Great Annual Vines to Grow

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


annual vines

Annual flowering vines offer an easy and cost effective way to add some “verticality” to your garden.   

Whether you train them to grow on structures in the landscape or in containers, annual vines add instant color and height to your garden. I first heard the term verticality years ago when I visited gardener and writer Jane Fishman in Savannah, Georgia. She was challenged to create a garden in a large open field and quickly figured out that she could add instant height by using objects that also served as supports for various vines. 

There are many options for structures to grow your vines on, including fences, arbors, bamboo stakes and even other plants. I have grown the moon vine, Ipomoea alba, large white flowers that fill the air with their intoxicating scent, in combination with ‘New Dawn’ rose. While I like the duo, I suggest giving the moon vine its own support, making it easier to maintain and clean up at the end of the season.  


Senecio Confusus


On a visit to Chanticleer, a public garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, a few years ago,  I loved the way the brilliant orange flowered Mexican flame vine, Senecio confusus, was encouraged to mix it up (ramble and scramble over) with a large blue-green Agave.  


Agave and Senecio vine


 Fast growing, tough and drought tolerant, Mexican flame vine is ideal for instant color and quick cover. 


Mandevilla Parasol White


Sometimes space, or rather lack of space, limits what we can add to our gardens. In this case, container gardens are easily transformed with the addition of vines. A simple support made of bamboo stakes is ideal for training a number of different vines, including Mandevilla or Black-Eyed Susan vine, also known as Thunbergia alata. If you combine the climbers with other annuals that are bushy and or trailing, the result is lush pots and months of color.   


Thunberia and Vinca


This year I am planning to add a Cardinal climber, Ipomoeaxmultifida, to my garden. I love the bright red flowers and the promise of the hummingbirds that it may attract. I feel compelled to mention that the seeds are reported to be highly toxic if ingested. (So keep them away from children and pets!)


Ipomea Multifida


At the Trial Gardens at the University of Georgia, I was introduced to a tropical beauty, Solanum wendlandii, also known as the potato vine, paradise vine and for reasons not known to me, the divorce vine. I admit to being curious about how it came to have these common names but am more interested in the abundance of flowers it produces, which bloom at a stunning deep blue and eventually fade to lavender. 


Solanum Wendlandii Vine


Some of my other favorite annual vines include the purple hyacinth bean, Dolichos lablab, (what a fun botanical name to say!) with purple flowers, autumn purple pods and a fascinating affiliation with Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. Both the seeds and decorative pods are poisonous, but only if eaten in large amounts. (So don’t try to eat them!)


Dolichos Lablab


If you are looking for an annual vine that is edible and ornamental, try scarlet runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus.While the seeds are easy to germinate, the bunnies are quick to eat mine before the plants have a chance to become established. Still, I may try again this year, just for the challenge.