Vine outgrows the trellis

Some time back one winter, while browsing through the catalog of a mail-order nursery, a picture of Black-eyed Susan vine growing on an arbor, in full bloom, caught my eyes; right then and there, I decided on growing one as soon as spring arrived. But, year after year, by the time I was ready to put my wish into action, it would get late in the season and to my disappointment, garden centers wouldn’t have any left. This year, however, although it was still early, for we had barely passed the danger of the last spring frost, without giving a second thought I grabbed a potted plant immediately when I saw some for sale.

Although worried for sure about the cool nights that were to come, I planted the young vine in a large container, in which a trellis had been erected, along with some pansies around the base; just as I had anticipated, the vine did suffer some cold damage, giving me a reason to lose sleep, but much to my relief, bounced back slowly and steadily. Needless to say, the combination of the two plants looked simply lovely; blue pansies and bright orange flowers of Black-eyed Susan vine with their chocolate brown centers. Moreover, since the container is kept at the end of our driveway, I got my fill of seeing the pair grow and bloom.  

The show certainly didn’t stop there. When the pansies were done with, I replaced them with annual sweet potato vine – the one with black foliage, allowing the branches to spill from the sides of the container, and variegated Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’, a perennial. Once the plants settled down, both the vines grew vigorously, to the point that now they are trying to smother the Euphorbia. The trio combo is truly stunning.

Botanically known as Thunbergia alata, the Black-eyed Susan vine is a twining climber grown as an annual here. Given ample sun, fertile soil and moisture, plants grow rapidly and can cover a fairly large area quickly. Since ours is growing in a container, I have to keep pruning the ends of its branches to keep it contained and encourage the side shoots to grow; in fact, since the time it was planted, the vine has outgrown the trellis I have provided. Also, the plant dries out quickly, so I have to water daily, even twice a day on hot dry days.

Brilliant flowers that look almost perfect, appeared from spring onwards and give the illusion of decorations having been placed on the green twining branches. So enamored, I am now with Black-eyed Susan vine that I am sure I will grow it again next year; one thing I definitely need to remember is to provide a much larger trellis to allow the plant ample room to grow.


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