Hyacinth bean: queen of my autumn garden

The stars of my late-summer through freeze garden are always the hyacinth bean vines. I started growing these beautiful annuals a few years ago, and now make sure I have enough growing so I can see it from anywhere in the yard.

Its flowers aren't quite as fluorescent or neon as they appear to be in these photos, but they're beautiful and there are so many of them!


I have this growing in a few places, and one of the most prominent is on the deck:

Which gives me a good chance to watch the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar-lovers:

The bees especially love these flowers right now. Is it because there are fewer choices for blooms at this time of year?

(I had a nice video of a gray hairstreak butterfly too, but my finger was covering 1/2 of the frame so the movie was ruined. I was shooting in full sun so couldn't really see the screen to notice my mistake. Bummer.)

Besides wonderful, slightly fragrant blooms, this plant also has beautiful foliage with purple veins, purple stems, and purple buds.

Don't forget the purple pods! As the flowers start dropping the pods form, eventually forming good-sized, glossy, dark purple pea pods:

I love letting this vine grow up the deck support and onto the 2nd-floor deck railing. It gives me a perfect view of the plant, as well as the visitors.

The thing about letting this grow up onto the deck though is that it's a vine, and vines like to climb...

...and they don't care who or what gets in the way. Deck chairs get entangled regularly:

Besides the deck railing, I also have this growing on a tripod trellis near the veggie garden, and on top of the pergola:

I'm not sure if I like it better growing on the deck railing or the pergola. The deck railing gives a closer view, but the pergola gives a larger surface for the plant and blooms to spread out over. Dozens and dozens of the flower stalks standing up here make it an irresistible destination for the pollinators -- although the hummers still won't share it (and I believe they're gone now -- I only saw or heard one twice yesterday).

I'd say I love both plantings equally!

The only drawback to this vine is that it takes quite a while to start blooming. I wonder if I could speed that up by starting the seeds indoors a month or so before I would plant them outdoors? Sometimes that doesn't really help as some plants need a certain amount of heat in order to really take off. I'm going to give it a try though, as I would love to have these blooms a month or more earlier each year!

Here's a nice shot of what the deck railing looks like right now:

I really can't imagine not growing this vine ever again.

(If you're interested in some hyacinth bean seeds, please let me know in the comments or email me using the link on my "about" page. I'm going to have a zillion of these things again!)


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM)  

Alan, I love your hyacinth vine! I gave a seedling (from the seeds you sent me) to my mother-in-law and it turned out to be her favorite plant of the season--even though the deer ate what they could reach.

My two seedlings never amounted to much. I don't think they get enough sun where they are. This vine is a sun lover, I take it?

sandy lawrence –   – (October 10, 2011 at 12:27 PM)  

This vine grows in full sun for me and seems to thrive and bloom the hotter and sunnier the location, even in TX, as long as I supply adequate water. Needs no other attention with the exception of a little training of the vines.

I planted seeds outdoors in January this year on the SE side of the house in two places - on a fence and on a trellis to shade the side porch. Due to our unusually harsh winter, I had to replant in March. Growth was slow but steady until warmer weather, and then they exploded. Very rewarding plants.

Janet  – (October 10, 2011 at 2:46 PM)  

I saw these growing at Monticello some years ago and bought some seeds there. I've never managed to get it to do very well here. I just don't think it's warm enough. I'll echo your sentiments, bummer!

Cat  – (October 10, 2011 at 3:31 PM)  

I've tried this bean once with no luck. Maybe too dry here. (Seems so after reading the comment above from Sandy Lawrence). Yours are lovely.

Gardener on Sherlock Street  – (October 10, 2011 at 7:40 PM)  

I love hyacinth bean vine too. Those flowers are so sweet and the pods are my favorite part. I have plenty of seeds since mine revived after the summer heat. I like the different ways you've planted them. I usually put mine in a container with some support so I can keep them close to the door.

Alan  – (October 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM)  

All: Sun, yes. Lots of water? Not sure. I give mine some water once in a while, but usually don't worry about them. The deer will strip off the lower parts, but they have never bitten through the vines.

Andrea  – (October 10, 2011 at 10:49 PM)  

That hyacinth bean has many parts which are very artistic. We also have it here in the tropics but i seldom look at them in the wild, now when i see one i will look closer for the tendrils and the pretty color venation.

Kathy G  – (October 21, 2011 at 7:45 AM)  

If all your seeds haven't been spoken for, I'd love to have some.

Kathryn in GA –   – (May 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM)  

Thank you thank you thank you - your blog helped me identify the mystery seeds I planted this spring. I know those leaves ANYwhere! I just planted them on either side of the steps leading up to our deck. I can't wait to watch it grow!!!

Looking to land  – (September 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM)  

I have this in my yard. They are indeed pretty. The pods are generally believed to be toxic but I read here (http://gardeningwithwilson.com/2008/05/21/purple-hyacinth-beans/) that the beans are edible when green and immature. Have you tried eating the young beans?

Alan  – (September 20, 2012 at 2:40 PM)  

The pods are never green -- they're purple from the start. Do you mean the beans inside? Nope, I've never eaten them.

Laura  – (December 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM)  

I am a huge fan of the purple hyacinth bean. It seems to thrive in the west Texas heat even when other plants give up. The blooms are fabulous, but the leaves and pods are lovely too.
I really enjoyed your photos!

Anonymous –   – (April 8, 2014 at 4:29 PM)  

I planted this 'vine' last summer and loved it!! - My question is -- I let it 'die' over winter -- should I now cut all the dead vines and replant new 'beans' ??

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