Depending on the type of flowering vine you grow, they can provide a lush living wall of privacy, bare bodacious blooms gently arched over an entrance to a magical garden, and transform an unattractive area, such as a chain-link fence, tree stump or compost area.
My spring project is to grow a living wall of blooming color. The Flamenco trumpet vine produces glossy dark green leaves and vibrant orange-red flowers that bloom in clusters mid-summer to frost.
A 7-by-9-foot vertical and overhead trellis in my yard, with a southeastern exposure, is the perfect location for this exotic looking climber. Growing to 30 feet, this vine attracts butterflies, bees, and is a favorite of the hummingbird. This colorful bloomer grows quickly and will provide the privacy I want.
Chocolate Vine is another hardy climber or groundcover that can be planted in spring. This Japanese native grows to 6 feet, blooms early summer and produces lilac-purple flowers with a delicious chocolate fragrance. The edible seedpods ripen mid to late fall and tastes like tapioca.
This is a good idea for a large curly-willow tree stump in my yard that will soon be hollowed out with a sturdy chisel, filled with soil, and prepared for a tempting plant like the Chocolate vine.
A well-established Wisteria is breathtaking in bloom and has always been a favorite of mine.
Pendulous flowers grow quite long and vary in colors of pink, lilac, white, blue and purple.
Wisteria trees are often slow to start growing and establish their root systems before giving energy to the leaves. It will not bloom for the first three to four years, so patience is essential.
However, once established, they can become vigorous and consume anything they grow on.
With this in mind, consider the geographical location and sturdiness of the structure the vine will grow on. Training the vine over and through your trellis-roof-structure is important. Wisteria can reach 80 feet but occasional pruning will limit its advance and promote more flower buds.
An interesting vine to try growing is the Luffa gourd or otherwise known as the vegetable sponge. They are commonly grown for their fibrous tissue that is used as a bath sponge.
But, did you know young fruits plucked off the vine, under 7 inches long, can be cooked and eaten or sliced in salads? The Luffa vines and leaves are similar to that of the cucumber indicating they are related to cucumbers, squash and other gourds. The fruit can grow to 2 feet and will remain green until it is thoroughly ripe. The skin will harden and dry and the stem will yellow, indicating the vegetable sponge, hidden inside, is ready; this usually takes about two weeks.
Follow the link to grow your own vegetable sponges: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2011/12/making-a-luffa-sponge.html
Dutchman's Pipevine is an exotic looking climber and one I intend to plant this fall. In a few years it will grow into a thick wall of 5-to-10-inch heart-shaped leaves and bloom small purpleish "pipe" flowers. This hardy plant can reach 30 feet and attracts pollinators. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans if ingested, so keep it growing far away from the vegetable garden. In my yard, the gate and fence line is the perfect location for this climber.
Whether they twine throughout a trellis, bloom fragrant pendulum flowers overhead, or spread quickly as a groundcover, growing exotic and unique flowering vines add a whole new element of beauty to any yard or garden.
For questions and ideas for future articles, email IdahoGardenGirl@gmail.com