morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea). Lovely, lovely blue flowers (also available in pink, red and shades in-between) that open in early morning and hang around until the sun becomes too hot and causes the blossoms to close. But not to worry—they’ll be back the following day. And, on cloudy days, they may hang around all day. Morning glories are pretty much self-sufficient; just give them a little water occasionally. But BEWARE, they re-seed with abandon. So, grow them in pots or away from other bedding plants where you can control their prolific reproduction.
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a relative of the morning glory, and it is just as beautiful and is also a prolific reproducer (roots spread to other areas). With large, dish-like flowers that are perfumed, it makes a good bedfellow for morning glories. The morning glory opens in the morning, and the moonflower opens at night. Both are easily grown from seed. Just follow the directions on the seed packet.
Other fast-growing annual vines include the sweet potato vine, “Margarita.” It’s lime-green foliage trails down and adds contrast to other plants in pots, containers and window boxes. Or, grow it up on trellises, arches and arbors. Mandevilla is a tropical-looking flowering vine that often appears in springtime at garden centers. But don’t plant it outside until all danger of frost has passed. It’s a beautiful plant with glossy green leaves and pink or reddish blooms. It will grow from 8 to 12 feet during summer and is a perennial in zones 9, 10 and 11. There are many other annual vines. The new Wave petunias—although not really a vine, have the spreading effect of a vine and can be trained to grow up.
Time and patience will produce perennial vines that will remain in your garden year in and year out. Some popular choices are red trumpet honeysuckle, Carolina and confederate Jessamine, wisteria, bougainvillea, and, of course, the mainstay, Boston ivy and other ivies. Whatever your choices, vines will be great additions to your yard. So, get planting and then grow up!