The Q&A Archives: Hyacinth Bean

Question: We have just moved to Washington state from South Carolina. I used to love growing hyacinth bean, but have not seen it here, nor have I heard anything about it. Last summer I planted sweet potato vine, and it seemed to just hover at the same height I started with. I really need something to cover an old chain link fence in the back yard rather quickly and fully. It gets full sun for about half of the day, when it is sunny here. Any suggestions?

Answer: Hyacinth bean (Dolichos) does grow in the Pacific Northwest, but because of the typically cool and rainy summer, it doesn't perform as well as Scarlet Runner Bean or Lonicera (honeysuckle). If you're looking for a temporary screen, plant scarlet runners. A more permanent solution (but not as fast!) would be honeysuckle. Both plants need at least half-day sunshine and well-draining soil.

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