Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Five Vines to Grow in Your Greenhouse

Sometimes the only way to go is up. And when is that truer than late spring, with horizontal space at a premium for the burgeoning seedlings we began last winter? Going vertical isn’t merely practical, vines are lovely too.

Many grow outdoors during the summer. But greenhouse environments are ideal for them – depending upon the season. Summer, when greenhouse interiors reach hot tropical temps, is great for growing tropical vines. They benefit from other aspects of greenhouse environments—high humidity levels, and protection from the punishing winds that damage tender growth outside.

In fall and winter, when temperatures aren’t as warm, sheltered greenhouse interiors enable you to try things you might not otherwise attempt. Some vines actually prefer cooler temps, so consider their requirements when choosing which to grow, and when.

As with any indoor plant, closely monitor greenhouse vines for pests. Carefully check leaf undersides, and along stems–particularly the growing tips–where insects congregate. Once you spot an infestation, act quickly. Soap treatments can be effective for small populations, but best results are achieved with horticultural oil. Don’t assume a single treatment will solve the problem. Vigilance is best– re-treat until completely under control.

The primarily closed nature of greenhouse environments in winter makes them ideal for experimenting with predator insects. To learn more, check out Green Methods. Many greenhouse problems—including disease and fungal issues– are headed off by cultural practices, such as allowing soil to dry out thoroughly between watering, using fans for air circulation, and frequent pruning. These measures are particularly crucial during periods of overcast weather, when low sunlight can promote leggy growth. Water-logged soil also encourages fungus populations to increase.

Ipomoea lobata Like most ‘Morning Glories’, this Mexican member of the tribe really gets going in the heat. Its distinctive flowers resemble a tropical rainbow, ranging from bright red in bud to cream when fully open, and are popular with hummingbirds. Grown as an annual outdoors, it is perennial inside greenhouses.

“Passionflowers” are wonderfully diverse, and since they won’t survive winter outdoors for most of us, they’re perfect to grow inside greenhouses. Most originate in South America, tolerating cool temperatures, but not frost. Consider Passiflora caerulea, and its many lovely cultivars, or Passiflora platyloba, with fragrant purple and white flowers and edible fruit.

Cucumbers Even commercial growers use greenhouses to grow these, and hanging encourages straight fruit. ‘Chelsea Prize’ produces 12-15” cukes that resemble fancy European cucumbers in the store.

Lathyrus Annual sweet peas love cool temperatures and bright light. Plant them in late winter and enjoy their delightful fragrance spring through early summer as you work in the greenhouse. They’re lovely cut too, but don’t be tempted to eat resultant “peas” which are poisonous.

Have fun with this varied and wonderful group of plants this summer!