11 Great Vine Plants for Your Garden

Choosing the "best" vine plants is a subjective choice, since some gardeners will put emphasis on flowering, others on fall color, and still others on speedy growth. Some will want to stay with tried-and-true popular favorites, while other gardeners will long for a unique suggestion. Our list includes something for everyone.

In general, a vine considered for any recommended list should be relatively easy to grow, low in maintenance needs, and adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. Here is a selection of 11 plants that meet these qualifications.

Caution

Always check with local experts on the potential that a vine species might be considered invasive in your region. A vine that is an excellent choice for northern gardeners who have freezing winters could be a poor choice for southern homeowners where a particular vine might spread uncontrollably. Your local university extension office is usually the best source of information on invasive plants.

  • 01 of 11

    Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)

    Male arctic kiwi vine leaves with three colors.
    David Beaulieu

    The fact that Actinidia kolomikta is quite cold-hardy (zones 4 to 8) is reflected both in the cultivar name of a popular variety ('Arctic Beauty') and the common name of the species, "hardy kiwi."

    This relatively uncommon deciduous woody vine plant is grown for its foliage, which is at its best in spring. The heart-shaped light green leaves are sometimes variegated with pink or cream. Female plants produce 1-inch long edible fruits in fall—this plant is related to the common grocery-store kiwi. Growing to a maximum of about 20 feet, this dense-growing plant is something of an undiscovered gem for North American gardeners.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9; depends on variety
    • Color Varieties: White blooms are nondescript; foliage is an attractive medium-green, sometimes variegated
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 02 of 11

    Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea Group)

    Arid-region standout variegated bougainvillea.
    David Beaulieu

    Although bougainvillea is a not a plant for northern gardeners, it must be included in a list of best vines because it has enormous usefulness for southern gardeners. This is a must-have specimen for courtyard walls in California and anywhere else where it stays relatively warm year-round.

    Growing as much as 40 feet long, this perennial woody vine can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on variety and climate. Its growth habit is more like a sprawling shrub than a true vine, and in certain situations, it can be used as a ground cover rather than a climber. The narrow, pointed leaves are green or variegated, and the colorful flowers appear throughout the growing season. There are many different cultivars to choose from.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9-11
    • Color Varieties: Purple, red, pink, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, acidic; good tolerance for dry soils
  • 03 of 11

    Jackman's Clematis (Clematis x 'Jackmanii')

    Jackman clematis flower.
    David Beaulieu

    The various types of clematis are among the most popular flowering perennial vines, thanks to the sheer spectacle of the large flowers. And Jackman's clematis is probably the most popular of the popular. 'Jackmanii' is a hybrid cultivar created from crossing C. lanuginosa and C. viticella.

    Though it is sometimes denigrated for being used too widely, its care-free growth habit and enormous (5 to 7 inches across) blue-purple flowers make 'Jackmani' hard to leave off any list of best vines. It grows to about 10 feet and blooms in mid-summer. Of the many purple-flowered clematis plants, this must be regarded as one of the very best.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: Blue-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun; prefers to have roots shaded
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 04 of 11

    Doctor Ruppel Clematis (Clematis x 'Doctor Ruppel')

    Dr. Ruppel pink clematis flower.
    David Beaulieu

    'Doctor Ruppel' clematis isn't nearly as well-known as Jackman's. But it is highly valued for its spectacular lavender-and-pink flowers. Because of this trait, it fits into some landscape color schemes better than the ever-so-dark Jackman's. 'Doctor Ruppel' can be slightly larger than 'Jackmani', growing as much as 12 feet long. It tends to bloom slightly earlier, in early summer rather than mid-summer. It also is a bit better suited to part shade conditions. Even better, this vine may sporadically rebloom through the end of summer and into fall.

    Unlike 'Jackmani', 'Doctor Ruppel' flowers on previous year's wood, so any pruning should be done immediately after blooming is completed.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: Lavender with pink edges or stripes
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade; prefers shaded roots
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus 'Aurea')

    Golden hops leaf.
    David Beaulieu

    Many specimens grown for their lovely leaves furnish you with great fall foliage, first and foremost. Less commonly, you'll come across a vine plant that supplies most of its spectacular leaf color in spring, such as hardy kiwi. Golden hops vine, a cultivar of Humulus lupulus (common hop) doesn't fall into either of those camps. While its foliage may be at its most golden in spring, its leaves continue to be attractive through the summer and autumn, making it a top performer across three seasons.

    Growing as much as 20 feet long, golden hops is dense enough that it can be used as a privacy plant when grown up lattice-work trellises or used to cover unattractive structures. But unlike other hops, golden hops is not flavorful enough to be popular for beer brewing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: Golden yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 06 of 11

    Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)

    Flower of Dutchman's pipe vine.
    The bloom of Aristolochia sempervirens is more colorful than that of A. macrophylla.

     Stavros Markopoulos

    Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) can be even better than golden hops for use as a living privacy wall because its overlapping leaves are quite large (6 to 12 inches). And it will do this job quite soon, reaching its maximum size of 30 feet very quickly.

    This plant blooms from May to June, but the flowers are relatively small and usually well-hidden among the huge leaves. It is the shape of these flowers that prompts the use of the word "pipe" in the common name for this plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: Medium green foliage; smallish, hidden flowers are whitish with tinges of green, yellow, and purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 07 of 11

    Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)

    Blue morning glory.
    David Beaulieu

    Many species within the Ipomoea genus are known as morning glory, but the very common annual form most often planted by gardeners is I. tricolor, especially the 'Heavenly Blue' cultivar.

    Morning glory is the only annual plant that is worthy of making our "best" list, earning its spot thanks to the ease with which can be used to infect extra color into a landscape's vertical plane. Because they are annuals, morning glories give you the option of experimenting over a single growing season with the look of a flowering vine.

    Be aware that morning glories will self-seed very profusely—they can naturalize and become invasive under the right conditions. If you plant morning glories, make sure to supervise them and don't let them escape into neighboring property.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Grown as annuals in all zones
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Evenly moist, well-drained
  • 08 of 11

    American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)

    Wisteria vines in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    North American gardeners have something of a love-hate relationship with wisteria since some of the species can be aggressively invasive in warmer climates. For example, Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria (Wisteria foribunda) are both listed as invasive plants over large parts of the South, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic, though they can be used successfully in colder zones where the climate keeps them from spreading rampantly.

    American wisteria (W. frutescens) is a more well-behaved species of wisteria in warmer regions, growing to 30 feet or more and producing drooping racemes of aromatic lilac-purple flowers in late spring, just as the leaves are opening. Wisteria becomes a very large vine plant at maturity, so make sure that the support you provide for it is robust. This is a magnificent specimen to drape over a pergola, where its abundant flowers can be shown off to best effect. The foliage makes an excellent sunscreen over a deck or patio.

    Caution

    Wisteria contains the chemicals lectin and wisterin, most concentrated in the seeds and seed pods. These chemicals can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea for up to two days if plant parts are ingested in any quantity; there are also rare cases of fatalities in small children and dogs.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9
    • Color Varieties: Lavender-blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, humusy, well-drained, slightly acidic
    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

    Virginia creeper in fall.
    David Beaulieu

    This North American native deciduous woody vine furnishes your autumn landscaping with vibrant fall foliage. Enhance the effect further by growing something with chartreuse, golden, or light green leaves next to it to create a contrast. While Virginia creeper will tolerate some shade, the color of its autumn leaves will be richer if you grow this vine plant in full sun.

    These vines can grow to 50 feet in length, and can also be used as a creeping ground cover if planted without vertical support. Be cautious about growing it against buildings, as it can ruin paint and cause damage to wooden surfaces. But it is a very good plant for making a bold statement where it has room to expand, such as on a large isolated arbor or pergola.

    Caution

    The berries of the Virginia creeper contain small quantities of oxalic acid that are toxic to humans, although birds are not harmed by them. This is not a plant for homes with small children that aren't closely supervised. Handling the plant may cause skin irritation and rash for sensitive individuals.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9
    • Color Varieties: Greenish white flowers; dull green foliage turns purplish-red in fall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 10 of 11

    Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

    Boston ivy vines covering brick wall.
    David Beaulieu

    Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is a deciduous vine that is among the more versatile of climbers. It is fast-growing both full sun and shady conditions and has good tolerance for a variety of soil conditions and urban environments. Although the flowers are inconspicuous, the foliage of this plant is quite appealing—emerging with a reddish color in spring, changing to full deep green in summer, then becoming a deep red-purple in fall. In warmer climates, this plant may be semi-evergreen, retaining its leaves through winter. This vine can climb as much as 50 feet and produces clusters of dark berries favored by birds.

    Boston ivy climbs by means of suckering discs that can cause damage to structures over time. But it is excellent for covering garden walls, fences, or arbors. It can also be used as a creeping ground cover if denied a vertical structure to climb.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: Summer foliage is dark green with lobed leaves; flowers are inconspicuous
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 11 of 11

    Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp, petiolaris)

    Climbing hydrangea vine in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    If you were to identify the qualities of an ideal climber, it likely would include descriptions like "prolific flowers," "non-invasive," "perennial," "shade tolerant," and "cold-hardy." There are very few flowering vines that meet this standard, but climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala, is one that checks all the boxes. One subspecies, petiolaris, is both more cold hardy than H. anomala, and also somewhat more vigorous, growing to as much as 50 feet long.

    Climbing hydrangea is a very full-bodied plant that sends out heavy lateral flowering branches from the main stems. It climbs by twining rather than suckering, and thus does not usually cause damage to buildings. Supports need to be sturdy to support the heavy plant. If left unsupported on the ground, it may spread to form a ground cover covering as much as 200 square feet.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Color Varieties: White blooms; dark-green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Prefers full sun to part shade; tolerates heavy shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained