Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
September, 2001
Regional Report

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The lavender blooms and burgundy seed pods of hyacinth beans are great for floral arrangements. This annual vine thrives in our southern heat and humidity.

Cooling Vines

Southern summers can be brutal on gardeners and their gardens. As the mercury climbs patios, decks, and children's playscapes become a broiling inferno. West-facing rock and brick walls heat up, radiating heat into the home long after the sun goes down.

Vines Beat the Heat

Vines offer a beautiful way to beat the heat. They provide a natural screen to shade a west-facing wall and provide a patio or deck with an attractive living wall or ceiling. 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 one of the less vigorous vines.

Vine Types

We have many great vines to choose from for our southern landscapes. I divide vines into three basic groups; annual and tropical vines (must be replanted each year), perennial vines (die back to the ground each winter and return in spring), and woody vines (above ground portions usually survive over winter). Here are a few of my favorite flowering vines for southern landscapes.

Annual and Tropical Vines

All these annual and tropical vines flower best in full sun. Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) produces 1-inch diameter red flowers and a canopy of feathery foliage. Hummingbirds love it. Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) produces beautiful 12 inch long purple flower stalks in summer followed by burgundy seed pods in late summer and fall. Morning glory (Ipomoea) has large blooms of many colors depending on the variety. Moon vine (Ipomoea alba) is a close relative to morning glories, but blooms at night. Rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica) has large clusters of flared trumpet blooms that start out white, then turn red. This 3 foot tall shrub can quickly turn into a sprawling vine once established. Blue butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) produces showy dark blue flowers with white centers. This tame vine that is great for planting in restricted areas.

Perennial Vines

Coral vine or queen's wreath (Antigonon leptopus) produces vivid pink clusters (a white form is also available) of delicate lace-like blooms that hang down like pink chains. Sky flower (Thunbergia grandiflora) has large blue flowers that appear late in summer. It attracts hummingbirds. Passion flower (Passiflora) comes in several types with fascinating and complex blooms in colors such as red, blue, or purple. Snail vine (Vigna caracalla) produces pale purple blooms that curl around themselves reminiscent of a snail's shell. Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis discorifolia) produces clouds of white flowers in late summer and early fall that offer a scent reminiscent of vanilla.

Woody Vines

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has tubular, coral (yellow form is also available) bloom clusters. This is a well-mannered honeysuckle species. Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) has show stopping tangerine to coral spring blooms. Look for the variety 'Tangerine Beauty'. Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) comes in yellow or orange tubular flowers that can grow rampantly. Look for the varieties 'Madame Galen' and 'Georgia'. Wisteria (Wisteria) produces long cascades of blue to purple flowers in spring. Several species and varieties are available. It needs lots of room to grow. Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) produces trumpet shaped yellow blooms in spring. Be careful since all parts of this plant are poisonous. Butterfly vine (Stigmaphyllum periplocaefolium) produces yellow flower clusters followed by butterfly-shaped seed pods. It may freeze to ground some years in our region.

Choosing the Location

With so many wonderful choices, there is truly a vine for every part of the landscape. Take a look around your landscape for a place were a vine could provide beauty, shade, or screen an unpleasant view.

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