Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:57 PM
Get It Growing News For 06/04/04
Some of the most beautiful flowers of the summer garden are produced by vines. Better yet, since vines climb, the flowers often are produced at eye-level or overhead – allowing us the chance to easily smell the fragrance or closely examine the details of the blooms.
The following perennial vines are great choices for Louisiana and will thrive even during the blistering heat of our summer. They are best planted in full to part sun.
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 during summer but is generally most abundant in the late summer and fall. This twining native of Mexico generally freezes back during the winter but reliably grows rapidly from its roots in spring.
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), a native vine, is remarkably well behaved, as vines go. The tubular coral red flowers are produced in clusters at the ends of shoots that often dangle gracefully from this twining vine. The evergreen foliage is a distinctive blue-green with silvery undersides. Flower production generally is heaviest in early summer but continues throughout the season. And the flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds.
The well-known Hall’s Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’) is far more rampant in its growth but well loved for its numerous fragrant white flowers produced all summer.
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is a beautiful – but so very rampant – deciduous spring-flowering vine. For the summer garden, we have evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata). With its dark green shiny foliage and very intense deep purple flowers, the resemblance to Chinese wisteria is superficial but noticeable. 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.
Fast-growing evergreen vines are always useful for covering arches, arbors and pergolas, and akebia (Akebia quinata) is an outstanding twining choice for any of those purposes. The slightly glossy five-part leaves are dark green and provide a beautiful background for the clusters of dusky purple flowers. They are most numerous in April and May but continue to appear all summer. The sweet fragrance they produce permeates the air around the vine but is not overpowering.
Mandevilla (Mandevilla ‘Alice DuPont’) produces large, rosy pink flowers in showy clusters all summer long. This tropical vine generally is not hardy when planted into the ground, but it is inexpensive and readily available and can be treated as an annual. This is a great twining vine for small areas, because it is not as exuberant in its growth as many vines.
Passion vines provide some of the most beautiful and exotic flowers in the summer garden. The native maypop (Passiflora incarnata) produces delicate lavender flowers followed by edible green fruit. Tropical species, such as the vigorous red passion vine (Passiflora coccinea and P. vitifolia) and blue passion vine (P. caerulea), are just a few of the many wonderful choices in this genus of twining vines. The passion vine 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 – they’ll be butterflies later.
There also are great annual vines that bloom in the summer garden. These vines generally live for only one season and must be replanted from seeds each spring.
As for those vines, I would not be without the hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab). Purple stems hold purple tinted three-part leaves and long spikes of lavender and purple flowers. The flowers are followed by shiny purple bean pods that are edible when young and flat.
Two vines related to each other and similar in appearance are the cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and cardinal vine (Ipomoea multifida). Their delicate foliage and brilliant red star-shaped flowers are welcome throughout the garden. I like to let these delicate twining vines weave themselves among other plants and climb up small trees and trellises. Their prolific production of seeds will be noticed the next year when volunteers sprout up in abundance. Pull up the extras and let the others grow where you want them.
Although related, the moon flower (Ipomoea alba) is very different. The queen of the evening garden, the moon flower rapidly unfurls large, fragrant snow white flowers at dusk. The large heart-shaped leaves form a wonderful background. This large vine grows luxuriantly in the sultry Louisiana summer and is perfect planted by a patio or in a container on a balcony.
The vines mentioned here are only a few of the many that will delight you with their brilliant flowers and long blooming season. Just remember, vines, bless their hearts, have no self control. When you invite these charming plants into your garden, be prepared to control and guide their enthusiasm.
Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.