One of the hardest design elements for a new gardener is incorporating climbing vines in their flower borders. Annual vines, like Cardinal Climber and Morning Glory, are easy enough to include in a cottage garden because they are only in place for a single season. However, perennial vines have been in the garden for decades and will get larger and fuller each year.
Deciding where to place them is an important consideration and often daunting for new and experienced gardeners alike. Some truly stunning perennial vines can be trained over doorways, up trees, or even left to dangle from hanging pots.
1. Clematis (species and hybrids)
Clematis are a classic pairing with roses, but there is a lot of variety in the genus, including some that remain short and bushy. They don't climb so much as bob and weave their way through other plants.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 10, depending on the variety.
2. Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris)
These are extremely slow to get started, but there is nothing to beat the sight of a mature specimen in bloom. Climbing Hydrangea is a deciduous vine that clings with aerial roots. It needs solid support, like a wall, fence, or even large trees, and produces the lacy hydrangea flower heads in June. The dried flower head and peeling bark give it winter interest. Worth the investment in time. White flowers.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4a to 7b, to 9b with afternoon shade.
3. Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)
This April bloomer produces spicy scented, brownish-purple blossoms that hang like pendants. Even after the flowers fade, the foliage remains very attractive, with oblong leaves, usually grouped in leaflets of 5. Akebia is a very fast grower that clings by twining. It also comes in white (Akebia quinata 'Alba').
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5a to 8b.
4. Purple Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)
There are over 400 varieties of passionflower, most of which are tender tropical evergreens. Passiflora incarnata is a deciduous species that can survive some freezing temperatures. It is native to the southeast United States. It's semi-woody with large serrated leaves and clings to supports with tendrils. Purple Passion Flower is prized for its complex and exotic-looking purple and white flowers.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7a+, can be overwintered indoors.
5. Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)
A native American plant much loved by hummingbirds and butterflies. Widely adaptable to heat and cold, Trumpet Vine has been an especially popular choice as a perennial vine for Northern gardeners. However, be forewarned, they can quickly become aggressive growers, spreading by rhizomes and popping up in the lawn and nearby garden beds.
Since they can get quite woody, their weight requires strong support. Mature specimens make for nice winter interest, although they do require some maintenance pruning to keep them flowering at their best. Flowering can take a few years to start. Flowers are orange, red, and yellow.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5a to 9b.
- Plantpedia: Browse flowering plants by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, or Origin