Colorful Climbers

Want vertical interest in your garden? All it takes is a simple trellis and a beautiful vine. Try one of these for easy-growing good looks.

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Photo By: Tower Hill Botanic Garden at TowerHillBg.org

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Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

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Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

‘Empress Eugenie’ Passion Flower

Give your yard a touch of the tropics with exotic passion flower vine. ‘Empress Eugenie’ opens exquisite blooms that release a beautiful fragrance. Blossoms have subtle colors, so it’s best to place this vine where you can view the flowers up close and personal. Vines can reach 20 to 30 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide in warmer regions. Grow it in a container in cold-winter regions, and overwinter in a cool spot where roots won’t freeze. Water sparingly through winter, just enough to keep roots alive. New growth should emerge in spring. Hardy in Zones 7-10. Why we love it: Passion flower is a host plant to several butterflies, including zebra longwings, gulf fritillary and monarchs.

Lemon A-Peel Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) takes on a new hue with Lemon A-Peel. The flowers on this variety unfurl in a clear lemon yellow hue like living sunshine. Easy-growing black-eyed susan vine covers a trellis with non-stop blooms all summer long. It adapts well to growing in pots on a tepee trellis. Give this vine full sun, except in the Deep South, where afternoon shade is welcome. Butterflies and other pollinator insects visit blooms, adding to the color show. Plants grow 5 to 8 feet tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Annual vine, hardy in Zones 10-11. Why we love it: This vine opens non-stop flowers—and it never needs deadheading.

‘St. Swithun’ Climbing Rose

Fill your garden with the rich scent of old roses by including this pretty climber. ‘St. Swithun’ is a showstopper, opening fully double pink blooms with over 120 petals. Flowers appear reliably all season long, releasing a pure myrrh fragrance. This is an English rose packed with disease resistance, making it a breeze to grow. Train it on an arbor or well-anchored arch. Plants grow to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Why we love it: The intense scent is alluring and a perfect complement to an entry garden or outdoor seating area.

Giant Pink Mandevilla

Large pink trumpet shape blooms cover mandevilla vine during summer, conjuring scenes of tropical beauty. This vine is a stunner that’s often grown in containers or hanging baskets. It makes a striking pillar of color when grown on a pot obelisk trellis. In most zones mandevilla is an annual vine that grows 6 to 8 feet in a single season. Overwinter indoors in a cool spot (above 45 degrees F). Leaves may drop, so water just enough it keep it alive. Growth will resume in spring. Mandevilla is hardy in Zones 10-11, where it can reach 10 to 15 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Why we love it: Mandevilla is easy to grow and infuses even the northernmost garden with a tropical ambience.

‘Celestial Mix’ Morning Glory

Morning glory is the flower of early risers, who get to enjoy these gorgeous blooms at their freshest. ‘Celestial Mix’ features vines that unfurl a trio of stunning flower colors: midnight blue, snow white and lavender-blue. Each flower features a contrasting star in the center of the bloom. Morning glory climbs by twining. Simply plant it beside a trellis or support, and the vine will do the rest. Nick or soak seeds overnight to aid germination. This annual vine grows 6 to 7 feet tall. Cut down vines after frost and compost or destroy. Doing this helps to minimize potential disease issues. Why we love it: Flowers unfurl like magic each morning, and if you’re patient, you can witness the event.

Moonflower Vine

Moonflower vine is the after-dark cousin to morning glory. This annual vine opens stunning 6-inch-wide white blooms—loaded with fragrance—starting at dusk. On a warm summer’s evening, it’s pure joy to sit on a patio and watch the moonflowers twirl open. Plant moonflower on a trellis with morning glory for a spectacular sunrise to sunset show. Like morning glories, each moonflower blossom lasts a single day (night). This annual vine grows to 20 feet, twining its way around supports. Soak seeds overnight or nick them prior to planting. Why we love it: The sweet fragrance is tough to beat, and the moths that pollinate the flowers are a delight to watch.

Boston Ivy

A traditional evergreen vine, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is famous for clinging to the sides of buildings, especially in the Northeast. There, it decorates buildings on venerated college campuses known collectively as Ivy League schools. Boston ivy doesn’t need a support to climb. It attaches to surfaces using special holdfasts, sort of a botanical glue. Removing this vine from buildings often results in damage to surfaces. Boston ivy grows 30 to 50 feet tall by up to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Why we love it: The fall color is spectacular, including shades of red, wine, purple and burgundy. Please note that Boston ivy is considered invasive in some areas.

‘Scentsation’ Honeysuckle

The name says it all: ‘Scentsation’ is a sweetly fragrant honeysuckle. Botanically, this is a type of Lonicera periclymenum, also known as European honeysuckle, a beautiful, non-aggressive vine (unlike its highly invasive Japanese cousin). ‘Scentsation’ flowers mid-spring to late summer. Removing spent flower clusters prolongs bloom. Flowers fade to form red berries, which birds gobble in fall. Vines grow 8 to 10 feet tall by 5 to 6 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Why we love it: The sweet fragrance is tough to beat, especially in early evening. It’s the perfect vine to perfume supper under the stars.

‘Mammoth Mix’ Sweet Pea

Grow this sweet pea, and it will quickly become your favorite. Why? Extra-early, extra-large, richly fragrant blooms on extra-long stems make ‘Mammoth Mix’ (Lathyrus odoratus) the sweet pea of choice for commercial cut flower growers. This is the sweet pea you want for bouquets. Flower colors include navy blue, rose pink, lavender, crimson and salmon pink. The different flower colors all mature at the same time, letting you make bouquets with every color in the vase. These annual vines grow 6 to 8 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide. Why we love it: These big-flowered beauties are heat-tolerant, which makes for a long flowering season.

‘Diamond Ball’ Clematis

Meet a clematis that adds a cool note to any garden with its ice-blue blossoms. ‘Diamond Ball’ clematis unfurls beautiful double blooms up to 5 inches across. It flowers on both new and old stems, making it an easy clematis to prune. Simply cut vines back to 18 inches tall in early spring. Give clematis a trellis or netting to climb in a spot with the head of the plant in sun and the base shaded. Vines grow 5 to 6 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Why we love it: Blue is a must-have color in the garden, and this shade of ice-blue is especially unusual—and on an easy-to-grow plant.

Summer Shandy Hops Vine

Hops vine brings beautiful foliage in shades of golden-yellow to the summer garden. Summer Shandy hops (Humulus x ‘Sumner’) is an ornamental variety bred for its good looks (not for making beer). This hops vine isn’t aggressive, as hops tend to be. It’s well-suited to training on a trellis, fence or porch rail in a home garden. Vines grow 5 to 10 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8. Why we love it: This hops variety is undemanding, easy to grow and adds season-long color to any garden.

Summer Shandy Hops Cone

In late summer, the hop vine flowers, forming eye-catching cones. If you’re growing hops for beer-making, the flower cone is what you harvest for brewing. On Summer Shandy, cones are purely for show. Summer Shandy grows in part sun to sun, and it grows fast. Count on it to blanket a support structure by midsummer. In cold zones, cut vines to ground level after frost kills them.

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