What plant comes to mind when you hear the word vine? Some of you may think about the Clematis and others may think about grapes which are becoming increasingly popular. Both of these vines are great choices and they are also perennials which means their beauty can be appreciated for years but if you’ve got an empty trellis, fence or other support you should think about giving an annual vine a try. While it takes time to get perennial vines to grow to maturity annual vines must do all of their growing in one season and therefore they grow quickly and give you much more “instant gratification”!

An additional benefit of an annual vine is that they are very easy to start from seed which makes them inexpensive to grow. These are several of the more well-known annual vines:

  • Morning Glory - Perhaps the best known annual vine and the flowers literally do open in the morning and close before mid-day. My personal favorite is a variety called Scarlett O’Hara which has a big red bloom.
  • Blue Hyacinth and Scarlet Runner Vine - These vines are in the bean family and they produce both flowers and after they finish blooming colorful pods which provide additional visual interest. The Blue Hyacinth Vine also has foliage that is a deep purple color that really stands out in your garden.
  • Thunbergia - Also known as the Black-Eyed Susan Vine. The flowers have a dark center and come in shades of yellow, white and orange.

These and other annual vines can be grown virtually anywhere in the United States. They generally must be planted after all danger of frost is past so if you live in Gardens zones 3 through 5 it may be beneficial to start them indoors about 6 weeks prior to your last frost date or plan to purchase plants. Most annual vines also prefer being planted in full sun and will start flowering in mid-summer when many perennial vines have finished blooming. They will then continue to bloom until the first frost in the fall. Another benefit to growing an annual vine is that most are not very fussy about the soil they are planted in and they don’t require fertilizers which can cause the vine to produce more leaves than flowers.

It is important to do a little research on the vine you are interested in before you decide to plant it. Annual vines can grow anywhere from 4 feet to 20 feet in a season and need to have the proper support to support this amount of growth. Additionally, this support needs to be easy for the vine to twist around. If you are trying to train a vine on a picket fence or a deck you may need to hang some plastic mesh for the vine to attach to. Finally, if you find a vine that you particularly enjoy it may be possible to harvest the seed in the fall and you then have your seed for next season. I have done this successfully with all of the vines that have been discussed in this article so why not try an annual vine in your garden this year!

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