Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
June, 2003
Regional Report

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Rangoon creeper is a vigorous vine that blooms from summer to fall, bearing large clusters of flared trumpet blooms, which start out white/pink and turn to red.

Fast-Growing Vines Provide Shade From Summer Sun

Our southern summers can be brutal. As the mercury climbs, gardeners seek refuge indoors, and yard work is relegated to early morning and late afternoon hours.

The combination of heat and humidity can turn our backyard recreational areas, including patios, decks, and children's playscapes, into a broiling inferno. The heat causes our air conditioning units to work overtime trying to keep up. Western walls, especially rock and brick surfaces, really heat up and radiate that heat into the home even after the sun goes down.

Vines offer a beautiful way to beat the heat. They can provide a natural screen to shade that brick wall on the west side of a home, or to keep the air conditioning unit a little cooler. They also make an attractive outdoor wall or ceiling for a patio or deck.

We have many great annual and tropical vines, which must be replanted each year. There also are some super perennial vines, which die back to the ground each winter and return in spring.

Annual and Tropical Vines
Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) ? This bushy, twining climber produces clusters of 2-inch orange, daisy-like blooms throughout the summer. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Tends to stay somewhat compact rather than taking over an area. May return from roots some years. Full sun.

Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) - One-inch, red flowers and a canopy of feathery foliage that resembles that of the cypress tree. Reseeds profusely. Full sun. Flowers attract hummingbirds. Sun to part shade.

Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab) - Fast-growing bean vine with beautiful spikes of lavender and purple flowers over 12 inches long. Blooms begin to set seed in late summer and fall. Leaves are green with burgundy undersides, adding to the vine's appeal. Full sun.

Morning Glory (Ipomoea sp.) - Fast-growing vine with large blooms in shades of blue, white and red. Mites can be a problem at times, but the gorgeous blooms are worth it. The moon vine (Ipomoea alba) is a close relative that blooms at night. Great for an outdoor deck area. Full sun.

Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica) - This plant starts off as a 3-foot shrub and then starts sending long, vining shoots out and the plant becomes a vine. Produces large clusters of flared trumpet blooms that start out white and turn to red. May return from roots some years. Full sun.

Blue Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea) ? This is a "tame" vine that won't take over and thus is great for restricted areas. Its showy, dark blue flowers with white centers are best viewed up close. Full sun to part shade.

Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia) - Several species of imported and one native vine with unique pipe-shaped blooms, best viewed up-close. Fast growing. Full sun to part shade.

Perennial Vines
Coral Vine or Queen's Wreath (Antigonon leptopus) - A running vine that must be pruned to keep in a confined area. Vivid pink clusters of delicate, lace-like blooms that hang down like pink chains. Blooms from late summer to fall. Attracts pollinator insects such as bumblebees. A white blooming form also is available. Full sun.

Sky Flower (Thunbergia grandiflora) - Fast-growing vine that covers an area quickly to provide a fast screen. Large blue flowers are a very attractive accent and appear late in the season. Attracts hummingbirds. Full sun.

Passion Flower (Passiflora sp.) - Several species offering blooms in various colors including red (not a hardy perennial), blue, or purple. Larval food source for Gulf Fritillary butterfly. Flowers are fascinating and complex. Best viewed up-close. Full sun.

Snail Vine (Vigna caracalla) - Pale purple blooms that curl around on themselves, reminiscent of a snail's shell. Best viewed up-close. Full sun.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis discorifolia) ? Give this one plenty of room to form a large mound of foliage and blooms. Clouds of whitish flowers in late summer or early fall offer a scent reminiscent of vanilla. Prefers to grow onto something such as a garden arch or pillar, forming a cascading mound of foliage. Full sun to part shade.

With so many wonderful choices, there is truly a vine for every part of the landscape. Even apartment dwellers can use vines. A container set up against a porch pillar or beside a stair or balcony railing makes a great home for several of our less vigorous vines. Take a look around your landscape. There are probably a number of places where a vine could serve you well to beautify, shade, or screen a view.

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