The best climbing perennials

Climbing perennials can cover those hard-to-fill vertical spots in the landscape, from fences to building walls. Create a private retreat by planting vines on a trellis or screen. Some slow-growing climbers can even be grown in containers. Many climbing perennials produce fragrant flowers, attractive foliage and colourful berries that attract butterflies, bees and birds. Vines cling through one of three methods: twining stems that wrap around supports, tendrils that wind around surfaces or tiny roots that grow into rough surfaces.

Full Sun

One of the most popular climbing perennial species, the clematis, thrives in full sun but requires shaded roots. Choose from a variety of deciduous and evergreen hybrids, from the Jackman clematis with its large purple blossoms to the sweet autumn clematis, which produces aromatic white flowers in late summer. Clematis climb with twisting tendrils.

Bittersweet oriental (Celastrus orbiculatus), a twining vine, grows from 30 to 60 feet long. This fast-growing, deciduous climber prefers full sun and produces yellow fruit with red seeds.

Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), a fast-growing vine, climbs by twining. This deciduous climber produces aromatic purple, blue or white flowers in late spring and can grow up to 50 feet tall. Chinese wisteria can girdle trees and requires winter pruning.

Light Shade

The cross vine (Bignonia capreolata), a semi-evergreen vine, uses twisting tendrils to climb. This fast-growing climber produces reddish-orange blossoms in spring and has purple winter foliage. Cross vines grow between 30 and 50 feet tall.

Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia durior) grows rapidly and tolerates extensive pruning. Prized for its deep green, heart-shaped foliage, this deciduous vine grows up to 30 feet long and attracts swallowtail butterflies.

Partial Shade

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris), a slow-growing vine, climbs using aerial roots. This deciduous climber produces white blossoms in late spring and early summer and has yellow fall foliage. Climbing hydrangea can grow up to 50 feet.

Yellow star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), a slow- to moderate-growing evergreen, climbs with a twining stem. This fragrant plant produces yellow blossoms and grows up to 12 feet tall.


Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis), a rapid- to moderate-growing vine, prefers shade. This evergreen climber can grow up to 30 feet long and tolerates salty soil. Algerian ivy uses aerial roots to climb and can also be grown as a ground cover.

Bush ivy x (Fatshedera lizei), a fast-growing evergreen climber, tolerates shady conditions. This hardy plant requires support and can grow up to 10 feet tall. Busy ivy has glossy foliage and grows well in containers.

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About the Author

Based in the Southwest, Linsay Evans writes about a range of topics, from parenting to gardening, nutrition to fitness, marketing to travel. Evans holds a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Arts in anthropology.