Vines add versatility and height to the landscape, whether they're flowering or foliage-focused, perennial or annual, grown from seed or purchased as seedlings. Climbing vines can be used to add background to a garden bed, shield an unsightly view, or supply fragrance. In order to successfully use vines and other climbers, you must first understand the best growing condition for each particular type of plant. The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia provides in-depth growing information on a wide range of vines, such as USDA Hardiness Zone, sun or shade preferences, and moisture limitations. The characteristics -- flowering, fruiting, mature height -- of each climbing vine is also explained, as are design suggestions, plant combinations, and other helpful growing tips. View a list of vines by common name or scientific name below.
plant quick find clear
Though akebia has beautiful purple or white flowers that smell of chocolate, it's really the beautiful foliage that makes this lovely vine worth growing. The blue-green leaves are divided into leaflets, giving it a wonderfully soft texture as it scales walls, pergolas, and other structures. Give it a sturdy support -- akebia can get to be big at maturity and may crush small structures.
If the flowers are pollinated, akebia may produce edible, sausage-shaped fruits -- but the vines usually need a different variety planted nearby to produce the fruits.
Grow your own peppercorns with this lovely houseplant. A vine that produces chains of small round fruit, black pepper thrives in full or part sun and indoor temperatures above 65 degrees F. By selecting the time of harvest, all four types of peppercorns -- black, white, green, and red -- can be harvested from the same plant. Black pepper is a slow-growing vine, and plants take three to four years to start flowering and fruiting.
Wait to water black pepper until the soil is visibly dry. When watering, thoroughly saturate the soil until a little water runs out the bottom of the pot.
An old-fashioned favorite, black-eyed Susan vine is beloved for cheerful yellow blossoms that unfurl with abandon from midsummer until the first frost. A little slow to get started in spring and early summer, black-eyed Susan begins to grow with gusto at a time when many perennials and some annuals take a midsummer break. This climbing plant will quickly ramble up a short trellis and is especially striking when trailing from a window box or hanging basket.
Blackberries produce succulent fruit in summer on woody canes. Beware that the vigorous woody canes can become invasive if not pruned regularly. There are two distinct forms of blackberries -- trailing and erect. They may be thorny or thornless. Erect blackberries are hardy, stiff-caned plants. The trailing kind, also called dewberries, are tender and grown mainly in the South.
Boston ivy, unlike most vines, waits until fall to put on a show when its foliage turns a bold, rich red that rivals just about any maple tree. It's a fast-growing vine that uses small adhesive disks to attach to the side of a wall, fence, or other structure. Note: If you pull the vine down, the adhesive disks remain attached to the structure. The vine also features purple fruits that attract birds, though these fruits are quite poisonous to people and pets.
If you’re looking for a tough tropical vine with lots of color, you’ve found it! Bougainvillea plants are tough as nails, which includes their nail-like thorns. These plants put on a spectacular show of color in spring on their fresh new growth. If you’re thinking of planting a bougainvillea in your garden, be sure to allow plenty of room for it to spread and grow.
Clematis is one of the showiest vines. With many types of shapes and colors, these plants look wonderful climbing any kind of structure. Bloom time ranges from late spring to fall depending on the type and variety. With proper planning, it’s possible to have clematis blooms throughout the growing season. You can even plant these vigorous vines alongside woody plants like roses, trees, or shrubs to act as a living trellis and add a “second bloom” to otherwise dormant plants.
A full-grown climbing hydrangea in bloom can take your breath away. This big vine produces large clusters of white flowers held against rich, dark green foliage. Climbing hydrangeas grow by producing aerial roots that grow into walls, fences, or even up the side of a large tree. The vines can be slow to get established -- so be patient with them. Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous.
Consider skipping the hardware store the next time you need to dress up an unsightly building or repaint a fence. Track down a cross vine and add lush green foliage and stunning red, orange, and yellow blooms to your structure instead. This easy-to-grow woody vine—a close relative of trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)—clings to most any surface thanks to its twining tendrils that end in adhesive disks. It blooms for months from late spring through summer and can reach 30 feet long in a very short time.
A nostalgic favorite in the South, cypress vine is prized for its red, white, or pink trumpet-shape blossoms (adored by hummingbirds) and feathery, finely cut foliage. Like its close relative, morning glory, this annual vine is easy to grow and blooms for months in the heat of summer. Also like morning glory, this plant’s flowers close up in the afternoon. Use this vine (also known as cardinal climber or star glory) for cloaking a pergola or scrambling up an arbor. Plant it at the base of a trellis set against a barren wall and bring the once-lackluster wall to life. Note: All parts of this plant, especially the seeds, are poisonous.
A vigorous vine with large, heart-shape leaves, Dutchman’s pipe quickly turns arbors and pergolas into shaded retreats from which to escape the heat of summer. Plant Dutchman’s pipe at the base of a trellis positioned near a porch or a veranda where it will twine up the trellis to create a living sun shade. Easy to grow and tolerant of all sorts of growing conditions, Dutchman’s pipe is a great vine for many landscapes.
This versatile foliage plant grows well as a hanging basket, a groundcover beneath larger houseplants, or trained into topiary shapes. It needs medium light and grows best at temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees F. Keep the soil evenly moist and humidity high to discourage spider mites. This plant also grows as a groundcover outdoors in Zones 5-9.
You can't help but be wowed by gloriosa lily's fantastical flowers. This climbing vine offers spidery blooms that look a bit like fireballs because the petals curve back and appear in glowing shades of red and yellow.
While gloriosa lily is a tender bulb, gardeners in cold-winter climates can grow it by storing the tubers in a frost-free place for winter.
Plant gourds if for no other reason than because they're fun. They come in a delightful, wacky array of shapes, colors, and sizes and are sure to bring a smile when you harvest them. Some gourds are used for functional items or to eat, but all of these fast, easy growers are great project go do to with kids. Many will grow up fences and trellises, which makes them even more interesting and dramatic.
The term gourd is a catch-all for several closely related plants. Hard-shelled gourds are also called birdhouse gourds, bottle gourds, or dipper gourds. Immature fruits and vines are used as a vegetable, known as calabash. The interior flesh of the mature luffa gourd has long been used as a bath sponge. It is sometimes eaten as a vegetable when immature. Soft-shelled gourds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are used only decoratively.
Full sun and well-drained soil have the potential to produce massive, succulent clusters of red or white grapes. Sink your teeth into the sun-warmed fruit and you'll quickly devour the whole bunch. When allowed to ripen on the vine, homegrown grapes produce sweet, flavorful fruit that rivals any variety that you can purchase in the supermarket. Birds are also fond of grapes; plan to share part of your crop with winged visitors.
Hummingbirds adore honeysuckle vine, and after growing one you will, too. These easy-care climbers offer attractive clusters of blooms in a wide range of shades. The tube-shape flowers look great mixed in with a variety of shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
Hops is widely grown as a key ingredient in beer making, but this perennial vine is also beautiful, making it an excellent ornamental. The hops used in beer making are the seed heads of the vine. Because the plant has separate sexes, you'll need to plant a female vine to get the hops and a male plant to pollinate. Harvest hops when they feel light and dry to the touch. Vines grow vigorously, so provide a sturdy trellis. Prune hops back to the ground every spring.
Few plants are as well-known for their intoxicating fragrance as jasmine. The small, numerous blossoms are often intense enough to fill a room and enjoyed from yards away. There are many species and styles of jasmine available. Whether a vine or a shrub, jasmine makes a great plant to gift and a great fragrant addition to any garden setting.
Clusters of fuzzy, brown kiwifruits have an unassuming presence, but once you slice one open you'll be taken with the fruit's sweet, tangy flavor and luscious green flesh. Packed with vitamins, kiwifruits offer many health benefits. This vigorous and productive vine is perfect for growing over an arbor or pergola; it will cast deep shade on the area below. It takes several years for a newly planted vine to come into production, but the wait is worth it.
Kiwi vines are male and female; you need one of each for fruit. A pair of vines will usually produce enough fruit for the home garden.