Meet 11 Species of Invasive Vines

  • 01 of 12

    Is One of These Invasive Vines in Your Garden?

    Arundel Castle Gardens
    Clive Nichols / Getty Images

    Whether a plant is invasive or not depends on their natural growth habits and where they are located. Many of the species included in this list are actually beautiful plants. For example, the porcelainberry has intriguing turquoise and purple fruit. The wisterias look gorgeous growing over arbors.

    Since they often grow rapidly and send out new shoots in all directions, vines can easily become invasive. One way to check and see if they will be problematic in your garden is to call your local...MORE extension service or nursery for information. While there are both herbaceous and woody vines, this will focus on the lianas, which are the species that become woody.

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  • 02 of 12

    Algerian Ivy

    Algerian ivy can work as a groundcover, but it can keep going to place where you don't want it.
    Image by Тарас Романченко under Public Domain on Flickr
    • Latin Name: Hedera canariensis
    • Family: Araliaceae (ivy, ginseng or aralia)
    • Other Common Names: North African ivy, Canary Island ivy
    • Native to: Northern Africa and the Canary Islands
    • USDA Zones: 8-10
    • Height: Usually at least 20-30' long
    • Exposure: Part sun to shade

    Algerian ivy can spread quickly throughout your garden if it is given the chance. It is very easy to start from cuttings and roots will be formed along the stem where it touches the soil. The roots, like English ivy (Hedera helix) can...MORE attach themselves to buildings and tree trunks also.

    This plant can be used as a houseplant where it will be easily kept in check. As long as you are monitoring growth, it can serve well as a groundcover in your shady spots. Algerian ivy could also be a good choice for landscapes near the beach since it can tolerate salt well.

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  • 03 of 12

    Chinese Wisteria

    Arundel Castle Gardens
    Clive Nichols / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Wisteria sinensis
    • Family: Fabaceae (pea)
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Usually at least 25' long
    • Exposure: Full sun, can take some shade

    Even though the wisterias are rather gorgeous when in full bloom, they tend to become invasive. It has the ability to form new roots at each node and will do so wherever it touches the ground, allowing it to spread further. Try the native American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) instead for better control.

    Another way to potentially manage...MORE this liana is through careful pruning. With proper care and attention, this can be turned into a plant that is more like a shrub.

    One way to distinguish Chinese wisteria from Japanese wisteria is by observing how the vines wrap around objects. Chinese wisteria will twine in a counter-clockwise fashion, while Japanese wisteria goes clockwise.

    The Chinese wisteria spreads its seeds by flinging open their pods and shooting out the seeds. The sound can be quite loud.

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  • 04 of 12

    English Ivy

    Ivy covered building with flowers, France Brittany Coast
    Premium UIG / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Hedera helix
    • Family: Araliaceae (ivy, ginseng or aralia)
    • Other Common Names: Common ivy
    • Native to: Western Asia, North Africa, and Europe
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Can be a shorter groundcover (about 1' tall) or many feet tall if it is climbing something like a fence or tree
    • Exposure: Full sun to full shade

    Like Algerian ivy, English ivy can be used as a groundcover, especially in shady locations. Put it too close to a building, though, and it will soon scramble to cover it by attaching...MORE its stems to the wall with rootlets. It can also wind its way up a tree trunk easily.

    We almost always see English ivy in its vining (juvenile) form, but under the right conditions it can mature and take on a shrub form. I have seen it used in wire topiary forms.

    The fruit can be poisonous for people.

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  • 05 of 12

    Five Leaf Akebia

    Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)
    Abigail Rex / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Akebia quinata
    • Family: Lardizabalaceae
    • Other Common Names: Chocolate vine, raisin vine, five-leaf akebia
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 20-40' long
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Though the five-leaf akebia has pretty flowers and fruit, it will overtake your garden if you are not careful, especially since you should plant more than one if you are trying to ensure pollination.

    The chocolate-purple flowers are sweetly scented and intriguing. The five leaf akebia does...MORE produce an edible fruit. These plants are monoecious. It can be difficult for fruiting to occur naturally, so you can help it along by hand pollination. A paintbrush can be used to spread the pollen on the stigma. See my flower parts diagram to make sure you are targeting the right location.

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  • 06 of 12

    Japanese Honeysuckle

    Though Japanese honeysuckle bears beautiful flowers, it can take over your garden.
    Image by The NYSIPM Image Gallery under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
    • Latin Name: Lonicera japonica
    • Family: Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle)
    • Other Common Names: Jinyinhua, gold-and-silver-flower, suikazura, Hall's Japanese honeysuckle ('Halliana'), madreselva
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 4-10
    • Height: Depends on where it is growing and can be over 80' long.
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Many of the honeysuckles can become invasive and the Japanese honeysuckle is no exception. The flowers are beautiful and smell like vanilla, bringing bees and...MORE hummingbirds to your garden. Birds will also come visit to eat the fruit.

    However, you need to REALLY like these features as this vine spreads throughout your whole yard and is difficult to remove completely. It can spread itself through rhizomes under the ground, runners above ground, and seeds.

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  • 07 of 12

    Japanese Wisteria

    Japanese Wisteria can become invasive in the right conditions
    Image by TANAKA Juuyoh under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
    • Latin Name: Wisteria floribunda
    • Family: Fabaceae (pea)
    • Other Common Names: Wisteria
    • Native to: Japan
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: Can be over 35' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    The Japanese wisteria does not flower as well as Chinese wisteria does, but is similarly invasive. A distinguishing characteristic is that the blooms gradually open from the base onward. On Chinese wisteria, they will all open at the same time. One way to control spreading is deadheading so no seeds are created.

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  • 08 of 12


    Kudzu in the South over growing a barn
    Wesley Hitt / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Pueraria lobata
    • Family: Fabaceae (pea)
    • Other Common Names: Wonder vine, telephone vine, porch vine
    • Native to: China and Japan
    • USDA Zones:
    • Height: Can be over 100' long
    • Exposure:

    Kudzu is a poster child for why you should be careful in importing plants. This semi-woody vine was brought to the United States and introduced to farmers as a potential forage crop and erosion controller. They were encouraged to plant it until people realized that it took over everywhere and smothered the...MORE plants they actually wanted. It is now widespread throughout the southeastern US.

    There are enough kudzu vines in the United States, so avoid planting this for any reason. If you have some, you can follow the sage "advice" I found on Floridata: "Mulch with cinder blocks, fertilize with Agent Orange, and prune daily." You would not really want to use Agent Orange, of course, but you will definitely need to bring out the heavy artillery for this species.

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  • 09 of 12

    Oriental Bittersweet

    The beautiful fruit on the invasive Oriental Bittersweet vine stands out in winter
    Image by Esteve.Conaway under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License
    • Latin Name: Celastrus orbiculatus
    • Family: Celastraceae (bittersweet or staff vine)
    • Other Common Names: Asiatic bittersweet, Chinese bittersweet, round-leaved bittersweet, Chinese bittersweet, Asian bittersweet, staff vine
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 30-40' long
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    This vine wraps itself around trees and can cause their eventual demise. As with many invasive plants, it was originally introduced to the United States because of its potential benefits....MORE For Oriental bittersweet, it was the fact that it helps keep soil erosion to a minimum. Unfortunately, it took readily to some U.S. climates and spread like wildfire.

    This vine is dioecious. It can sometimes become a shrub. Some plant it so they can use the colorful berries in dried arrangements.

    You will need to be very patient if you want to get rid of Oriental bittersweet. Once you have made sure that it is this species and not the native bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), cut and remove all of the vines that you can. Glyphosate will produce better results, but even that is not foolproof. Several sessions of removal will likely be needed.

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  • 10 of 12

    Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy
    John Burke / Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Toxicodendron radicans. You may also see Rhus radicans or Rhus Toxicodendron
    • Family: Anacardiaceae (cashew)
    • Other Common Names: Eastern poison ivy
    • Native to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-10
    • Height: Anywhere from 1-60'+ depending on if it is a shrub or vine
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    In addition to being quite invasive, poison ivy is toxic for many people, as are many members of the cashew family. They contain a substance known as urushiol. These vines may grow into a shrub...MORE shape.

    The rhyme I learned as a child to help avoid it was "Leaflets three, let them be. If it's hairy, it's a berry".

    Plants of the Toxicodendron genus used to be included with the sumac species and are sometimes still found under the name Rhus.

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  • 11 of 12

    Porcelain Berry

    The lovely fruit on an invasive PorcelainBberry
    Image by dhobern under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license
    • Latin Name: Ampelopsis brevipedunculata
    • Family: Vitaceae
    • Other Common Names: Amur peppervine, porcelain ampelopsis, porcelain vine
    • Native to: Asia
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 10-20'+ long
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Porcelain berries come in unusual shades of purple and turquoise, making them an attractive plant for fall color especially. You will need to give them some sort of support. They do spread easily so check with your extension office to see if it is invasive in your area.

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  • 12 of 12

    Winter Creeper

    Winter Creeper can be a groundcover...or a nuisance
    Image by klmontgomery under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license
    • Latin Name: Euonymus fortunei
    • Family: Celastraceae (bittersweet or staff vine)
    • Other Common Names: Wintercreeper, Fortune's spindle, wintercreeper euonymus
    • Native to: East Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: Usually around 1-3' tall, but can take off and vine
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    I usually see this used as a groundcover in the landscape. This has both juvenile (vine) and mature (shrub) forms similar to ivy, as well as the habit of using rootlets to climb up trunks and walls. These two...MORE plants are in different families, though.

    It has become problematic in eastern North America and you should call your local garden center or extension service before planting to assess how it will do in your area.