Most of my favorite flowering vines are in the plant family Ipomoea. The most common member of this family is the morning glory, though there are about 300 more plants, including the sweet potato, and many of them are twining climbers.
It will be a jungle out there when my vines grow up! The morning glory can grow to be ten feet tall or more in a season, which made it a popular privy plant in the old days when it was often used to camouflage the outhouse.
As its name suggests, the flowers open in the morning and gradually fade during the afternoon. They will wrap their vines around anything—wood, wire, string, and even each other.
Fittingly, in the language of flowers, they represent bonds and attachments.
I love the heart-shaped leaves and sky blue flowers of 'Clarke's Heavenly Blue' but the flowers do come in other colors.
Rich, wine-red 'Scarlett O'Hara' has a pure white throat.
'Kniola's Black Knight' is a deep purple with a hot pink throat and 'Flying Saucers' are silvery white streaked with blue. There are double-flowering forms like 'Sunrise Serenade' which makes up for the fact that it needs help climbing (you have to tie it to its support) by having large, ruffled, red blossoms that stay open longer than single flowering varieties do.
My favorite is 'Grandpa Ott's'. It is a vigorous climber that has dark blue flowers with a red star in the throat. It is the heirloom plant that gave Seed Savers Exchange its start.
A few other Ipomoeas you may want to try include:
Moonflower looks like a large white morning glory but its flowers open at night making it the perfect plant for a moon garden.
Cardinal Climber has interesting, deeply cut foliage and its flowers are bright red, tubular-shaped trumpets. Hummingbirds can't resist it!
Cypress Vine is very similar to cardinal climber bearing the same red tubular flowers but its leaves are more finely cut and fern-like.
Spanish Flag bears racemes of small tubular flowers that start out bright red, turn orange when mature and then fade to yellow and finally turn white. There can be hundreds of these blossoms, all at different stages of growth and colors, at the same time on a single plant. They really do look like tiny flags.
All Ipomoeas prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil and tolerate drought. No need to fertilize them, in fact overly fertile soil will promote lush leaf growth instead of flowers. Soak the seeds overnight before planting to soften the seed coat and speed germination.
Flowering vines are fast growers and will cover an unsightly spot in your yard in no time.They are charming when grown on a trellis or twined around the railings of your sunny porch or deck. They can be trained to form a living fence or privacy screen, provide shade, or just add a wall of color. As an architectural element, they lend a new dimension to any garden. Time to think about growing up!