Summer-flowering vines add so much to the landscape: They can cover arbors and pergolas to provide shade; fill in lattice fences and help with privacy; and make chain-link fences more attractive.
Because vines climb, the flowers are often produced at eye level or overhead, allowing the gardener the chance to examine the details of the blooms or easily smell the fragrance.
Vines climb in two distinct ways: by twining and by clinging. Twining vines climb by wrapping their stems, leaves or tendrils around a support. They must have string, wire, latticework, trellises, poles or other support structures they can twist around. All the vines in this column are twining vines.
The following vines are wonderful choices for southeast Louisiana gardens and will thrive even during the blistering heat of our summer. They all are best planted in full to part shade.
Rose of Montana: The delicate sprays of small rosy-pink flowers that adorn rose of Montana (Antigonon leptopus, also called rosa de Montana and coral vine) are unique and delightful. Flowering may occur all summer but is generally most abundant in the late summer and fall. This native of Mexico is dormant in winter, making it an excellent choice for an arbor over a patio where summer shade is desirable, but the sun can shine in during the winter.
Coral honeysuckle: This vine (Lonicera sempervirens) is an outstanding native that is remarkably well-behaved as vines go. The tubular coral-red flowers are produced in clusters at the ends of shoots. The evergreen foliage is a distinctive blue green with silvery undersides. Flower production is generally heaviest in early summer but continues throughout the season. The attractive but scentless flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.
Evergreen wisteria: With its dark green shiny foliage and dangling clusters of deep purple flowers, evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata) is an excellent large vine. It resembles Chinese wisteria (Wisteria chinensis). This twining vine is less unruly than Chinese wisteria but is still best used in situations that provide it with plenty of room to grow.
Confederate jasmine: This vigorous, evergreen, large-growing vine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is great for covering arbors and pergolas. Incredibly abundant, very fragrant, creamy white flowers are produced in early summer (around May).
Passion vines: Named for the religious symbolism in their flowers, passion vines provide some of the most beautiful and exotic flowers in the summer garden. The native maypop (Passiflora incarnata) produces delicate lavender flowers 2 to 3 inches across followed by edible green fruit. There are numerous tropical species and hybrids available as well. The passion vine also is the larval food plant of the beautiful Gulf fritillary butterfly and is often planted for that reason. If you see orange caterpillars with black spines eating your vine, do consider not spraying if the damage can be tolerated.
There are numerous outstanding tropical vines that are generally reliably hardy in Zone 9, especially Zone 9b (south shore). However, they may be killed by freezes in the low 20s or teens. Most will survive typical winter temperatures, especially if the base is deeply mulched. Still, it’s best not to use these vines where a permanent vine is desired.
Mandevilla vines: With their large, showy flowers in shades of white, pink and red, Mandevilla vines are among the most beautiful of the summer-flowering vines. And they bloom from early summer to the first hard freeze. Even if this tender vine should die during the winter, they are well worth the cost of replacing them when needed. This is a great twining vine for smaller areas as it is not as exuberant in its growth as many vines.
More: Other tender vines include firecracker vine (Manettia cordifolia), bougainvillea (Bougainvillea hybrids), Argentine trumpet vine (Clytostoma callistegioides), queen’s wreath (Petrea volubilis), bleeding heart vine (Clerodendrum thomsoniae and Clerodendrum x P vine (Clerodendrum x P vine) (Cleodendrum x vine) vine (Clytostoma callistegioides) , rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica) and butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera).
I must mention some of the annual vines that bloom in the summer garden. These vines generally live for only one season and must be replanted from seeds each spring.
Hyacinth bean: I especially would not be without the hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab, Lablab purpureus). Purple stems hold purple-tinted three-part leaves and long spikes of lavender and purple flowers. The flowers are followed by attractive, shiny purple bean pods.
Cypress vine and cardinal vine: Two related vines that are similar in appearance are the cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and cardinal vine (Ipomoea multifida). I love to let these delicate twining vines weave themselves among other plants and climb up small trees and trellises. They do tend to self-seed, so watch for seedlings and don’t allow them to grow where they are unwanted.
Moon flower vine: The queen of the evening garden is the moon flower vine (Ipomoea alba.) This vine rapidly unfurls large, fragrant white flowers at dusk, and the large heart-shaped leaves form a wonderful background. This large vine grows luxuriantly in the sultry New Orleans summer and is perfect planted by a patio on in a container on a balcony.
Vines add so much to our gardens it would be hard to imagine doing without them. The vines mentioned here are only a few of the many that will delight you with their brilliant flowers and long blooming seasons. Just remember, vines have no self-control. When you invite these charming plants into your garden, be prepared to control and guide their enthusiasm.
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Garden columnist Dan Gill answers readers’ questions each week. To send a question, email Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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