Quick to grow and flower from early sowing, choose annual climbers for foliage texture and colour as well as dazzling flower colour.
A number of climbers listed here are technically perennial but due to being tender or prone to scruffy growth after year one, are usually grown as annuals; i.e. discarded at the end of the year and grown fresh from seed each spring. Those that fall into this group are indicated by a P for perennial below;
Cobaea scandens (cup and saucer vine) P: Large and distinctive greenish-white summer flowers turning inky purple with age and C. scandens f. alba AGM with creamy-white flowers until the first frosts. Height to 3-5m (10-15ft).
Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean glory flower) P: Slender tendril climber with tubular flowers in shades of red, orange, pink and yellow, late spring to autumn and leaves composed of greyish-green leaflets. Reaches a height of 3m (10ft).
Ipomoea purpurea ‘Kniolas Black’ (common morning glory): Twining climber with trumpet-shaped flowers of purple-black and showing a cerise throat. It has bristly-hairy stems and lobed mid-green leaves. Height to 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft).
I. lobata ‘Jungle Queen’ (Spanish flag): Robust selection with vibrant crimson-orange tubular flower-spikes. Height 3m (10ft).
Lablab purpureus ‘Ruby Moon’ (Australian pea): Twining, with richly-coloured purple blooms, deep, shining-purple pods and purple-tinged foliage; this is perhaps amongst the most popular of annual climbers reaching a height and spread of 1.8-6m (6-20ft).
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ (sweet pea): Climbing by tendrils with masses of highly fragrant magenta and purple-bicoloured flowers from early summer to autumn. Height to 3m (10ft).
L. belinensis: Excellent in containers as a dwarf bushy climber, with brilliant orange and yellow flowers. Height to 90-120cm (3-4ft).
Lophospermum scandens ‘Mystic Purple’ (twining snapdragon) P: Masses of deep-purple small snapdragon-like flowers and heart-shaped leaves. Height 3m (10ft).
Maurandya barclayana AGM: Free-flowering twining climber with summer flowers with white tubes and white, pink or deep purple lobes and lobed heart-shaped leaves. Height can be often in excess of 1.8m (6ft).
Phaseolus coccineus cultivars (scarlet runner bean): Delicate scarlet flowers and the bonus of edible pods provides a dense leafy screen.
Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (purple bell vine) AGM P: Slender-stemmed twining climber with a profusion of tubular black to reddish-purple flowers from summer to autumn and heart-shaped rich-green leaves. Height to 3m (10ft), sometimes more.
Thunbergia alata ‘African Sunset’ (black-eyed Susan) P: Twining climber displaying masses of brick-red to soft-cream flowers with a black centre and triangular mid-green leaves. An ideal climber for the border or containers using an obelisk or a frame for support. Height to 1.5-2.4m (5-8ft).
Tropaeolum majus Climbing mixed (nasturtium): Easy to grow children’s favourite, will happily scramble over any structure or shrubs in the border with distinctive long-spurred red, yellow or orange flowers and kidney-shaped bright- green leaves. Height to 3m (10ft).
T. peregrinum (canary creeper): Bright yellow-fringed flowers and pale-green dissected leaves. Height to 2.4m (8ft).
RHS Plant trials: annual climbers from seed 2009
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