January 15, 2013

Growing Now: Hyacinth Bean Vine


The sprout of hyacinth bean vine plant, just days old. 

With extremely premature and unbridled enthusiasm for spring and growing things, I started some seeds last week in a temporary, disposable "greenhouse". If you have ever grown a plant from seed, you know the utter thrill of seeing it break through the soil. Of course, the proper thing to do would have been to wait until 6-8 weeks before the last frost of the season before starting any seeds, and that is what I will do for most of the plants I'll grow. But the last frost does not disappear from my part of the world until mid-April, and I had to treat myself to watching something green grow on the typical American schedule of NOW! A package of hyacinth bean vine seeds (Lablab Purpureus, formerly Dolichos Lablab) is what I chose. I first soaked the seeds overnight in a bowl of water, then, with the help of my 3 year-old's tiny fingers, pressed them into potting soil, watered them, topped them with the lid of my miniature "greenhouse" and set them on a table near east and south facing windows. That was a week ago; the photo, above, was taken today. I feel quite rewarded. 


Hyacinth bean vine is a perennial in the tropics, but is grown as an annual in areas with frost. It has pretty heart-shaped leaves and small purple flowers that resemble the flowers of sweet peas. It also bears dark purple seed pods on the twining stems of the same color. 

photo credit: Missouri State
The flowers of the hyacinth bean vine in shades of lavender/blue and purple resemble those of the sweet pea vine with dark purple stems. 


photo credit: Missouri State
Like the veins on the leaves and the stems, the seed pods of the hyacinth bean vine are also a deep, glossy purple and continue after the flowers have gone. 

 photo credit: Mengmeng Gu
Hyacinth bean vine covering an arbor.

An up-close look at the vigorous, lush growth of hyacinth bean vine. The flowers stand up about 12 inches from the vine and attract butterflies and bees. 

The vine is fast growing and will cover a structure in no time. When I bought five seed packets the nurseryman warned me that I would have enough vines to cover the entire neighborhood. That being the case, this is a great plant for covering a less-than-attractive fence, like chain-link, creating a wall of green instead. (You may read a few places that the vine grows 20-30 feet tall. This may be the case in the tropics where it is never cut down by frost, but where it grows as an annual, 10-12 feet is more realistic, and has also been my experience.)


I ran across this photo on one of Loi Thai's gorgeous Pinterest boards. The walls of this small garden are covered in what I'm guessing is wisteria. Growing plants along the fence allows more gardening space and gives the garden a feeling of soft enclosure. Imagine if the vines were not growing along this wall or fence. The garden would feel considerably more bare and slightly smaller. Hyacinth bean vine would be a perfect, quick way to create a look similar to this with very little expense. At the end of the growing season, the seed pods will dry. You can then harvest them and save the seeds in an envelope to use the following spring. You will also have plenty to give away to your friends. 

For quick reference:
  • hyacinth bean vine will grow in any soil and tolerates drought after its established
  • prefers full sun but will grow in partial sun (I have grown it in morning sun only)
  • flowers are fragrant and attractive to butterflies and bees
  • will grow appx. 10-12 feet tall and 3 ft. wide
  • also available in white, but not as commonly available as purple, & reported to be less vigorous and not as easily flowering.


You can find seeds for sale at local nurseries or at large home improvement stores. 
Online, seeds are available here or you might check out seeds offered for trade by Dave's Gardening members, here. White hyacinth bean vine is available here.

You can buy seed starting containers at any home improvement store, but lots of containers from around the house can be repurposed for the the job. Check out these ideas herehere, here.

To see more photos of hyacinth bean vine growing in the garden, visit the beautiful blog, En el Jardin here.

Until next time! 
Keri

Part II on growing Hyacith Bean vine, HERE.




44 comments:

  1. Hi Keri,
    What a beautiful plant - and not one I'm familiar with here in the UK.
    How satisfying seeing seeds poking their heads through the soil.
    Clever them and clever you!!
    Hope you have a lovely day,
    Liz x

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  2. So pretty!! It is so satisfying to grow something and watch it take life...I get such a thrill, proof that the bset things in life really are still free! Keep us posted on the progress and any tips you care to share!

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  3. HOPE is the word that pops into my mind as I scroll down these lovely reminders that we do have some color and warmth coming down the way! KERI! GOOD MORNING DEAREST! That last picture of Loi's garden is one of my favorites. I am so glad he has gifted us the chance to look into his world, for he takes such care in creating such a haven!

    Thank you for coming over to visit! AND YOU ARE RIGHT! THOSE ARE VIOLAS/PANSIES...NOT VIOLETS! What a ignoramus in the garden sense I am! AHHH!

    I hope you are enjoying the daily joys of waiting for spring but also the little pleasures of winter. BE WELL! Anita

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  4. Keri thank you so much for sharing this gorgeous flower/bean. I'm off to buy some and dying to give them a try. I love sweet peas but they aren't always as hardy up north so will try these.

    XXX
    Debra~

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  5. What fun, Keri. Yes, there is something magical about a seed sprouting. Looking forward to seeing photos of the garden this Spring. Enjoy!
    xo,
    Phyllis

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  6. Keri,
    I have been looking for an attractive vine for a spot in my side yard. This could be the answer. I've seen something similar from the nursery but I think I'll try my hand at planting from seed. Here in Southern California there are so many plant options at the nursery but they are limited and don't always offer as wide a variety as is available. Thanks for the buying information.
    Karen

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  7. That is a gorgeous vine, I haven't tried one yet , but, I think I will...

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  8. These images are beautiful!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  9. Keri,

    Thank you for the visit and words of encouragement . I am going to return to this entry when I get settled in my new home. I would love to plant this beautiful vine. Janey

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  10. Beautiful inspiration. We are house hunting and I'm collecting images. I'm hoping for a pretty garden.

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  11. Good morning Keri!

    I am barely getting back to you since yesterday I taught and came home rather late!

    You know, I THINK YOU ARE RIGHT about those flowers! THEY ARE VIOLAS! GOOD EYE! I was just enthralled with my second photo of the violet in the sugar that I thought the first photo was violets! Oh, they are lovely, aren't they? SPRING WILL BE COMING SOON MY FRIEND and back into the garden we shall go. Enjoy the cozy cottage life until then my sweet. Off to another teaching assignment this morning! Anita

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  12. I saw this growing last year (before then I was not acquainted with it), and fell in love. After reading your post, I am convinced I need this in my garden. I may even have to erect a fence just to grow this beautiful vine along it!

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  13. I wish I knew more about gardening - these are stunning
    Stacy

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  14. Hi Keri, Thanks for stopping by! This is a vine that I am not all that familiar with. It looks stunning on the arbor. I will have to see if I can get some seeds myself.

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  15. Keri, I read this post and then found I kept thinking of this post and the hyacinth bean vine... It is for sure going to be going into the garden this year! Thanks for posting about this beautiful vine and reminding me the value it can bring to a garden.

    Liz

    PS. I loved the garden blog link. His vegetable garden is to DIE for!

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  16. Hello Keri,
    Your lovely blog is new to me, and I am so pleased I found it via Liz at The Snowdrop Project! I love the look of this stunning plant and have never seen it before in England - I am going to track down some seeds and make it part of this spring's planting plan at home. Beautiful colour! Thank you for the inspiration....

    Sophia

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  17. The colours in this vine are just amazing I love the way it cascades over the arch it is just beautiful! Carla x

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  18. i just planted these 2 weeks ago around my chain link fence and I have a huge yard so it took me most of the day. Today I have all of them coming up and most with 2 to 5 leaves. I live in zone 8b and the temp is 50degrees in the a.m. and 82ish in the day. Im so amazed so far but was wondering if anyone knows of a site that may have a month by month growth photos of them. im just so curious. Cant wait Ive been taking pictures so maybe Ill be the first

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    1. Hi DeVonna,

      I'm so glad you're already having success with your Hyacinth Bean Vine. Just a tip for the phase your plants are in right now: be careful to not allow the ground to dry out for too long. The little seedlings will wither up in a day if they don't have ample moisture at this stage of growth.

      I don't know of anyone who has month-by-month photos, but as you'll soon be able to tell, if you'd like to capture their growth, you might want to try taking photos week-by-week instead. In a month's time, they will look drastically different. I would love to see your photos if you care to share them! You can email me at ivycladblogger{at}gmail{dot}com.

      Keri

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    2. sounds good Ill do that I have a friend that is growing them about 45 miles away and we have been sending them back and forth Ill make sure to start sending them to you as well. Thank you so much for replying so prompt
      DeVonnaAZ

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    3. i send u the week one photo and week 2 let me know if u recieve them i sent them from my cell

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  19. ok big question I had virginia creeper I started from clippings last year and thought they had died they only got an inch tall or so and then completely turned to nothing. Well after I had already planted my Hyacinth bean vine and they were coming up I was admiring the sprouts and noticed I have virginia creeper coming up every where also. What should I do I dont want to pull either

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    1. Good question! The thing about Virgina Creeper is that, especially in your zone, in can be very invasive. Once it has started it can be a booger to get rid of should you ever wish to remove it. If you do choose for it to stay, be careful that it does not grow on trees or structures that you care about. Here is a link to reviews of Virginia Creeper by hundreds of other gardeners: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1695/#b Their opinions vary a lot, but you will notice that most do not recommend it. As an alternative, Boston Ivy could be used if you want a perennial that is similar to the look of Virginia Creeper without having such an invasive plant. I wrote an article about it here: http://www.ivyclad.com/2012/04/for-love-of-ivy.html

      I think your Virginia Creeper MIGHT choke out the hyacinth bean vine in which case you would get little growth from the hyacinth bean vine as soon as the Virginia Creeper takes off.

      Do let me know what you decide, and feel free to contact me if you have more questions!

      Keri

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    2. I decided to let it grow together because I do want the virgina creeper to cover the fence. My plan is to see how it goes then when I remove the hyacinth vine Ill just try and be extra careful and next year just not plant it in that area. I have a huge yard and plenty of fence to plant more hyacinth bean. I chose virgina creeper last year because I didnt know about Hyacinth bean vine. I am limited because of the dry weather and extreme heat we get here. Reaching 110 most summer days last year we were sitting outside at 9 at night and it was still 98 degrees. So I worried Boston Ivy wouldnt do well. Do you think it would be ok still because my entire fence is full sun. Because honestly I would love to have it. Now another question I planted the hyacinth about 6 inches apart, thinking if they didnt all live I was bettering my chances of still covering my fence. Well of course they are all living and doing great. Should I pull some because I read they can tear up your fence. However I have a very strong fence I couldnt help but have concern. Now I was thinking of making my girls a lil playhouse with bamboo and just transplanting them to cover the structure. When do I transplant them?
      thank you DeVonnaAZ sorry I couldnt use my open ID

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    3. Hi again! I got your photos. Thank you so much! I think, for this year at least, that your hyacinth bean and Virginia creeper vines are planted far enough apart to not be immediately troubling to each other, BUT you will just have to experiment to see what works best in your climate. That's what's great about gardening: we gardeners never make mistakes, we just try different things! :)

      If you want to move some of the hyacinth bean vine to make a play shelter, do it as early as possible to give it as much cooler weather to establish before it gets really hot.

      Regarding your question about Boston ivy: last summer was exceptionally hot in the Ozarks. We saw temps over 100 degrees for weeks on end. Because of the threat of drought our municipality ha asked us to conserve water so I was not able to water as I would have liked. Most of my Boston ivy faces full West and gets the blazing afternoon sun. What I noticed was that the tips of the leaves started turning brown and curled up a bit, and we got very little fall color from them. So unless you were able to water them well during the hottest part of the summer (Boston ivy loves moist soil) you might have trouble keeping it lush looking. The growing zones for Boston ivy are USDA growing zones 3-8.

      Keri

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    4. Awesome I have just the place I wanna try Boston Ivy. Thanks for the thought. Im so glad I have you to ask questions because the lady I got the Hyacinth seeds from doesnt know anything about them either other than they were pretty and they have her some seeds LOL. I had to find out what they were just by googling the discription of the seed. Thank you so much for all your help and Ill send you weekly pictures on Saturdays.

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    5. My pleasure! Best of luck with your vines; I'll look forward to getting your pictures!

      Keri

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  20. Ok I think If my plants make it through tonight Ill be lucky its going to get down to 39. Im so worried because I dont have but a few seeds left to try again I cant believe this 2 days ago it was 92 outside. If my Hyacinth Beans live Ill be one lucky girl. I also have lil ants that are eating them and treated them with ant killer that a lady at homedepot suggested but I still noticed a few out there yesterday, any suggestions???? Please help me with any ideas I dont wanna lose them
    My Open ID isnt working so again this is DeVonnaAZ

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    1. Hi there! This spring weather has been frustrating, hasn't it?! As long as temperatures don't reach freezing, I THINK your hyacinth bean vine SHOULD be ok. If you want to be extra sure, you can make a little protective covering over your hyacinth bean vines to keep off any frost in the event that the temperatures do drop lower than projected. If you have an old sheet or some plastic, you could secure that to the lower part of the fence and make a little tent over your vines, securing the other side of the "tent" to the ground. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you! Let me know how it goes.
      -Keri

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  21. well Keri If you got my picture yesterday I took a picture of one hyacinth doing well and the other eatin by the bugs and Im guessing kinda didnt take the cooler weather as well. Anyhow Ive notice they have stopped growing they took off like crazy at first and now for 3 weeks look the same. Is that normal or should I do something. I want to fertilize them but im worried they are too young
    thanks you DeVonnaAZ

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    1. Hi! I pulled up your photos on my phone, but when I'm back near my laptop I'll pull them up there to have a closer look.

      You probably should add some mulch around the base of the plants. This will help hold in moisture in your warm, dry climate. If it is still quite hot during the day, I would probably water every morning it doesn't rain. They would probably also benefit from fertilizer now and at least once a month during the growing season. You cold use a liquid fertilizer like Miracle Grow.

      For the bugs, I would take a leaf that has been eaten and a description of the insect to a local nursery, or you could call a local horticultural extension at a university. They would be able to tell you what treatment you could use that would be safe for the plants if the bugs are still a problem.

      I hope some of these tips help. Let me know next week after you've given them a try of you see improvement.

      Keri

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  22. Yeah Keri im wondering why they arent growing some look good just arent growing. Ill get some Fertilizer and try it out
    DeVonnaAZ

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  23. Ok Keri Im going to do kind of a science project with the rest of my seeds. I figure thats the only way for me to know how to grow these best in my area. So last night I went out and took some of my plants that werent doing so good and relocated them. I realize theyll probably die thats ok. But I added potting soil along with some amender and planted a few seeds marking those with rocks. I was told by the gal that gave them to me not to add anything to my soil but honestly she didnt know. Now then I have a few seeds left and Im going to wait and plant those when it gets even hotter outside and that way Ill know what works best. Im going to go get some liqud fertilizer today. Im gonna be a master Hyacinth Bean grower before this is all said and done LOL. You have no idea how thankful I am that ive had you to ask questions. So thank you and Ill keep sending pictures of my old and new plants. DeVonnaAZ

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  24. Can hyacinth bean vine grow as a ground cover or without an upright support? Could they be planted in boxes overhanging a tall deck (no trellis or wall)?

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    1. Hi! Although I haven't tried it myself, I've read that others have used it sucessfully as a groundcover and as a hanging vine. BUT since hyacinth bean vine is a twining vine, it will wrap itself around anything near it. In the case of groundcover, if there is shrubbery or trees nearby, it will use them as a climbing support. If you are using it for a hanging vine, you would also have to keep it clear of neighboring plants or anything it would turn into a support trellis.

      I have four hyacinth bean vine seedlings growing with no support at the moment & they are doing fine, but they do tend to wrap around each other if not kept separated.

      I hope that helps! Good luck!

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    2. Thank you SO much!!!! I brought my beans from Texas to my new home in Illinois. When I tell my friends about them, they think I'm exagerating. Wait till they see my yard this summer!!!!!!!!

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    3. Your friends will be in for quite the surprise! In Illinois, you are likely growing your beans in a climate very similar to mine. I am in Zone 6a in SW Missouri, & just put my vines that I started indoors into the ground outside this week. I have my fingers crossed that they'll make up for the time they lost with the cold, cold spring we've had.

      Best of luck with yours!
      Keri

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  25. I live in SC and just started some hyacinth beans. Right now they just have 2 leaves. How big should I let them get before I put them in the ground? Enjoyed your pictures. Sandra

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  26. They will grow better outside planted in the ground since the weather is beyond the risk of frost. While they are tiny, the biggest threats to them are dehydration, weed trimmers and pets. The soil should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged until they are established. Hyacinth bean vine loves to be fertilized, so if you notice the leaves turning pale, give them a good feeding and feed them throughout the growing season at least once a month. Also, until they are established, keep their growing area free from grass or other aggressive plants that may choke out your seedlings or compete for their nutrients.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

    Keri

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  28. When do I snatch seed beans from my brother/sis-in-law's vine? And how do I store them 'til next spring? Shell them? Dry them in their pod? Refrigerate? Any help will be appreciated. I want to see this vine in my yard! Thanks, jac

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    1. Hi Jac,

      To collect seeds for next year, wait until the seed pods dry and begin to shrivel on the vine & turn brown. Go for the larger pods; they have the most seeds! After removing the pods from the vine, remove the seeds from the pod, & store them in an envelope at room temperature. (I've heard of others storing them in the refrigerator, but I've never done this. Room temperature in an envelope has always worked for me.)

      Next spring, give yourself a head start on growing a vigorous vine by starting your seeds indoors before planting them out.

      Good luck!
      Keri

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