It’s been a long time since I started plants from seed, but after taking a tree down this year and opening up some new sunny spots, I’m excited to try some again. That tree unfortunately removed a lot of cover for the birds, so I thought I’d grow some annual vines up the fence since my newly planted shrubs are still small. Having also put up a new Monet Arch, I’m anxious to get something growing on it while the grapes I planted get started. And, since we have these new Go-Grow Kits here, it’s the perfect time to share my fun with you!

Cosmos Double Take, Photo Courtesy W. Atlee Burpee Company, burpee.comIt’s amazing that many fantastic flowers are so easy to grow, which is good, because I don’t have time to pamper them. I prefer growing in something that can take me all the way from starting seed to planting, so using the Go-Grow Kits is perfect. Some plants, like cosmos for instance, don’t like the root disturbance associated with transplanting. These plantable pots remove that worry, plus starting tender plants inside versus direct sowing brings blooms weeks or even months earlier, depending on your growing zone. 

I'll post what I've chosen in future website blogs , which will include candidates for bedding and cutting gardens. For today, we'll start with a list of spectacular flowering vines that you can grow from seed with a minimum of effort--perfect to quickly decorate your archtrellis, pillar or obelisk. Most of these grow so fast they're a great way to screen a view for the season. They can also grow well on trellises in large planters--if you need privacy on a balcony, for instance.

Note that these plants will be happiest with a minimum of fertilization--too much nitrogen results in heavy vegetative growth that sacrifices flowering. They may easily reseed, so don’t plant them close to your vegetable garden, or anywhere else that might be problematic. The farther south you are, the more likely it is to be an issue. Also, those of you in the south can direct sow these much sooner than folks up north, so it may be simpler for you to do so.

Moonflower Vine (Ipomoea alba):  Enormous and impressive, 4-6 inch pure white fragrant flowers bloom on twining vines that reach 10-12 feet.  You can actually watch the huge buds unfurl at twilight! Oh, so easy to grow—just nick the seed coat and place between a few layers of wet paper towel until they sprout, then into the Go-Grow pot. These don’t like root disturbance, so planting the growing pot directly in the ground is the way to go--make sure there is absolutely no danger of frost, or be ready to protect in that event. Give it a spot in full sun with well-drained soil, keep it watered, and stand back. You'll enjoy watching the hummers and sphinx moths that pollinate these beauties. 


Morning Glory Vine (Ipomoea purpurea):  
The early-rising cousin of moonflower.  Since they must awaken so early, the flowers are a bit smaller—at least that’s my reasoning!  Lovely shades of blue, purple and pink, some with white streaks or picotee edge.  Grown with moonflowers, you’ll have flowers morning and evening.  Germinate and grow same as moonflower.  I'm anxious to try the pictured variety, Cotton Candy, as it is suited for smaller gardens and the lovely frilly petals are so different from the traditional form. 

Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri) and Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit):  Cypress Vine is actually one of the parents of Cardinal Climber, and both have the same bright red one-inch starry blooms that will attract hummingbirds en masse.  But they’re not just a small red morning glory—it’s the foliage that differs and makes these twining vines unique.  Take the large, heart shaped morning glory leaf and snip deeply all around the periphery and you have a Cardinal Climber leaf.  Now take that leaf and keep snipping away, and you’ll end up with the ferny, feathery foliage of Cypress Vine. Either will add an airy and delicate texture to the garden.  But though they look delicate, don’t be fooled—these vigorous vines will grow easily to 15 feet or more.  Burpee Seed offers a white Cypress Vine, and a variety with mixed red, pink, and white blooms, 'Maiden's Feather', is available from Renee's Garden.  Same germination and culture as moonflower & morning glory.

Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab):  A wall covered with blooming hyacinth bean is take-your-breath-away
gorgeous.  Bright purplish-pink blossoms on purple stems, burgundy toned foliage, and shiny magenta-purple seed pods combine for a spectacular show all summer long.  The twining vines will easily grow to 10, 15, or even 20 feet, perfect for arches, arbors, & large trellises or obelisks—or even covering a chain link fence!  This one also resents root disturbance, so our 
Go-Grow pots work well if starting indoors. Burpee Seed offers “Silver Moon,” a white-flowering variety, that would truly light up your moon garden.  Hyacinth bean can take a bit of shade, and might even appreciate some relief in the afternoon in very hot summer climates.  All parts of this legume are edible, except for the dried seeds.

Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus):  
Also an edible legume, Scarlet Runner beans can be cooked and eaten like any other bean, and the flowers and young shoots can be added to salads. But the real reason you'll want them is for the flashy bright red flowers that are favorites of hummingbirds. Twining rapidly up to as much as 12 feet, these are terrific for large arches or pergolas.  One of my favorite uses is to make a bean teepee--arrange tall stakes or poles in the shape of a teepee, and let the beans cover.  Leave an opening to create a secret hideaway for the kids, or for you when you need a quiet respite.  Start indoors about 4 weeks before last frost, then plant in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. Regular harvesting will prolong bloom. 'Painted Lady,' is an heirloom variety available from Renee's Garden, with beautifully bi-colored coral and white blossoms.

Climbing Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus):  'Climbing'  nasturtiums aren't going to shade you or fly up your fence--they'll probably need a little help to get where they're going. Their gentle ascent is well-suited to small trellises, or simply let them trail from hanging baskets or over walls.  But they offer so many wonderful things--including peppery-tasting leaves and flowers, and seed pods that can be pickled and used like capers. Add a preference for poor, relatively dry soil, soft blue-green rounded foliage and stunning flowers, and you have a plant that deserves any gardener's (or cook's) appreciation. Native to mountain areas, they may struggle some in hot summer regions--a little afternoon shade may provide enough relief.  Don't disturb the roots when transplanting, and don't fertilize!  Do try a salmon-nasturtium pizza, and enjoy the hummingbirds, who find the nectar particularly sweet.