In future postings, we hope to highlight vines with merit that may not be readily used or known. We’ll start with annual vines. Why use vines that only last one season when some perennial vines last for decades? The annual flowering vines we’ll discuss are inexpensive, quick to root, twine, climb, and go. There are times when structures are built with the intention of perennial vines to cover but look bare waiting years for the vines to develop. While waiting for the perennial vines to establish and make their slow climb upward, annual vines can be supplemented to cover part of the structure, with some growing up to 20-25’ per season. These annual vines have fascinating qualities that many of the long-lasting vines do not possess.

Purple Hyacinth Bean flowering
Photo: gardeningknowhow.com

Annual Flowering Vine of the Week: Purple Hyacinth Vine

Name a bean that would have been preferred by both Prince (or The Artist Formerly Known As…), Barney the Dinosaur, and Thomas Jefferson? The Purple Hyacinth Bean fits the bill. The only connection the first two have is the love of the color purple. As for Thomas Jefferson, he was fond of the Purple Bean, and it still has grown to this day on his estate Monticello in Virginia. 

Purple Hyacinth vine
Photo: i.etsystatic.com

It is also the bonus bean. Not only do you get a beautiful cluster of purple-pink blooms but later when the flowers fade, you get bold-colored beans. The waxy, purple pods are truly an unexpected feature to the vine. The first time I saw them I didn’t think they were real. Are the beans edible? The wild, less refined bean is used as a forage legume for livestock. Though consumed in Africa and Asia by humans, they require prolonged cooking with several changes of water. With so many tasty bean species available why bother with one when uncooked is rated as a “low severity poison”. Clearly, the Purple Hyacinth Bean has been developed for its ornamental features and not consumption.

Learn More About The Purple Hyacinth:

  • Varieties: ‘Ruby’, ‘Ruby Moon’ (ranging from lavender to white flower), and a bronze-leaf and red-leaf variety.
  • Vine growth: Once established, i.e. guided to a trellis or fence, it will twine, take hold and climb 5’ to 15’ depending on-site location. 
  • Requirements: Full sun for best flowering and rate of growth.
  • Water needs: low, unless enduring drought conditions. Handles hot humid weather.
  • Soil conditions: Adaptable for the most part, ideal in moist but well-drained soil. 
  • Cold Hardiness: strong until the frosts of autumn take it out.
  • Structure: arbors and arbor-gates, trellis, fences, etc

Save the seeds in the fall, dry and store, then plant them the following year. 

Purple Hyacinth Bean
Photo: davesgarden.com

-Rob McCartney, Horticulturist

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for more info at: rmccartney@greatlakeslabel.com


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