The Q&A Archives: Arbor plants

Question: I have a patio and arbor. I want to know what I can plant that will climb up the arbor. I want something that will bloom for as long as possible and something that is low maintance and is not too invasive.

Answer: You have your choice between annual vines (which need to be replanted each spring, but are easiest to control in terms of invasiveness) and perennial vines (which will need pruning to keep them under control). Here are some wonderful flowering vines:

The Chilean bellflower, or Lapageria rosea, is an attractive vine with unique bell-shaped flowers of red, pink, or white. Flowering from summer until fall, this beautiful annual prefers partial shade and will climb up to 15 feet.

Clematis jackmanii is the flowering vine for the person who likes the rich royal shades of purple. Enjoying full sun in zones 4-9, these velvety flowers will reach heights of up to 10 feet.

The aromatic Madagascar jasmine, also known as Stephanotis floribunda, is a popular favorite amongst flowering vines. Growing up to 15 feet high, these fragrant, waxy white flowers bloom from spring to fall, providing hardy annual beauty.

Another beautiful white flowering vine is the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris), which offers soft and delicate white peals throughout the summer. Enjoying full sun to light shade in zones 4-9, this flowering vine grows up to a stunning 40 feet tall.

Corkscrew flowers, also known as snail flowers or snail bean (Vigna caracalla), are a definite conversation-starter. Pink, yellow, or white flowers from summer to fall feature a unique corkscrew bloom and are sure to catch the eye. Growing up to 25 feet in height, these annuals enjoy full sun.

If you?re looking for a very aggressive climber, the plant for you might just be the orange, red, or yellow trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). Growing up to 30 feet and enjoying full sun in zones 5-9, this aggressive vine does require a strong support in order to grow properly.

Want a vine that can be put to use for more than just hiding eyesores? The 20 foot scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) is a full sun annual that offers not only red flowers in the summer, but also edible pods.

Two popular favorites are the delicate sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) and the climbing rose (Rosa spp.) Both offer fragrant blooms, the roses ranging in color dependant upon species, from spring until fall, and reaching heights of 15 feet. Favoring full sun in zones 4-9, these are popular in romantic-styled gardens. Likewise with the delicate sweet pea, which offers flowers in a wide range of colors (bicolor too), from summer to fall. Growing up to 8 feet tall, this annual thrives in full sun, particularly in the northern regions.

The cup and saucer vine, or Cobaea scandens, grows fragrant purple or white bell-shaped flowers from summer to fall. This is a captivating specimen, reaching heights of 25 feet, where it enjoys full sun in the North and afternoon shade in the hot South.

Last but not least is the beautiful and mysterious morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor). Sporting a wide range of colors, including bicolor, this vine blooms throughout the summer and grows up to 12 feet. This annual enjoys full sun, but is also interesting in that its beautiful blooms open during the cool, early morning hours, but will close during the heat of the day.

Best wishes with your new vine.

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