By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Gardeners in warmer areas of the U.S. can beautify an entryway or a container with the delicately flowering climbing snapdragon plant. Growing a climbing snapdragon vine is easy with help from this article.
One of the most romantic of all flowers is surely the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus), with its frilly, butterfly-like blooms and heady fragrance, likened to honey and orange blossoms.
Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, it has been in cultivation since the 1600s when, according to legend, a Sicilian monk named Franciscus Cupani took note of its qualities and sent seeds to England. But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that a Scottish nurseryman, Henry Eckford, recognized the sweet pea’s potential and developed numerous varieties (some still on the market), launching this humble member of the Pea Family into garden stardom.
Thunbergia alata is a short annual vine that grows well in containers. The flowers are small (around 2 inches) and come in shades of white, yellow, and orange. Sporting dark centers, they resemble the garden perennial black-eyed Susans. You can often find black-eyed Susan vines sold in hanging baskets. You will get longer vines (around 6 to 8 feet) when you grow them in the ground, but being pot-bound tends to encourage them to bloom more profusely.
The plants are easy to grow from seed. You can start the seed indoors six to eight weeks before last frost or directly sow them in the ground in spring. It can take 12 weeks after planting from seed for the vines to start flowering, so starting the seeds indoors can help speed things along. Use peat pots or paper pots, so you can transplant into your garden without disturbing the seedlings. Keep the soil moist, and you should see germination within one to two weeks. Make sure to harden off seedlings before planting outside. Once in your garden, water your vines once or twice a week to ensure moderate soil moisture, especially if you don't have rainfall.
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata). Dark-throated tubular flowers in shades of orange, peach, pink, yellow, or white. Reaches 10 feet tall.
Bow tie vine (Dalechampia dioscoreifolia also sold as Costa Rican butterfly vine). Showy purple bracts enclose tiny yellow flowers. Needs adequate warmth for abundant bloom. Tolerates light shade. To 16–25 feet.
Canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum). Feathery, bright yellow blooms. Prefers light shade. To 15 feet.
Climbing snapdragon (Asarina scandens). Tubular flowers in shades of purple, rose, or white. Great choice for containers. To 4–8 feet.
Cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea scandens). Large, bell-shaped flowers in rosy purple or white. Vigorous growth to 25 feet.
Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab). Purple flowers shaped like sweet pea blossoms are followed by magenta pods. To 10 feet.
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor). Cheery, bell-shaped flowers in blue, pink, red, white, and many variations. To 8–15 feet.
Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus). Scarlet flowers are followed by edible bean pods. To 15 feet.
Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata). Tubular flowers open red and fade to orange and cream. To 15 feet.