Whether a plant is invasive or not depends on its natural growth habits and location. Many of the species included in this list are beautiful plants. For example, the porcelain berry has intriguing turquoise and purple fruit. 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 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.
01 of 11
Algerian Ivy (Hedera algeriensis)
Algerian ivy (Hedera algeriensis) can spread quickly throughout your garden if it is given a chance in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11. It is very easy to start from cuttings, and roots will form along the stem where it touches the soil. Like English ivy (Hedera helix), the roots can also attach themselves to buildings and tree trunks.
This plant can be used as a houseplant where you can easily keep it in check. As long as you monitor 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.
02 of 11
Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)
Even though the wisterias are gorgeous when in full bloom, Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) tends to become invasive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. It can form new roots at each node and 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 this liana is through careful pruning. With proper care and attention, you can turn this into a more shrub-like plant.
One way to distinguish Chinese wisteria from Japanese wisteria is by observing how the vines wrap around objects. Chinese wisteria will twine counter-clockwise, while Japanese wisteria goes clockwise.
The Chinese wisteria spreads its seeds by flinging open pods and shooting out the seeds. The sound can be pretty loud.
03 of 11
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy (Hedera helix) can be used as a groundcover, especially in shady locations like Algerian ivy. Put it too close to a building, though, and it will soon scramble to cover it by attaching 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 it can mature and take on a shrub form under the right conditions. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 13.
The fruit can be toxic to people.
04 of 11
Five-Leaf Akebia (Akebia quinata)
Though the five-leaf akebia (Akebia quinata) or chocolate vine has pretty flowers and fruit, it will overtake your garden if you are not careful. The chocolate-purple flowers are sweetly scented and intriguing. The five-leaf akebia plant is monoecious, producing edible fruit. It can be challenging for fruiting to occur naturally; you might need to help it along by hand pollination. You can use a paintbrush to spread the pollen on the stigma. This plant grows in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Many honeysuckles can become invasive in hardiness zones 5 through 8, and the Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is no exception. The flowers are beautiful and smell like vanilla, bringing bees and hummingbirds to your garden. Birds will also come to visit and 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.
06 of 11
Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda)
The Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) does not flower as well as Chinese wisteria but is similarly invasive in USDA zones 4 to 9. A distinguishing characteristic is that its 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.
07 of 11
Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is a poster child for why you should be careful importing plants. This semi-woody vine was brought to the U.S. and introduced to farmers as a potential forage crop and erosion controller. They were encouraged to plant it until people realized it took over everywhere and smothered their wanted plants. It is now widespread throughout the southeastern United States, growing in zones 5 to 10.
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" as found on Floridata: "Mulch with cinder blocks, fertilize with Agent Orange, and prune daily." Of course, you would not want to really use Agent Orange, but you will need to bring out the heavy artillery to eradicate this species.
08 of 11
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
This vine wraps itself around trees and can cause their eventual demise. It was initially introduced to the United States as with many invasive plants because of its potential benefits. For Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), it was the fact that it helps keep soil erosion to a minimum. Unfortunately, it took readily to some U.S. climates (USDA zones 4 to 8) and spread like wildfire.
This vine is dioecious. Some plant it so they can use the colorful berries in dried arrangements. It can sometimes become a shrub.
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. You will likely need several sessions of removal. Glyphosate will produce better results, but even that is not foolproof.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
In addition to being quite invasive, poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is toxic for many people, as are many cashew family members. They contain a substance known as urushiol. These vines may grow into a shrub shape, thriving in zones 4 to 8. Plants of the Toxicodendron genus used to be included with the sumac species and are sometimes still found under the name Rhus.
The childhood rhyme to help avoid poison ivy is "Leaflets three, let them be. If it's hairy, it's a berry."
10 of 11
Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)
Porcelain berries (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) come in unusual shades of purple and turquoise, making them an attractive plant for fall color. You will need to give them some support. They spread easily in USDA zones 4 to 8, so check with your extension office to see if it is invasive in your area.
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Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
You'll usually see wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) used as a groundcover in the landscape. This has both juvenile (vine) and mature (shrub) forms similar to ivy and the habit of using rootlets to climb up trunks and walls. These two plants are in different families, though.
It has become problematic in eastern North America in zones 4 to 9, and you should call your local garden center or extension service before planting to assess how it will do in your area.
Invasive to Avoid: English Ivy. California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Pueraria lobata. Floridata.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2021. Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants.
Dermatitis Associated with Cashew Nut Consumption. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.