The Best Flowering Vines for Containers

Growing vines in containers is fun if you use the right kind of support and select the best plants. Discover four of the best flowering vines for containers and learn how to grow them.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr

For many gardeners, flowering vines belong at the base of a trellis, arbor or pergola; they don’t belong in containers. However, many beautiful flowering vines exist for containers that fill the garden with fragrance and color for weeks on end. Yes, you must provide these plants with a climbing structure, but that’s surprisingly easy to do when growing in containers.

Growing Flowering Vines in Containers

Because all the flowering vines I introduce later in this article can grow quite large over the course of a single season, choosing the right container is of great importance when growing these flowering vines for containers. Ideally, the pot you select should hold at least 10 to 12 gallons of potting soil. Make sure there’s a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot and fill it with the highest quality potting soil you can afford mixed with compost. Or, make your own potting soil using one of these recipes.

Once your container is filled with potting mix, but before planting your flowering vine, set up your support structure. There are several ways you can keep flowering vines for containers growing upright, but these three are my favorites.

1. A Tomato Cage: Purchase a metal, cone-shaped tomato cage at the garden center. I like to use the ones that come in pretty colors. Choose one with an upper ring diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of your container’s top rim. Flip the cage upside down, so the upper ring sits just inside the pot’s rim and the metal “legs” of the tomato cage stick up. Tie or hot glue the loose “legs” together at the top to form an upside down ice cream cone-shaped teepee for your vine to grow up. Pin the teepee in place with landscape pins stuck into the soil over the cage’s wire, or use a central wooden stake pushed down into the soil at the center of the pot. Once the teepee is secured, it’s time to plant the vines around its base.

2. A Ladder: The second support system that works well when growing flowering vines for containers is an old ladder or a homemade ladder-like structure made from bamboo poles. The ladder or ladder-like structure‘s legs sit on the ground, forming an “A” over the top of the container. As the vines grow, train them to ramble up the ladder. Eventually the entire structure will be covered with flowers.

3. A Trellis Against a Fence or Structure: A third and final way to support container-grown flowering vines is to put the pot against a fence or building and attach a trellis to the building or fence. It can be something as simple as chicken wire screwed to a fence panel, or as elaborate as a flat, lattice-like trellis attached onto the side of your shed or house. Keep the pot close to the climbing structure and train the vines to climb up it.

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There are, of course, many other ways to support flowering vines for containers, but these three seem to work the best for me.

The Best Flowering Vines for Containers

Now that your pot is ready for planting and your climbing structure is ready to roll, it’s time to decide what flowering vine to grow. Here are four vines that perform beautifully in containers and fill it with blooms in short order. All are best for full sun conditions and they’re easy to start from seed or by planting nursery-grown transplants.

1. Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio fonfusus): This annual vine is fast growing and incredibly floriferous. The flowers are daisy-like and bright orange. The entire plant is smothered in blooms until frost. This flowering vine loves heat so the pot will do quite nicely even on a hot asphalt driveway, as long as it receives ample water.

2. Black-eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata): Of all the flowering vines for containers, this one is a personal favorite. I spied it a few years ago growing up a wall in Quebec City, Canada and I was blown away. The most common variety bears yellow flowers with a dark center, but the plant also comes in orange, pink, white and carmine red. Another fast-growing annual vine, the hummingbirds love this one, too.

3. Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens): With pale pink to lavender, bell-shaped flowers, the cup and saucer vine is a bit more subtle than the previous two choices, but this annual vine is so very lovely in cottage gardens and in pots on country patios and decks. This vine looks especially lovely in the evening, when the pale flowers glow.

4. Purple Bell Vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineus): Pendulous, purple, narrow, bell-shaped flowers drape from the vines of these plants, creating a truly unique showpiece for your container garden. The upper cup of the flower is pinkier in color while the narrow inner bell is deep purple. The stems are thread-like and delicate, but this is one of the toughest flowering vines for containers when it comes to its tolerance of both heat and drought. The leaves are heart shaped and a beautiful green.

No matter which of these flowering vines for containers you select, prepare for big blooms for weeks to come.

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