The Best Annual Flowering Vines

Plants & Flowers
Annual Flowering Vines

Annual flowering vines are a great addition to your garden. They are ideal for those who wish to have some flowers and colors in their gardens almost all year long. Vines flower from mid-summer till the first frosts, so they provide plenty of colors. However, these lovely flowering vines are often overlooked by many plant growers.

It's important to understand there is a difference between annual vines and perennial vines. Generally speaking, perennials need some time to get established and to flower well, which is rarely a problem for annual vines. Annual vines are very easy to start from seeds.

Annual flowering vines are rarely found in garden centers because they quickly become a tangled mess as they grow. However, they are easy to start and grow indoors or out. The best thing is that they require very little maintenance. All you need is a packet of seeds and with a little care you will have vining flowers that will grow around structures. Alternatively, you can easily cascade them down from hanging baskets.

The Most Popular Annual Flowering Vines

There are many beautiful annual flowering vines to choose from. Here is a list of top 10 popular choices:

  • Black Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)
  • Canary Creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)
  • Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)
  • Climbing Snapdragon (Asarina)
  • Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)
  • Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
  • Ornamental Gourds
  • Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus)
  • Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)

This is a short annual vine. This plant has small (about 1 1/2 inches in size) orange and yellow flowers with a dark center. They resemble black-eyed Susans. These plants are often sold in hanging baskets. They can easily be grown in a container. However, it's important to choose a larger container to encourage the plant's growth. Whenever possible, though, it's best to grow it in the ground. This vine can grow to about 6-8 feet in height.

Canary Creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum)

This is a late season bloomer. A Canary Creeper starts in July and it goes through October. This is a plant from nasturtium family. It has one inch long yellow flowers that truly resemble Canary birds. This plant also has beautiful, attractive foliage with deeply divided, palm-shaped leaves. It grows vigorously but it doesn't grab hold of anything. It can grow about 8 to 12 feet in height. It looks best when simply scrambling through other plants.

Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri)

This plant is great for attracting hummingbirds to your garden. This plant has lovely, trumpet-shaped flowers full of nectar. The flowers are brilliant red in color and the leaves are feathery and light. They filter the view which allows you to look through the vine but also to have privacy. This plant flowers heavily but may also self-sow aggressively. It's also good to know that Arizona has banned their sale as an invasive. However, many plant growers like them because of their free growing nature. This plant can grow between 6 and 12 feet in height. Warning: its seeds are poisonous if ingested!

Climbing Snapdragon (Asarina)

Climbing Snapdragon has flowers very similar to a snapdragon. This is a free-flowering twiner and it can be easily grown in containers. The plant often spills over walls and the vines will often twine around strings and trellises. It can easily be cut back in case the flowers drop off. It's also interesting that Climbing snapdragon can easily be grown as a house plant. Its flowers come in bright colors: red, pink, lavender and blue with white chins. This plant can grow 6 to 8 feet in height.

Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)

This plant has interesting and unique looking flowers. Its flowers are also sweetly scented and shaped as a cup. They are lavender and white in color. The flowers are surrounded by a saucer or collar of green calyx. This plant attaches itself to supports gently, with tendrils. This vine can take a while to start blooming. Therefore, it's best to start them early, preferably indoors. One tip: the flat seeds germinate better when planted on their edge. This will make them less prone to rot. This vine can grow 20 and more feet in height.

Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)

This is a well-known vine many people remember from childhood. This plant is very easy to grow. It will twin around anything you put on its path. The plant is called morning glory for a reason: its flowers close in the afternoon heat. This plant is also known as the Back to School Vine, because it sometimes grows at the end of the summer. This vine doesn't require much care and it can self-seed readily. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors. The vine can grow between 10 and 12 feet in height.

Ornamental Gourds

Ornamental gourds are grown for their seed pods - the gourds, and not for their flowers. There are many different gourds that grow quickly and easily in just a few months. Some people like to sprawl the vines on the ground, like squash. However, if you want to grow this plant for decoration, it's best to give them a structure to grow up. This way, the plant will remain cleaner and less prone to pests. A pergola or arbor can look very beautiful with vines growing across it and the gourds dangling down. It's also good to know that gourds are typically easy to dry and they can be used for crafts (for example, to make birdhouses) or decorations.

Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus)

This plant has interesting, heart-shaped leaves with purple veining on the under-sides and the stems have a deep-purple cast. The flowers are lavender in color and the pods are almost purple. This plant was used as an important food source in the past. Today, however, it's grown mainly as a decoration. The vines are quick to grow and the plant flowers early. As the pods begin to form flowering tapers off. However, even then the plant remains attractive and it continues to spiral upward. This plant can grow about 6 to 15 feet in height.

Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

This vine, like hyacinth beans, are usually grown for their gorgeous ornamental flowers. In addition to this, Scarlet Runner is a great eating bean if you harvest it when it's young. However, since there are many tastier beans on the market and this plant has such beautiful flowers, it's not surprising that this vine is known as a flowering plant. This plant's vines can get long and heavy very quickly. Therefore, it's important to provide them with a good support to grow on. If you like Scarlet Runner you should know there are other runner beans you may choose, in many different shades: pink, red, white or a combination of colors. For example, "Painted Lady" is a soft red and white flower. Its vines are strong and tolerant to heat more than most of the other runner beans. "Moonlight" has pure white flowers that give tasty, stringless runner bean pods.

Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

Sweet Pea is another popular vine you might want to try for your garden. This plant looks fragile, but in reality it's a very tough vine. This plant prefers colder temperatures so it grows best during Spring and Fall months. Its flowers are famous for their sweet and slightly heavy fragrance. However, it's important to keep in mind that not all of the newest cultivars are scented, so it depends on the exact plant. Always make sure to read the seed packet before you make a purchase. Another great thing about Sweet peas is that they make excellent cut flowers. The more you cut, the more the plant will bloom - this is a useful thing to remember. Sweet peas can easily be grown in a vegetable garden along pole beans. Sweet peas can add so much color and fragrance to any garden. In addition to this, they may also entice more bees and other pollinating insects, so they are also very useful. This vine can grow between 4 and 6 feet in height.

Photo credit: David Seibold

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