Vines form screens, feed us and add height to the garden. Most of these versatile climbers are easy to grow from seed or plants. Here are a few to consider.

Beautiful and edible

Scarlet runner bean
Scarlet runner beans bring beauty and edible pods and beans to the garden.
Photo courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) is very easy to grow from seed sown directly in the soil in a sunny spot in mid to late May. It quickly covers a fence or climbs a trellis with heart-shaped leaves, reaching about 9 feet tall. In just a few weeks, this annual vine blooms red flowers that yield edible pods. The pods are most tender when small. When mature, the pods can be harvested for shelled beans. This is a great plant to grow with kids. Sow seeds around a bamboo teepee that’s tall enough for kids to walk in and out.

Candy corn or firecrackers

Firecracker vine Candy Corn
Hummingbirds flock to candy corn vine.

This annual climber has several common names, including candy corn vine, Brazilian firecracker vine or cigar flower (Manettia luteorubra). Gardeners are more likely to find this plant in garden centers, ready for transplanting to a pot with a small obelisk, or to the ground, ready to vine up a trellis. Grow this tropical vine in full or part sun. It may reach 15 feet at maturity, but will be killed by cold temperatures. Hummingbirds flock to the orangish-red, tubular flowers.

Honeysuckle fragrance

Major Wheeler lonicera Monrovia
‘Major Wheeler’ honeysuckle blooms most of the summer.
Photo courtesy Monrovia

There’s nothing like the fragrance of honeysuckle, especially in late spring, when the season is gearing up for summer. Native trumpet honeysuckle, sometimes called coral honeysuckle, (Lonicera sempervirens) is hardy to USDA Zone 4. One variety of the perennial woody vine is ‘Major Wheeler’, which reaches about 12 feet high. It’s covered with red tubular flowers with a mild fragrance. It tolerates high humidity and is resistant to powdery mildew, a common plague on some honeysuckles. Grow honeysuckle on a trellis in full sun. You’ll be rewarded with regular visits from hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Tips for growing vines

  • You may need to get a vine started on its climb with twine.
  • Control the height by weaving vines back onto the support.
  • Allow vines to scamper along the soil to form a ground cover.
  • Water during dry spells.
  • Apply plant fertilizer according to label directions.

By Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp