Annual Garden Vines


I live in Northern Scarborough. Do you have any suggestions for the following requirements?

An annual vine. Some light shade. Pole trellis height 6 feet. Native to the Americas. Attracts pollinators and/or humming birds. Does not sprawl. Food vine (beans?) is suitable too but wonder about sufficient light.

I was thinking about Morning Glory, Maybe even a Kentucky Wonder Bean. Can’t find anything else.


Yours is a tall order.  I don’t know of any vines that are (1) annuals; (2) thrive in light shade; (3) are native plants; (4) attract pollinators/hummingbirds; AND (5) do not spread/sprawl.

A key issue is that most native vines will be perennials, not annuals.  If  you truly want your vine to last just for a few months, you could always pull it out as winter approaches and plant something else the following spring.  But as perennial vines tend to become more interesting with passing years, this is not something I would encourage.

And you are right, vines that produce food, like Kentucky Wonder Bean, need full sunlight.  So do morning glory vines, or you won’t see many flowers. And neither is considered a native plant. It’s not clear how you define “light shade”, but a plant that needs “full sun” means that it should receive six hours or more of direct sun each day.

I suggest searching the North American Native Plant Society’s Native Plant Database — you can narrow the search to vines that like part sun.  One of particular interest may be the Adlumia fungosa(climbing fumitory), which is a biennial.  The other vines listed are perennials.

Landscape Ontario also lists a number of climbing vines.  These include a few native vines, but these are perennials and don’t tick all the boxes you require.  For example, the trumpet vine (can take over a garden); bittersweet (you would need both male and female plants); Virginia creeper (can sprawl, needs regular trimming), riverbank grape (can be aggressive).

A couple of vines might be of interest:

  • Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata) is an annual in Ontario’s climate and can be grown in partial shade, and reaches a height of around 6 feet.  It’s not a native plant, but should attract pollinators.
  • Several Clematis varieties grow in shade, e.g., Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ is hardy to zones 4-8, so may (or may not) survive an Ontario winter.  Ask your garden centre to suggest other Clematis contenders.

You may want to do additional research and consider amending your “must have” list to include perennials or non-native vines, which would make your search much simpler.   And once you have narrowed the list, review detailed information about each vine on-line.  I like to “Google” using a plant’s Latin name, as websites that pop up tend to be those of educational institutions, botanical gardens (e.g., Missouri Botanical Garden) or other non-commercial sites that contain great information, as opposed to “dot-com” sites designed to sell something.

All the best in finding the best vine for your garden!