About Hardy Climbing Plants

Written by erin maurer
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About Hardy Climbing Plants
Clematis vines fill the garden with colourful blossoms. (Clematis-1 image by betweenthelines from Fotolia.com)

Climbing plants, including flowering vines, add visual interest to fences, trellises, arbors and even the walls of the home. Many types of climbing vines are hardy throughout the United States. When planning a climbing garden, choose plants well suited to your United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone. This helps ensure the vines are hardy for a specific location.

Climbing Hydrangea

The climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomola) fills the landscape with flower clusters. This climbing vine variety is native to Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In the United States, climbing hydrangea thrives in USDA zones 4 through 8. For best results, plant this climber in a shady location in moisture-rich soil, recommends the Missouri Botanical Garden. Climbing hydrangea requires a sturdy support system and reaches heights between 30 and 50 feet. This vine's clusters of white flowers bloom from May to July. As the vine grows, it produces lateral branches in addition to vertical branches, creating tiers of foliage and flowers up its support system.

Virginia Creeper

The Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a woody, deciduous vine native to the United States. Depending on its support structure, the Virginia creeper reach heights between 3 and 40 feet. This vine is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, making it well suited to many landscapes throughout the country. It climbs up its support structure by producing tendrils gripping on to the structure. Plant this vine in moist, well-drained soils. It adapts well from to sunny or partially shaded locations. Virginia creeper is closely related to the grape and produces a bluish-purple fruit throughout the summer. It flowers in early spring with small, white or green flower clusters, but its flowers are not showy. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends a simple trick to distinguish the Virginia creeper from poison ivy --- he creeper vine produces leaves clustered in groups of five, while poison ivy is grouped in threes.

American Wisteria

American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is a high-climbing, woody vine native to the United States. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and reaches a mature height between 25 to 30 feet. Wisteria is a heavy vine requiring a sturdy structure for support. It is well suited to growing on arbors. Wisteria is known for its large, colourful flowers, which grow on new wood and reach a length between 4 and 6 inches. Most often, wisteria flowers are lavender, but occasionally bloom in white, pink or darker purple shades. Its flowers bloom in May and June. Wisteria grows best when planted in moist, neutral soils facing south or southwest. In the wild, wisteria is most often found growing up the sides of riverbanks.


There are two types of hardy clematis vines well to Northern United States climates. Downy clematis (Clematis macropetala) and small-leaved, Alpine clematis (Clematis alpina) thrive throughout much of the United States. Downy clematis is best suited to USDA zones 3 through 8, while Alpine clematis grows best in USDA zones 4 through 9. Both types grow well in full sun to partially shaded locations in moist, well-drained soils. The biggest difference between the two clematis types comes with their flower shapes. Downy clematis features nodding, lantern-shaped, lavender blooms beginning in April. Alpine clematis features smaller, bell-shaped flowers, which bloom in several shades of blue, purple and pink. Both types of flowers give away to attractive seed heads in the summer.

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