The Magic of Annual Vines
by Jackie Carroll
For the cost of a packet of seeds, you can quickly create a show stopping garden accent or a living hideaway for children, hide a rusty chain link fence or an unsightly garage wall, and turn an ordinary balcony into a private garden. Started from seeds, annual vines will scramble to heights of 20 feet or more, highlighting features you want to show off and covering eyesores.
Add a little magic to your garden by planting a trellis or pole with brightly colored morning glories and moonflowers. You'll have a burst of brightly colored flowers during the day, and luminescent white blossoms at night.
Add shade and privacy to your balcony with annual vines. Because their root systems are limited, they can be grown in large planters on a trellis, or allowed to trail from window boxes and big hanging baskets. The vertical growing habit will make a small area seem larger.
Annual vines are ideal for introducing your children to the magic of gardening. Build a teepee of bamboo or fallen tree branches, and plant with scarlet runner beans or tall nasturtiums. Your children will enjoy their colorful (and edible) hideaway while learning about the wonders of nature.
Plant climbing vines along chain link fences and light poles to soften the look of your landscape.
Annual vines will quickly blanket a problem slope or other area that is difficult to mow with colorful flowers. If your slope is difficult to plant, use a vine that will reseed itself such as morning glories or cardinal climbers.
Plant vines along a southern wall to keep the house cooler in summer.
Annual vines are easy to grow. They like a sunny location with good quality, well drained soil. Plant your seeds according to the package directions, and keep them evenly moist until they germinate. After germination, you'll only need to water when the weather has been extremely hot or dry. Use fertilizers sparingly. An abundance of nitrogen will encourage your vines to produce an abundance of dark green foliage and few flowers.
Have your trellises or other support in place when you plant your seeds. If you can't plant right next to the support, insert twigs into the soil next to the seeds to lead the vines to their intended support. If the vine can't find its support right away, it will waste time searching and reaching for something to grab on to.