Climbing plants

Vines for Vertical Growing

Canary Bird Vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum)

This season, try adding a vertical element to your garden. You’re probably already growing peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and maybe gourds, melons and squash. These plants require a trellis or frame, and the heat lovers do best in a greenhouse. There are many clever tricks to getting your plants up off the ground, the simplest being stakes and netting. I suggest netting with the large squares, so no birds get trapped.  Vining plants can be planted in the ground in a narrow garden as long as they have something to hold on to.

What Plants to Choose?

There are many possibilities for growing vertical, such as peas and other vegetables, and also perennial vines, such as Clematis. In this post I’ll be talking about some flowering vines, you may not be familiar with.

An Alaskan favorite is the State Fair Vine or Rhodochiton atrosanguineum which is also known as Purple Bell Vine.

I really like growing annual flowering vines. Sweet Peas are a must for their fragrance. Check out all the varieties at Renee’s Garden, as well as other suggestions (listed below). You may be able to find some of these varieties locally as plants or seeds, but you should still go to to study up on the varieties that you like. Search under the “Flowers” tab and also type in “Vines” in the search tab.

Purple Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab).

Vines can grow upright or cascading down in hanging baskets. The Phoenix Climbing Nasturtiums do well in hanging containers.

The taller climbers can grow in large pots with bamboo stakes as teepees wrapped in jute or hemp cord (compostable) or the large grid nylon netting. Grow them to climb a wall or a deck.

Cardinal Climber, Cathedral Bells, Cypress Vine, Exotic Love Vine(Ipomoea lobata), Hyacinth Bean Vine, Moonflower Vine, Morning Glory, Climbing Nasturtiums, Runner Bean, Sweet Peas, Black-eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata) are some of Renee’s offerings.

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

Many of the vine seeds are large and will sprout quickly when soaked in water before planting.

Renee’s site has tons of information on the packet, and on the website, including recipes for your veggies.

My garden wouldn’t be the same without the Canary Bird Vine (locally at an Ed Hume seed rack).

Picture of seed packet and information from the website.

Exotic Love Vine (Ipomoea lobata)

This lush New World native has intricate fleur-de-lis shaped leaves that cascade on strong and vigorous vines. From midsummer on, the showy foliage is covered with sprays of graceful tubular flowers that start as orange-red buds and open to shades from crimson to soft coral, lemon yellow and vanilla, all the shades appearing together on each arching blossom. Cover a fence, gate or trellis with this fine heirloom whose tropical beauty has graced gardens for over 100 years. “

Black-eyed Susan Vine  (Thunbergia alata).

Black-Eyed Susan Vine  (Thunbergia alata)

The black eyed-susan vine is a popular hanging basket in Anchorage, and can easily be grown on a trellis or window box.

Cathedral Bells (Cobaea scandens)

Cathedral Bells (Cobaea scandens)

This climber is also called “Cup and Saucer Vine.” I’ve grown this in a hanging basket and let it climb wherever it wants to go. It even overwinters in my heated greenhouse and climbs into the rafters.

Heirloom Cypress Vine.

I hope you will experiment with these wonderful climbing flowers! Summer may be short here in the North, but we want lots of color close at hand, so try a few of these suggestions in window boxes and hanging baskets. Even a window box or large pot on the ground in front of a fence or wall will serve. Be sure to add a trellis of some sort for the plants to climb.

You’ll be glad you went vertical!

Patrick Ryan is an Alaska Master Gardener and the Education Specialist for the Alaska Botanical Garden. A retired elementary school teacher, Patrick is a member of the Anchorage Community Forest Council and sits on the board for Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom.

2 comments on “Vines for Vertical Growing

  1. We grow hyacinth bean every year. Only a few seeds are plenty. First year we planted about 15 seeds on each side of our swing support and we had to cut big hole in it to get in the swing! We thought the vines would pull the structure down!

  2. Lynne FitzGerald

    I grow Moonflowers every year. It is challenging.

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