Green with Reene

by Irene Ecklund

Clematis and Hyacinth Bean Vines are two of my favorite vines for growing on fences, trellis, bushes or trees. Clematis is a perennial, the Hyacinth Bean vine is an annual. Clematis comes in many cultivars. Several of my favorites are Jackmani, Nelly Moser, The President, Armandii, and Sweet Autumn. These seem to be the easiest to grow and are resistant to clematis wilt. Clematis prefer alkaline soil. Dig the hole 18 inches deep and wide and work in lots of moisture holding compost. Set plants deep so the first two sets of leaf nodes are underground. This encourages plants to send up more stems making a thicker plant. Mulching is very important with Clematis. Head in the sun and feet in the shade is an old Clematis advice. A four-inch layer of mulch keeps the roots just as cool and moist as shade does. Fertilize once a year with an all purpose, granulated fertilizer such as 10-10-10 right after pruning. Do not prune in the fall. Clematis can bloom without pruning. However, proper pruning and timing is important to the different cultivars.

Hyacinth Bean Vine is an annual vine and has to be replanted each spring. Start them indoors and transplant to your trellis or mailbox or fence when danger of frost is past. Fence them in for the first few weeks to protect them from rabbits. I plant a lot of them close together so that I get a beautiful display. Some of them seem to disappear as the season begins, but they are so gorgeous with flowers of pink and purple and the bean pods are spectacular in mass groupings of dark purple. I grow them on my mailbox. Every year people stop to ask, “What are those beautiful flowers?” Save your seeds from the pods in the late fall as they are expensive to purchase. This is such a fun vine; I would like to see more people growing them. I give away lots of these seeds in the winter to my gardener friends. The seeds are very pretty and unusual. Try them!