Want vertical interest? Color? Elegance? Whimsy? Vines have it all! They shimmy up poles and curlicue around strings. They twist and turn and keep us guessing. Go away for a week and come back to a glorious, melon-laden trellis, a wall of heavenly blue or a pole bean gone wild!

There’s just something about vines that tickles the creative fancy. Challenge a gardener to come up with fun ways to prop up a climber, and the ideas spring forth like runner beans in high summer.

Here’s a short list of ways to incorporate annual vines in your garden:

  • Create a privacy screen in a single season. Just stretch netting between two sturdy poles and sow vegetable or flower seeds at the base. The bonus is better air circulation than a fence can offer.
  • Cast a dappled shade. Nothing is more romantic than an arbor planted with fragrant moonflower vine.
  • Make the most of your growing space. Want to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, or pole beans on an apartment balcony? No problem!
  • Make an inspired garden statement. The trellis is the art; the annual vine, a brilliant embellishment.

What Types of Plants Can I Trellis?

If a vine climbs with tendrils, netting with 4- to 6-in. openings, brushy branches or string will offer something for the curlicues to grab onto.

Twining vines, such as morning glories and pole beans, will twist around anything that is in their path: a pole, a wire or a convenient shrub. Sprawling tomatoes and tomatillos will twine around string given the opportunity, but benefit from prompting and pruning to get them moving in the right direction.

The possibilities are endless. Solve two problems at once by chopping down rampant bamboo and making a pea trellis. Oriental bittersweet can strangle saplings, and wild grape can damage trees. But, removed from the forest and incorporated into an arbor—magnificent!

If formality is more your style, imagine your sprawling tomato plant made beautifully submissive within an elegant tuteur. Thrift shop trellises, crafted from ladders, bicycle wheels or pieces of furniture, will make a strong statement in any garden.

What makes any trellis work is, of course, the plants. Choose from a great variety of annual vines for an interesting garden element.

A few fast edible and ornamental vines you can grow from seed:

Tendril climbers: garden peas, cucumbers, gourds, melons, mini-pumpkins, winter squash, sweet peas, love-in-a-puff, cup and saucer vines

Twining vines: pole beans, tomatoes, morning glory, black-eyed susan vine, cardinal climber, cypress vine, climbing nasturtium, hyacinth bean vine, moonflower vine, scarlet runner bean, Spanish flag