Your idea of the best vine plants to grow may not be somebody else's, so, in the list of top picks that follows, you'll find a wide variety of selections. There's something here for everybody, including vines that:
- Bowl you over with their flowers when they're in bloom
- Are grown more for their fall foliage than for their flowers
- Have great spring foliage
- Grow best in full sun
- Can tolerate shade
To increase the variety further, there's even one example of a vine plant that's an annual (the others are perennial), as well as an example of one that is a classic for hot climates (the others are cold-hardy to at least growing zone 5).
Here's our selection of 11 of the best vine plants.
01 of 11
In the first two selections, this diversity is on full display. The fact that Actinidia kolomikta is quite cold-hardy (zones 4 to 8) is reflected both in its cultivar name (Arctic Beauty) and its nickname, "hardy kiwi." This relatively uncommon vine plant is grown for its foliage, which is at its best in spring.
02 of 11
The contrast between hardy kiwi and bougainvillea is stark. The latter is not very hardy at all (zones 9 to 11): Northerners may never see it unless they travel south. This is a specimen for courtyard walls in California, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or somewhere else where it stays relatively warm year-round.
Unlike hardy kiwi, bougainvillea is grown primarily for its gorgeous flowers, although some have variegated foliage, giving them additional beauty.
03 of 11
The various types of clematis are among the most popular flowering vine plants. The wide variety of selections available justifies including two different kinds on the list. Jackman's clematis (perhaps the most popular of them all for zones 4 to 8) will be used to represent the purple-flowered types.
04 of 11
Dr. Ruppel clematis (zones 4 to 8) isn't nearly as well-known as Jackman's. But it is valued for its pink flowers. Because of this trait, it fits into some landscape color schemes better than the ever-so-dark Jackman's.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
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 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.
The vine is a vigorous enough grower in zones 5 to 8 that its leaves can offer some privacy in summer and fall if a sufficient number of plants are trained up a lattice fence, for example.
06 of 11
Aristolochia macrophylla (zones 4 to 8) is an even better vine than hops to use to create a living privacy wall because, true to its species name, its leaves are quite large. The "pipe" in the common name refers to the flowers, which are too small (often hidden by the leaves, as well) and too bland (a dull white) to grow for their own sake. A relative, A. sempervirens, offers more colorful flowers, but it can be grown only in zones 8 to 10.
07 of 11
Morning glory is the example in this list of an annual vine plant. Annuals are inexpensive, thereby giving you a nice option for injecting extra color into the landscape. You can feel free to experiment with the placement of annuals because you know they won't be around next year (unless they reseed). That can be a relief to gardeners-on-the-go who worry that they might not have time to transplant a plant that doesn't work out in the spot they initially chose for it. Although they do come in other flower colors, many prefer the blue ones, such as Heavenly Blue.
08 of 11
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 racemes of flowers can be shown off to best effect. North Americans in zones 5 to 9 are best off growing the American kind (Wisteria frutescens), for a couple of reasons.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
This North American native for zones 3 to 9 furnishes your autumn landscaping with vibrant fall foliage. Enhance the effect further by growing something with chartreuse, golden (for example, golden hops), 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.
10 of 11
That last point is also true of Virginia creeper's relative, Boston ivy (zones 4 to 8). It's flexible about sun-shade requirements, but its foliage color will, nonetheless, be influenced by light levels (more being better). But if you simply wish to cover a partially-shaded wall with green leaves during the summertime, Boston ivy will still fit the bill. By all means, consider its fall color potential as just a bonus if fall foliage is not your main objective.
11 of 11
There are many kinds of flowering vines, but it is difficult for Northern gardeners to find one that will meet all the following criteria:
- It flowers prolifically
- It's not invasive
- It's perennial
- It tolerates shade
- It is sufficiently cold-hardy
That's what makes climbing hydrangea (zones 4 to 7) so special: It meets all these criteria and more.