Favorite garden hack for a climbing vine: Use a Slinky as a trellis in the garden!
I’m sharing my favorite flowering summer vine and a creative way to help it climb that I discovered, with a Slinky!
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Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) is a favorite easy-to-grow flowering summer annual and an excellent climber for a trellis or fence. No relation to Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), it climbs 8 to 10 feet in a single growing season, and up to 20 feet in frost-free areas, Zones 10 and 11.
This is my fourth summer with Black-eyed Susan vine. It blooms all summer until frost, which is typically November here in North Carolina. Last year I planted it to climb up a ladder as a trellis.
The wood ladder lived a hard 4 years in the garden and was repaired twice before finally being laid to rest this spring.
This year I planted the vine on a 3 foot tuteur and trained it to climb up a birdhouse pole next to the tuteur with the help of a Slinky.
The Slinky hack is one I discovered in Garden Gate Magazine in the readers’ tips section. Incidentally, if you have a garden tip, you can submit to Garden Gate, and if published, receive $25. You can also ask questions and get help with a design challenge.
My birdhouse pole is 6 feet tall and 2 inches in diameter. I lifted the birdhouse from the pole (after I made sure no one was residing in the birdhouse) and slid the Slinky over the pole.
The Slinky stretched easily back up to the top of the pole. I bent the end of the Slinky with pliers to wrap around a wood screw I placed on the base of the birdhouse. For added insurance, I added a cable tie attaching the end of the slinky to the screw and cut off the extra length.
I used cable ties at the bottom of the pole to secure the Slinky to keep from springing back up.
What I like about this Slinky trellis is that the silver metal disappears to the eye while the vine is growing.
I guided the Black-eyed Susan vine over to the Slinky and watched it climb around and through the Slinky.
Black-eyed Susan vine is long blooming, heat tolerant and doesn’t require deadheading. The most common varieties are yellow or orange, but you can find it available in other colors by seed.
It prefers full to part sun, with afternoon shade ideal here in the hot, sunny South. Water it until established and then weekly during the heat of the summer and you’ll be rewarded with blooms all summer long until frost! Blooms slow during the heat of summer, but pick back up in the fall.
I added the Slinky the end of June and the Black-eyed Susan vine climbed the 6 feet to the top of the pole in about 4 weeks time.
You can also see a pink Morning Glory that volunteered and is intertwined with the Black-eyed Susan.
A pair of Carolina Wrens have since moved in and said they like curb appeal and landscaping the vine offers.
The garden has been thirsty and benefiting from our much-needed 3 inches of rain we received last week.
Mother Nature has been fickle over the last couple of weeks, with areas around us flooding while we wait for rain headed our way and then watch the system magically part like the Red Sea and go around us, leaving us dry.
I was happy to have a break from lugging the hose and have some relief from the heat.
We’re heating back up this week with the heat index in 100+ degree range with the humidity.
Some of the Limelight Hydrangea blooms are the size of footballs!
More than 300 million Slinkys have been sold since its introduction in 1945.
I found my Slinky on Amazon for $3.
Here’s a little history of the Slinky. I apologize in advance if you can’t get the jingle out of your head. ;)
“It’s Slinky, It’s Slinky. The favorite of girls and boys. Everyone wants a Slinky.”
Chalking It Up to Bees and Flowers Around the Potting Shed, here.
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