Why not grow some vines in your garden this year?

Each garden is unique to the gardener that develops and maintains it.

Each garden is unique to the gardener that develops and maintains it.

Gardeners use plants of different heights to add interest to the garden. They also add pots and hanging baskets in areas where plants wouldn’t or couldn’t grow.

Another dimension can be added to the garden in the form of vines.

Vines can be used as groundcover but more often they are trained to grow up trellises, houses, fences or even other plants.

Vines can be annuals, perennials or woody.

Annual vines are fast growing.

Each spring they are placed in the garden as a seed or as a bedding plant. By the end of the season the plants have spread to cover the desired area.

Climbing Nasturtiums are one of the easiest annuals to grow from seed.

Do not plant these seeds too early as they tend to rot in cold ground.

They are also very susceptible to frost.

Place the plants in a warm area where they will get plenty of moisture.

Nasturtiums are fleshy plants that do best in soils that are not rich in nitrogen. These plants will extend upwards to a height of two metres.

Sweet Peas are one of the traditional flowers that are grown on trellises.

Soak the seeds for 12 hours before planting to loosen the seed coat. Then plant in a deep trench and cover the seeds but do not fill in the trench.

Slowly fill in the trench with compost as the plants get taller.

Rich soil will encourage the plants to develop a larger root system which will absorb more nutrients producing larger flowers.

Not all varieties of Sweet Peas are equal in size and scent. Read the packages carefully.

Canary Vines are a very rapid growing annual vine. By mid summer the vine will have matures and be covered in an abundance of canary yellow flowers.

Wild Cucumber, Echinocystis lobata, is an old plant that is making a come back in the garden. The seeds need a cold period before planting. Seeds should either be left outside in the fall or placed in the freezer before planting.

Wild Cucumber plants will survive semi-shade but do best in full sun as long as there is an adequate supply of moisture.

By mid summer the plant will have filled the trellis spreading out onto the surrounding ground.

The lush, light green foliage is the attraction as opposed to the small green-while flowers. Round, prickly pods are formed in late summer or early fall.

These seed pods make perfect ammunition. Once discovered they are rarely left on the vine to ripen.

The plants will self-seed, but they are easily removed from areas where they are not wanted.

Chilean Glory Flower, Eccremocarpus scabra, is an evergreen vine that should be started indoors in the early spring.

Once established, colourful tubular flowers will continue until frost or past if taken into the house.

Plant in a warm to hot area with rich well drained soil. If planted in a pot with a trellis the Chilean Glory Flower will grow upwards adding color and height.

There are many varieties of Clematis on the market.

A few varieties will overwinter intact, but the majority of the plants die back to the ground to produce new growth the next year.

Clematis love the sun as long as their roots are kept cool. This can be accomplished by placing a rock or groundcover over the clematis roots.

Hops are another fast-growing vine that dies back to the roots every fall. Each spring the plant re-grows providing a perfect screen.

Grapes, given the correct growing conditions and varieties, do well in Alberta. They need a warm southern exposure with plenty of nutrients and moisture. Winter protection is a must as plants fruit on second year wood.

In the fall, the vines can be taken off the trellis, laid down and covered with protective mulch.

Come spring, when the ground thaws, the plants should be placed back on the trellises.

If fruit production is important, prune the vine removing all but six vines; otherwise let the plant fill the trellis.

Purchase grape vines that are rated Zone 2 or 3. Valiant, Kay Grey or Beta are 3 of the hardier varieties available.

These are but a few of the vines available.

They are easy to grow and many require very little care.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at your_garden@hotmail.com.

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