14 Perennial Flowering Vines to Take Your Garden to New Heights

Clematis growing from trellis
Photo: Bryan E. McCay

Add color and texture to vertical spaces with these beautiful vines that come back every year. Try one on an outdoor arbor or trellis, or try draping them along a fence in your yard.

01 of 14

Trumpet Vine

Campsis trumpet vine flower cluster
Andrew Drake

Add a summertime burst of orange, red, or yellow to structures with beautiful trumpet vine. This fast grower will help attract hummingbirds to your yard and bring color to hot, dry spots. It grows best in full sun and can tolerate drought and neglect; it actually prefers to grow in soil without many nutrients.

Plant Name: Campsis selections

Size: Climbs to 30 feet

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: The native trumpet vine (Campsis radians) can spread aggressively via underground stems and may become weedy in a garden unless planted someplace it can be contained. The Chinese trumpet vine (Campsis grandiflora) is a little less vigorous so can be easier to keep in bounds.

02 of 14

False Hydrangea Vine

False Hydrangea Vine
David McDonald

This plant earned its common name because it closely resembles climbing hydrangea. False hydrangea vine, however, has showier flowers with large white bracts that look like big petals—though you can also find varieties with pink bracts. It prefers to grow in part shade or full shade with well-drained soil.

Plant Name: Schizophragma hydrangeoides

Size: Climbs to 40 feet

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: The variety 'Moonlight' has especially beautiful foliage; the dark green leaves have a noticeable silvery overlay.

03 of 14

Dutchman's Pipe

Dutchman's Pipe
Lynn Karlin

An underused vine native to North America that deserves a lot more attention, Dutchman's pipe has heart-shaped leaves that can be as large as 10 inches wide. It has unique, pipe-shape purple flowers in spring, though they're often hidden underneath the beautiful foliage. This vine grows well in both sun and shade, though it'll produce more flowers in full sun, and it needs soil with good drainage.

Plant Name: Aristolochia macrophylla

Size: Climbs to 30 feet

Zones: 5-8

Test Garden Tip: This vine is a host plant for a variety of swallowtail butterfly, so if you see caterpillars munching the leaves, don't be alarmed. They'll soon be beautiful butterflies.

04 of 14

Bittersweet

Bittersweet flower blossoms
Peter Krumhardt

A favorite of fall crafters, bittersweet is a quick-growing climber that has tiny yellow leaves in fall and yellow-orange fruits with bright red seeds that dry well. The vine is very easy to grow in full sun with well-drained soil, but you need a male and female vine in order to get fruit.

Plant Name: Celastrus scandens

Size: Climbs to 30 feet

Zones: 3-8

Test Garden Tip: Choose native American bittersweet and avoid growing Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), which may look similar but is an invasive weed.

05 of 14

Hardy Passionflower

Hardy Passionflower
Scott Little

Add a touch of the tropics to your yard with this hardy, easy-growing perennial vine that's native to the eastern U.S. Though it's late to poke out of the ground in spring, it grows fast and produces masses of intricate, lavender flowers in summer. It grows best in full sun with well-drained soil, though it tolerates part shade, too. Hardy passionflower also produces underground runners, and is considered invasive by some gardeners.

Plant Name: Passiflora incarnata

Size: Climbs to 8 feet

Zones: 6-8

Test Garden Tip: Like Dutchman's pipe, this plant is a host plant for some butterflies. Allow the caterpillars to eat the foliage—plants quickly recover and grow back—and enjoy the butterflies weeks later.

06 of 14

Clematis

Clematis growing from trellis
Bryan E. McCay

Few vines offer the versatility of climbing clematis. Choose from varieties that bloom in spring like (Clematis alpina), or fall (C. terniflora), or anytime in between. Clematis bloom in virtually every color, and there are even evergreen varieties such as (C. armandii) for mild-winter climates. If you plant it, follow the growing instructions for your variety, but in general, clematis grows best in full sun with well-drained soil that's consistently moist.

Plant Name: Clematis selections

Size: Climbs from 4 to 25 feet, depending on type

Zones: 3-9, depending on type

Test Garden Tip: If you want to go native, select species such as C. pitcheri and C. texensis—they're native to North America.

07 of 14

Akebia

Akebia vine purple flowers
Justin Hancock

The prize for best foliage goes to akebia; each leaf is delicately divided into five blue-green leaflets, giving the plant a soft texture. It's earned one of its monikers, chocolate vine, because the purple or white flowers smell just like chocolate—though they're usually hidden in the leaves. You'll see the best flowers and growth if you plant it in a spot with full sun and moist, well-drained, rich soil.

Plant Name: Akebia selections

Size: Climbs to 30 feet

Zones: 4-9

Test Garden Tip: If you plant two different varieties of akebia, they may produce fleshy, edible fruit.

08 of 14

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea
Bill Stites

The most elegant vine for shade, climbing hydrangea bears flattened clusters of fluffy white flowers in summer. Though the foliage may change to shades of yellow in the fall, it's not a reliable pick for producing autumn color in the garden. However, it is a sure pick for beautifying a shady wall or large fence, as long as it has moist soil and a strong structure to support its heavy vines.

Plant Name: Hydrangea petiolaris

Size: Climbs to 50 feet

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: Climbing hydrangea is not as fussy as its pink- and blue-flowering bigleaf hydrangea cousins, but it's a slower grower, so be patient.

09 of 14

Boston Ivy

Boston Ivy leaves
Reed Davis

A vine that really shines in autumn for its fall color, Boston ivy has three-lobe leaves that turn fiery red at the end of the season. It's a relative of grape and bears clusters of small purple fruits that attract birds at the end of the season. Boston ivy also isn't picky in the garden, and will grow quickly in full sun or shade, and most soil conditions.

Plant Name: Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Size: Climbs to 60 feet

Zones: 4-8

Test Garden Tip: Unlike most vines, it climbs using suction cups at the ends of its tendrils. Pulling it off a wall can be tricky because the small suction cups will stay attached.

10 of 14

Honeysuckle Vine

Honeysuckle Vine
Laurie Black

If you want to make your yard a haven for butterflies, plant honeysuckle. This easy-care vine doesn't grow quite as large or rampantly as trumpet vine, so it's a good pick for smaller-space gardens. It produces tube-shape flowers in summer in shades of red, orange, and yellow, and grows best in full with well-drained soil.

Plant Name: Lonicera selections

Size: Climbs to 20 feet, depending on type

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: Some varieties, like trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) are native to North America, but others aren't and can become invasive in some areas; check local restrictions before planting.

11 of 14

Variegated Kiwi

Variegated Kiwi
Lynn Karlin

Add color to your garden with variegated kiwi, which features leaves that start out green but turn pink and white as they mature. It's a strong grower and produces fragrant white flowers in early summer. Variegated kiwi can grow in full sun or part shade and likes being planted in a loam soil with good drainage.

Plant Name: Actinidia kolomikta

Size: Climbs to 15 feet

Zones: 4-8

Test Garden Tip: Gardeners in cold-winter climates can grow A. arguta, a hardy species that bears delicious fruits. They'll be much smaller than what you're used to seeing at the grocery store, though.

12 of 14

Purple-Leaf Grape

Purple-Leaf Grape
Laurie Black

Not all grapes are for eating! Beautiful purple-leaf grape is a feast for the eyes. In spring and summer, it has purple-flushed foliage that turns screaming shades of red come fall. It does offer small clusters of sweet fruits, but the leaves are definitely this plant's main attraction. Like all grapes, it's a fast grower that does best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Plant Name: Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'

Size: Climbs to 25 feet

Zones: 6-9

13 of 14

Perennial Sweet Pea

Perennial Sweet Pea
David Speer

Use perennial sweet pea to add color all summer long to small spaces. This easy-care vine grows only six feet tall and produces pink or white unscented flowers throughout the summer. It does spread by suckers, so some gardeners have found it a little pesky. Sweet pea vines grow best in full sun and need soil with good drainage or they will rot. If you live in an area where the ground doesn't freeze in winter, you can plant it in the fall for spring blooms.

Plant Name: Lathyrus latifolius

Size: Climbs to 6 feet

Zones: 5-9

Note: Perennial sweet pea may be weedy or invasive in some areas, so check local restrictions before planting it.

14 of 14

Wisteria

Bittersweet flower blossoms
Peter Krumhardt

Wisteria is one of the most loved and hated vines. On the plus side, it bears gorgeous clusters of fragrant flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white in spring. Unfortunately, the often planted Asian species (Wisteria floribunda and W. sinensis) are also extremely vigorous growers with underground runners that can overtake a garden. The native Kentucky wisteria (W. macrostachya) and American wisteria (W. frutescens) make tamer, but equally beautiful choices.

Plant Name: Wisteria selections

Size: Climbs to 30 feet

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: Check local restrictions before planting non-native species and varieties, because they are considered noxious weeds in warmer regions.

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