Annual climbers are the perfect way to quickly cover up an unattractive fence or wall, or to block out your neighbours, without having to wait years for a “standard” hedge to grow.
Started early in the spring, a number of highly attractive plants will grow to surprisingly dimensions by mid-summer, offering not just attractive leaf colour, but also a profusion of brightly-coloured flowers. Here are some of the best…
Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susan, Latin name Thunbergia alata, is a half-hardy annual. It may survive in a cool greenhouse over winter, but if left outside it will typically die off during the winter.
Black Eyed Susan is one of the most tropical-looking climbers available, with tons of lush, green foliage. They prefer a sunny, well-drained position where they will produce an astonishing number of small bright orange flowers, each with a black centre (hence the name).
Some authorities suggest that growing the plant in a pot may encourage them to flower, with pot-bound specimens giving the very best displays of all.
Cup and Saucer Vine
Cobaea scandens produces rich purple flowers that can measure 2″ or so across; quite a show when planted in a sunny south-facing area.
The seeds themselves are toxic, so take care when handling them, and they can take a month or more to germinate so you’ll need to be patient. For best results, soak them in water for 24 hours before planting them, as this “soaking” seems to help them germinate more reliably.
That said, the appearance of the “cup and saucer” flowers, combined with their sweet, subtle scent makes them a welcome addition to any garden.
The humble nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is possibly the easiest of all the plants listed here to grow.
The seeds germinate readily, with seedlings growing rapidly. Apart from their appeal to many garden insects, getting your nasturtiums established is rarely a problem. With their bright orange, red or yellow flowers, and unusually-scented foliage, nasturtiums happily ramble over and through anything in their way.
This plant is also self-seeding, meaning that in spring you’ll find tons of fresh seedlings growing without any effort on your part. These can easily be moved around the garden, giving you complete freedom as to where your blooms will appear this year.
Purple Bell Vine
These are produced in huge volumes on plants that have the right level of sunshine and warmth.
Grow this species against a south-facing wall or fence and the abundant foliage will rapidly cover anything in it’s way.
Pleasantly, this annual climber seems of little interest to bugs and pests, meaning that very little ongoing maintenance will be necessary.
With their long spikes of flowers, moving from red through orange to yellow, there’s no denying that Mina lobata is a highly attractive plant.
Climbing to around six feet in height in a single season, this is one annual climber that everyone should try.
That said, be aware that like some of the other options here, the seeds can be a little fiddly to get started. I would suggest soaking them for 24 hours before planting, and keeping the compost warm until germination occurs.
While Lathyrus odoratus may not produce the same volume of lush foliage that many of the other flowers listed here do, most sweet peas are grown more for their attractive flowers and heady scent.
So popular have sweet peas become over the years that a dizzying range of varieties can now be purchased.
Start them early in the season, protecting them from slugs and snails (who have an unhealthy passion for them) and plant out when the coldest weather is passed.
Pleasantly, sweet peas can be quite free-seeding. This means that while the plants will normally die back in the Autumn, you will often find new seedlings appearing in the same next the following spring.
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