Q. I have a tuteur (pyramidal or tepee-shaped plant trellis; support, stake). Which vines are easy to grow on it?
Many perennial vines are easy to grow and will provide a beautiful display of flowers year to year. However, for a quick and easy show you should consider fast-growing annuals (which may be perennials in warmer climates). They can easily be grown from seeds either started in-doors in late spring or planted directly out-doors once the danger of frost has passed. Here are a few suggestions for annual vines:
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata). This profusely growing plant has bright yellow flowers with a dark brown or black center (hence the name). It will grow in part shade but a sunny spot with at least a half day of sun is better. Expect it to grow three to eight feet in a season.
Hyacinth vine (Phaseolus lablab). This old fashioned vine (related to runner beans) is fast growing and produces showy purple flowers in mid-summer. Its attractive seed pods are also purple in color. This vine is very vigorous and can grow to 15 feet tall. Plants can be wintered over if the roots are protected from frost with a heavy mulch.
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor). This is a very popular vine with beautiful purple, trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers open in the morning (hence the name) and fade in the afternoon. New flowers will appear the following day. This plant will flower from mid-summer to first frost. They prefer a sunny location. Avoid soggy, heavy soils. Many cultivated varieties are available. Flower colors range from white, blue, pink, and red to magenta. Another Ipomoea species is I. alba (moonflower). This beautiful plant produces white, scented flowers which open only at night. It is often grown together with morning glory to provide a continuous display.
Cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens). This is a very vigorous tropical vine that can grow to 10 or 20 feet in a season. It carries interesting bell-shaped purple flowers in late summer. It requires a sturdy support.
Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). This is another old-fashioned vine, popular In English gardens, California happily in akaline soils. Choose a sunny outdoor location with rich soil. They grow rapidly from seeds to a height of about 6 feet. The flowers are showy and highly fragrant. The species has purple flowers but cultivated varieties in a wide spectrum of colors are available. Many of these are fragrant but older varieties tend to have a stronger scent.
Passion flower (Passiflora spp.). There are numerous species of Passiflora, almost all of them tropical. They can, however, be grown as annuals in any garden. Passion flowers species and varieties produce exotic flowers in shades of purple, blue, red and white. Pick one that appeals to you from any reputable nursery. Blue passion flower (P. caerulea) is one of the hardiest passion flowers and may winter over in Zone 6 if heavily mulched in the fall.
Purple bell vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineum). This plant has unusual double bell-shaped flowers. It grows to a maximum of 10 ft. so is ideal for a smaller garden. This beautiful plant is a little hard to find in nurseries but seeds can be ordered from mail-order companies.
A useful booklet on vines and how to grow them is: Flowering Vines. Beautiful Climbers. Karan Davies (Editor). Brooklyn Botanic Garden Inc. (1999).
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service