Everblooming Summer Vines for Gardens

Everblooming Summer Vines for Gardens Featured Image
Common (pink and purple) and blue morning glories are two everblooming summer vines.
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Savvy gardeners know that flowering vines do more than just hang around. No matter how thick their stems, vines are masters at pulling their weight in the garden, brightening vertical spaces, and providing small-space gardeners with a larger plant canvas.

Everblooming or nearly everblooming annual vines give the most colorful bang for the gardener’s buck and also delight the pollinators that flutter and fly to them.  The range of choices is large, from the intricate blooms of climbing nasturtium (Tropaeolum Group) to the old fashioned charm of annual morning glories (Ipomoea purpurea).  Most annual vines climb and twine with their own steam. All the gardener needs to provide is support in the form of a trellis, pergola, tuteur, or fence.

To give your vine the greatest chance of success, consider the amount of available vertical space, as well as sun and shade levels. Most flowering vines need full sunlight to look their best. At planting time, whether planting seeds or seedlings, amend the soil with Fafard Ultra Outdoor Planting Mix, to increase fertility, in addition to a slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering plants.

Vines with Old-Fashioned Charm

'Heavenly Blue' morning glory
Arguably, the best blue morning glory variety is the classic ‘Heavenly Blue’.

The cheerful common morning glory (Ipomoea-purpurea) and blue morning glory (I. tricolor) are probably the best-known annual vines.  These familiar cottage-garden favorites feature funnel-shaped flowers that bloom from mid to late summer through frost, with new blooms opening each day against a backdrop of medium green, heart-shaped leaves. Common types bloom earlier than blue and come in a range of colors from white to red, pink, and purple, with some bi-colored varieties.  Flower throats may be white, yellow, or even pink, like those of the white-flowered ‘Dolce Vita’. The heirloom variety, ‘Grandpa Ott’s’, features purple petals accented with brighter red-purple star-shaped markings.  Blue morning glories have larger flowers that start blooming later and come in shades of sky blue and white. The impressive ‘Flying Saucers’ is splashed with blue and white stripes.

'Grandpa Ott's' morning glory
The heirloom common morning glory ‘Grandpa Ott’s’ features purple petals with red star-shaped markings.

Grow morning glories to full sun and with well-drained soil provided with average moisture.  The large seeds are easy to sow directly into the garden right after your area’s last frost date. Nick and soak them the day before for faster sprouting. The plants are liberal self-seeders, so one package of morning glory seeds may give you many years’ worth of climbing displays.

If you live with children or pets, it is wise to remember that morning glory seeds are toxic if ingested.

Vines with Drama at Dusk

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) has huge, fragrant white flowers that unfurl at night.

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is morning glory’s night owl cousin, with huge ivory funnels that glow and become fragrant at night. Pollinated by nocturnal moths, the blooms open at dusk and close up the following morning.  Though they are night bloomers, moonflowers need full sun in the daytime, along with good soil and irrigation. Twining up a trellis, moonflower can climb 10 to 15 feet during the growing season.  Like other members of the Ipomoea clan, it may also self-sow but less aggressively.

Vines with Tropical Flash

Blooming nasturtium climbing on an old weathered wooden fence
Blooming nasturtium climbing on an old weathered wooden fence

The heirlooms in Jewel of Africa mix are climbing garden nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus).  Over the course of summer, the vines can reach up to 8 feet tall, covering a fence or trellis with distinctive flowers of ivory, yellow, orange, and red.  Some are exuberantly bi-colored.  And the flowers are not the only part of the show.  The leaves, which look like scalloped saucers, feature white marbling.  For a more classic looking climbing nasturtium, try the 4 to 6 foot ‘Spitfire‘ that features lots of tangerine orange flowers.

If your drains well and is on the lean side, nasturtiums will not mind. Rich soils yield more vigorous vines with more lush foliage, while those with less fertility yield less robust growth but more flowers. These natives of the Andes mountains do not favor high heat, but once established in sunny spots, they can tolerant some drought.  Nasturtiums are champion multi-taskers too. If you can bear to pluck them off the plants, the flowers are edible, adding a peppery note to summer salads.

Black-eyed-Susan are vigorous climbers that can cover trellises in no time.

Another eager climber is black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), which grows three to 8 feet tall at maturity.  The most common variety boasts five-petaled, tubular flowers that glow in golden orange with black centers, a combination reminiscent of its namesake, perennial black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).  If you are planting several black-eyed Susan vines and want some color contrast, pick a seed mix that includes varieties with flowers in cream, orange-red, and yellow.  All have the same dark centers.  A large container with two or more varieties trained up a small trellis makes an excellent summer display. The elongated triangular leaves are toothed and somewhat coarser in appearance than those of morning glory or nasturtium, but black-eyed Susan vines compensate with an abundance of flowers.  Grow them in partial to full sun, with regular watering and feeding.

Firecracker vine blooms
No flowering vine has blooms quite as remarkable as firecracker vine.

Firecracker vine (Ipomoea lobata) is another flashy performer for full sun that can climb up to up to 15 feet during its late summer to fall flowering season. The stems are adorned with green leaves shaped like elongated hearts. The flowers are tubular and borne on arching stems. Like any good fireworks display, firecracker vine is full of surprises. Its blooms are color changers, morphing from red to softer yellow over the life of each flower.  This changeable nature means that firecracker vines look different from day to day, with a multi-colored effect that draws the eye and holds it.

Top Flowering Vines for Garden Color

Vining gloriosa lily
The vining gloriosa lily has unique leaves with tendriled tips that allow it to ramble upwards.

Heavenly blue morning glories catching the first light of day, iridescent purple hyacinth beans hanging like summer jewels, delicate trumpets of the cardinal climber drawing hummingbirds in charms—these are just three of the finest vines for garden color. Each year we erect trellises and tall tipis just to grow our favorite climbing flowers. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without them.

The best flowering vines for our warm summer climate are tropical to subtropical. And even though they may not live through our cold winter, they are fast-growing, vigorous–able to reach tall heights by midsummer. Even better, they bloom and bloom and bloom offering flowers and ornamental pods in an array of bright, cheerful colors. Here are nine of the best vines to add vertical color and interest to any sunny summer garden:

Blue morning glory1. Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’

The queen of the summer climbers is the heirloom ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’). It’s large, funnel-shaped flowers of clear blue cover the vine from mid- to late-summer when many other flowers flag in the heat. (Ipomoea tricolor is native to the New World tropics, so humid heat is not a problem for this vine.) Towards fall, the flowers become even bluer and more prolific. The twining vines become thick and robust when happy, so provide plenty of room for this old-fashioned classic vine. A strong fence, trellis or pergola is recommended for support.

Purple-hued leaves and purple flowers and pods of hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus)2. Hyacinth Bean

Space is required for this rambling, vigorous, flowering vine but the purple-hued leaves and purple flowers and pods of hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) make it a summer standout. Even in the hottest days of summer this African-native vine will shine. This bean is just for looks and not for eating. Be sure to give it a lot of space to twine and roam and feel free to gently prune it back as needed.

3. Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Pretty, dark-centered flowers of yellow, orange, white or peach dot the ever-beautiful black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) when the weather is warm. The vines, though not as fast-growing as morning glories or hyacinth beans, become dense and lush when healthy and happy—offering lots of nice flowers that attract bees. The twining stems of this African native need a good trellis and out-of-bounds stems may need to be trimmed on occasion.

Creeping Gloxinia4. Creeping Gloxinia

Tolerance to partial sun makes creeping gloxinia (Asarina lophospermum) a good vine for patios and porches. Native to Mexico, its delicate, tubular flowers of white, russet red or pink, attract hummingbirds and rise from thin, twining stems lined with spade-shaped leaves with ragged, incised edges. This one is tame enough to plant in a large hanging basket or container. The popular selection Great Cascade™ Wine Red is very pretty.

5. Cardinal Climber

Hummingbirds cannot get enough of the hybrid cardinal climber’s (Ipomoea x sloteri) many tubular, red flowers produced along stems decorated with feathery leaves. The airy vine is deceptively delicate because its twining stems can reach up to 20’ by summer’s end. Expect it to be its most beautiful and flower-covered later in summer.

Spanish Flag6. Spanish Flag

The flowers of the Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata) are like no other. Designed for hummingbirds, the flowers of this Brazilian vine are borne in one-sided clusters of pocketed blooms that are red in bud and open to palest yellow. The massive vines will completely cover a large trellis of the course of a summer, so plan big. The sunny flowers begin to appear in late summer and will continue until frost.

Malabar spinach7. Malabar Spinach

It’s attractive, heat-tolerant and edible, so what’s not to love? Malabar spinach (Basella alba) is a tropical vine native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Its thick twining purple-red stems and glossy leaves have a pleasing garden appeal, and they can be regularly harvested for eating. The flavor and texture of the leaves are spinach-like. Provide stout support for this twining vegetable. Inconspicuous flowers give way to berry-like black fruits that are subtly attractive.

8. Moonflower

Night bloomers like the moonflower (Ipomoea alba) use big size, white color and fragrance to attract moths in the fading hours of the evening. The enormous, funnel-shaped flowers are true novelties best enjoyed along a gazebo, pergola or a porch where they can best be viewed into the evening. The Mexican natives are quite heat tolerant and will bloom until frost.

9. Gloriosa Lily

The tender, tropical gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba) is a true anomaly. It’s delicately twining stems and unique lives with tips that look and behave much like tendrils but its orange-red and yellow flowers look 100% lily. The tuberous roots can be stored in a cool place over winter but will not survive the harsh cold of northern winters. This native of Africa and Asia is a little less heat tolerant than some of the other vines we have mentioned. All parts of this plant are toxic, so it is not recommended for growing where children or pets might become attracted to the plants or flowers.
Summer vines appreciate good, friable soil that drains freely. Moderate to good fertility will do, so I recommend amending with Premium Natural & Organic Compost Blend before planting. Container-grown vines should be planted in Fafard Ultra Outdoor Planting Mix. All of these vines will appreciate a little food for garden flowers upon planting as well.
To learn more about classic trellising for summer flowering vines, click here.