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.
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Akebia is a large deciduous perennial vine that can be grown in either sun or shade. In fact, it’s one of the few perennial vines you can enjoy in a shade or woodland garden. In spring this plant shows off delicate purple or white flowers that smell of chocolate. As enticing as that scent may be, it’s the lush foliage that really makes this vine worth growing. The blue-green leaves are divided into leaflets, adding a wonderfully soft texture as the vine scales walls, pergolas, and other structures. Give akebia a sturdy support—it grows large and heavy at maturity and may crush small structures.
If springtime flowers are pollinated, akebia may produce edible, sausage-shape fruits. The vine usually needs a different variety planted nearby to produce fruit. Though edible, the fruit is not particularly tasty.
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 are delicious, nutrient-rich, and relatively easy to grow—making them perfect additions to your home garden or landscape. Even though they bear thorns, the canes are attractive with lush green foliage, white blushing, and charming white flowers.
Most varieties get relatively large, so be sure you have room for them before planting. There are two distinct types of blackberries: trailing and erect. Trailing blackberry (also called dewberry) is grown mainly in the South. This type needs to be supported by a trellis, fence, or arbor to keep it up and off the ground. Erect blackberry is a hardy, stiff-caned plant that may or may not need support depending upon the variety. You can also find blackberry varieties with and without thorns.
Because blackberry is a big, vigorous plant, it’s well-suited to grow in a patch by itself. This is especially true for trailing blackberry varieties with stems that reach 10 feet long or more and need support. Thorny blackberry can serve as a fence or physical barrier when grown around the edges of a property line. Avoid planting it near driveways or walkways, however. If you don’t have the right place to plant blackberry in the ground, consider growing it in a large container to control its vigorous growth.
Stroll across a university campus and you might spot Boston ivy clinging to buildings—especially in the Northeast where it inspired the name Ivy League. You may want to use it to cover your own buildings, walls, trellises, arbors, and fences. Or you can let it do its thing to cover eyesores like old stumps, dead trees, and piles of rocks. This vigorous vine, which grows up to 50 feet long or more, cloaks horizontal and vertical structures with lustrous green foliage that erupts in shades of red, orange, and yellow in fall. The colorful three-lobed leaves (each lobe is pointed) hang onto the vines for several weeks as if celebrating the end of the growing season. Birds visit frequently to eat the plant’s purple-black berries in autumn. But be careful, the berries are poisonous to people and pets. This ivy is rarely bothered by deer.
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.
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.
Differing in color, shape, and size, every gourd is one of a kind. Easy to grow, gourds thrive in long, warm growing seasons and large spaces. Don’t have space for a large garden? No problem. Plant gourds at the base of a fence panel and let them grow up the side of the structure. Celebrate the bounty of autumn by bringing your favorite gourds indoors to use as fall decor.
One of the oldest cultivated crops, grapes have been grown for its fruit that we eat fresh or dried or process into jam, jelly, juice, or wine. Choose varieties that are hardy and well-suited to your area. The long-lived vines require annual maintenance and a few years to come into full production, but the investment of time and care produces results that surpass any supermarket offering.
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.
Enjoy homegrown, nutrient-packed greens all summer long with Malabar spinach. This heat-loving tropical vine grows with gusto while its cool-temperature-loving counterparts are turning bitter and heading for the compost pile. Thanks to heart-shape dark green leaves that taste like spinach and provide calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, this vine is both nutritious and decorative. Grow it on a sturdy trellis, and it will provide structure in the garden along with bounty for the table. It also thrives in large containers or hanging baskets.