Climbing vines are more than just pretty plants to add to your garden. They add a decorative natural touch to fences, trellises, doorways, or pergolas. These plants come in annual and perennial varieties, so you can try them for a year or pick a permanent addition to your garden. Some are slow-growing and easy for beginners to care for, while others are more aggressive and require consistent monitoring for advanced gardeners. To help you choose the perfect option, take a look at our favorite 10 climbing vines for your garden.
Caring For Climbing Plants
Though you need to consider growing conditions and care tips for all plants, climbing vines have specific requirements other growers don’t. Before adding any to your garden, check out the following sections to ensure you can accommodate their needs.
Like other plants, each climbing vine will have specific growing conditions it prefers. These include lighting, soil, fertilizer, temperature, humidity, and wind exposure. Of course, there are other issues to consider.
For instance, some climbers prefer lots of sun for their tops but shade for their roots to help maintain moisture. Some like rich soil when starting and poor soil after they’ve matured. You may also want to consider the aesthetics of the plant, like its leaf and flower coloring and the timing of the blooms.
It’s no surprise that climbing vines will need vertical space to grow, but some need more than others. A fast climber may overtake a trellis or fence in no time, requiring regular pruning. Slow climbers take longer to spread out, so you can give them more leeway and freedom to grow as they like. The root system and plant base should also be considered since some prefer more space than others.
Not every climbing vine latches onto its support the same way. Some produce twining vines, leaves, or petioles that curl around their support. Other climbers use thorns, hooks, or suckers to latch onto whatever they can. The larger the plant grows, the heavier it becomes, requiring a support that can handle the weight without cracking or breaking. Pruning can prevent overburdening the support, so keep an eye on the climber to be sure it doesn’t get too far out of hand.
Supports come in many styles, so you can plant your climber next to a fence or pergola and let it attach and wind around them as it sees fit. You can also add some trellis to your yard or garden to create a natural barrier between garden sections or as an accent piece. Some vines may need training to attach to the support using clips, ties, or wires. Use these to encourage the stems to grow in a particular direction or help the vines reach new heights.
Climbing Plant Options
With so many climbing plants to pick from, it’s tricky to choose the perfect option. To help, we’ve selected several annuals and perennials with varying colors, heights, and requirements for you to consider. No matter your growing location, there’s a couple of beautiful plants on our list for you.
About 300 species of clematis are available, from compact dwarf varieties to more robust climbers. The flowers vary in color, so you can pick white, red, purple, or pink options with single or double blooms. This perennial likes winding around a trellis, though you may need to use wires at first to help them take hold.
Clematis prefers full sun for the most part, though it likes its feet shaded, so add a layer of mulch to protect the roots. It also likes well-draining soil and consistent moisture. Fertilize the climbing vine during planting and early spring before the buds form.
2. Purple-leaf Grape
Few climbing vines are as eye-catching as the purple-leaf grape. The foliage on this deciduous climber is green in the spring, then slowly turn burgundy, and finishes the year a bright crimson. The green flowers are short-lived, making way for pea-sized grapes with bitter skin but sweet insides.
The purple-leaf grape likes well-draining soil with occasional watering, partial to full sun, and plenty of air circulation. The plant can grow about 30 feet tall and needs no pruning, though you can trim away unruly tendrils to keep it compact if space is limited.
3. Chocolate Vine
Also known as Akebia, the chocolate vine’s common name is due to the delicate scent and coloring of the purplish-brown flowers. Also produced on the vines are clusters of five oval-shaped leaves and kiwi-like fruits that are edible but not overly tasty. Chocolate vines grow fast, with a 1-2 foot spread and heights of 30 feet.
Akebia prefers a mix of sandy and loamy, well-draining soil with a neutral pH level and lots of organic matter. It tolerates drought, requiring only an inch or so of water each week, and isn’t fond of humidity. Chocolate vines like to climb but won’t cling to surfaces, so training them with wire is a must in its early stages.
Cypress Vine is an annual that brings a touch of Christmas to your yard all summer long. The climbing vine features delicate fern-like foliage accented with lovely star-shaped red flowers. It can be somewhat aggressive, so keep an eye on straying vines. It also self-seeds, so even those in colder climates will see new sprouts every spring for continuous growth.
To keep cypress vine happy, its soil should be fertile, well-draining, and evenly damp. It requires full sun for those blooms to appear, which then attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. A balanced fertilizer ensures healthy growth throughout the year.
5. Sweet Pea
Sweet peas originated in Italy and the Mediterranean islands and are a favorite among gardeners due to the cottage feel these vines elicit. They grow well on a trellis or fence, reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet. The flowers are blue, lavender, red, pink, or white, depending on the variety, most of which emit an appealing scent. Despite its name, sweet pea is toxic, so keep kids and pets away.
Moist, well-draining, slightly alkaline soil is best for sweet pea climbers. They also like full sun but may prefer afternoon shade in warmer climates. For more flowers, add fertilizer with high phosphorus or potassium levels and minimal nitrogen every month.
For those with minimal space looking for the perfect climbing vine for container planting, mandevilla is a fantastic option. The climber has a maximum height of 8 feet and is low maintenance for easy care. As a tropical plant, it features large clusters of showy five-petaled flowers in shades of red, pink, white, and apricot.
For a thriving plant, mandevilla requires rich, lightweight soil mixed with compost or other organic matter, regular moisture, and full sun. It loves heat but dies in frosty weather, so those living in cold climates may need to overwinter it indoors.
7. Dutchman’s Pipe
Dutchman’s pipe is a woody, deciduous vine that grows fast, reaching heights of 30 feet after maturity. Though it sports unique flowers resembling small pipes colored purple, yellow, or green, gardeners favor this plant for its thick foliage. The density of the leaves creates a natural privacy screen or covers unsightly fences and other unattractive pieces in your yard.
Due to the size and growth of Dutchman’s pipe, it needs lots of space and sturdy support. It requires full sun for plentiful blooms. Rich, well-draining soil kept evenly moist is also a must. Add some fertilizer or compost each spring to give it a nutrient boost.
Though technically a deciduous shrub, common honeysuckle has vine-like tendencies, reaching heights of 10 to 20 feet. The leaves are varying shades of green and blue with creamy edges and variegation in spring and summer, and hot pink coloring in the fall. The flowers are colorful as well, starting as pink buds before becoming purple flowers with ivory interiors. These have a lovely nocturnal scent that attracts pollinators to your yard.
To keep honeysuckle happy, plant it in fertile, well-draining soil and keep it moist throughout the growing season. Dappled sunlight is best, especially in warmer climates, since this climbing vine prefers cooler temperatures.
9. Climbing Nasturtium
For those looking for an easy plant that actually thrives when ignored, climbing nasturtium is a delightful option. They are a favorite of aphids, drawing these harmful insects away from your other plants. The trailing vines can be trained to climb a trellis or hung over doorways and fences for decorative accents.
To care for climbing nasturtium, give it full sun and moderate moisture. Rich soil produces an abundance of foliage, while poor, well-draining soil encourages more of the vine’s colorful blooms. Nasturtium needs little to no fertilizer unless the soil is extremely poor. They don’t like cold, and die in freezing temperatures, but self-seed, so they may return in the spring.
10. Climbing Roses
Climbing roses are tricky to grow, especially if you’re hoping for an abundance of flowers. With a bit of work training the plant to climb a trellis, you’ll be rewarded with an array of elegant blooms. Depending on the variety, your climbing roses can be pink, red, purple, cream, or yellow with varying scents.
For dense, full rose climbers, plant them in rich, fertile, loamy soil that drains well. These climbers also need at least 6 hours of full sun daily, though they’ll need some shade in areas with high summer temperatures. Consistent moisture without overwatering and a balanced fertilizer for high energy is also crucial for a thriving climbing rose.
Climbing Vines For Your Garden
When choosing plants to add an aesthetic appeal to your garden, few are as versatile as climbing vines. Depending on the climbers you choose, they can be trained to climb a trellis, cover a fence, or create a lovely natural wall or doorway. With the 10 options we’ve described above, you can pick the perfect option to match the space you have available, as well as your taste and experience level.