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Annual Vines for the Mailbox or Trellis

The pioneering American landscape architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said: “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” Aside from hiding things, vines are great for vertical accents. Unfortunately, perennial vines tend to have a shorter flowering period, and once planted, you are stuck with them forever unless you dig them up and plant something else. I do not mean this in a negative way; I love many of the perennial vines and have several in my landscape, but you may want to add some annual vines to your garden palette that can bloom over several months during the growing season.

One hyacinth bean plant can easily cover a trellis.

One hyacinth bean plant can easily cover a trellis.
Paul Thompson, Clemson Extension

Hyacinth bean vine produces ornamental reddish-purple pods.

Hyacinth bean vine produces ornamental reddish-purple pods.
Paul Thompson, Clemson Extension

Hyacinth bean is a vigorous climber with spikes of light purple flowers.

Hyacinth bean is a vigorous climber with spikes of light purple flowers.
Paul Thompson, ©2022, Clemson Extension

Hyacinth bean, Lablab purpureus, is a beautiful vine with large, dark green leaves. It is a vigorous climber with spikes of light purple flowers followed by equally ornamental reddish-purple pods. One plant can easily cover a typical trellis and will begin blooming in late June and continue until the first frost. There is a purple-leaved form called ‘Ruby Moon’ and a white-flowered form called ‘Silver Moon.’ Direct sow seeds in the garden in May after the soil has warmed.

Although a tropical perennial, Black-eyed Susan vine, Thunbergia alata, is a vigorous grower with medium green leaves and a profusion of trumpet-shaped yellow flowers with a black throat. It will flower nonstop from June to the first frost. You can also buy seed for flowers that are orange, salmon, or white. Local garden centers also carry this vine in late spring, which would give you a head start.

Black-eyed Susan vine, Thunbergia alata, is a vigorous grower with medium green leaves and will flower nonstop from June to the first frost.

Black-eyed Susan vine, (Thunbergia alata), is a vigorous grower with medium green leaves and will flower nonstop from June to the first frost.
Paul Thompson, ©2022, Clemson Extension

Black-eyed Susan vine produces a profusion of trumpet-shaped yellow flowers with a black throat.

Black-eyed Susan vine produces a profusion of trumpet-shaped yellow flowers with a black throat.
Paul Thompson, ©2022, Clemson Extension

  • A close relative is sky flower, Thunbergia grandiflora. This vine has very dark green foliage and large, up to 3-inch sky blue flowers. Although not as profuse a bloomer as the black-eyed Susan, it is a very attractive vine, and the large blue flowers set it apart. This vine is also a tender perennial that may come back in coastal areas.
Sky flower (Thunbergia grandiflora) has very dark green foliage and large (up to 3-inches) sky blue flowers.

Sky flower (Thunbergia grandiflora) has very dark green foliage and large (up to 3-inches) sky blue flowers.
Paul Thompson, ©2022, Clemson Extension

For more information on other annual and perennial vines, see HGIC 1101, Vine Selections for Landscaping.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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