The Best Perennial Climbing Plants

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Climbing plants are an ideal versatile way to add some character and color to any yard. They wind their way around until they can hug, claw or use thorns to stick to a surface such as an arbor, a trellis or porch railing.

Some are very adventurous and will travel all around a yard while others are more delicate and dainty and will stay in one area. They often flower and require space to climb and twine. A few are fine for indoors but most thrive outdoors. A few can be grown in containers however, most do best if allowed to have their own territory.

Honeysuckles

honeysuckle photo

Before planting your honeysuckle, set your trellis or your arbor in place. Once established your honeysuckle will take over and it will need the support. Gently attach the vines to the trellis or arbor with stretchy material. You don’t want to stress any part of the plant. Simply loop the material into a figure 8 and gently attach. Old nylons work ideally for this purpose.

Honeysuckles prefer to be in full sun however, they will tolerate some shade as long as it’s not too much. Afternoon shade seems to be the most easily tolerated. Prune blooms back after blooming and in the winter to increase flowers.

Clematis

clematis photo

This plant comes in a wide array of colors and sizes. From pure white flowers to deep purple flowers larger than your hand and everything in between. Clematis is an excellent climber and ideal for a porch area, trellis or an arbor.

They are vigorous once established and require minimal care. Most of them thrive in a good combination of sun and shade. Water as needed but avoid over watering the clematis. You’ll enjoy flowers from late spring to early fall depending on the variety of your clematis. Prune back dead flowers.

Wisteria

wisteria photo

Wisteria is a gorgeous flowering vine that must be kept under control. If you have an arbor or a trellis this plant will literally cover it in short order. You can also grow this on a porch railing, wire or wire framework.

Flowers come in a variety of colors depending on the specific plant. They appear like clusters of grapes hanging from the plant and will add a lovely touch of color to any areas that they are in. The vines turn woody and lose foliage during the winter months but bud out quickly once spring arrives.

Climbing Roses

climbing roses photo

Again, this plant comes in a variety of colors and sizes. From wild roses to domesticated you’ll find many lovely colors for these. Most varieties will grow from 8 to 10 feet in a year and produce a lovely profusion of flowers ranging from yellows to deep reds and everything in between.

Roses tend to wind themselves around the trellis or arbor but may occasionally need some guidance as they grow. Simply wind them around the trellis or arbor and be sure to give them plenty of water. Remove dead flowers and encourage them to bloom again.

Virginia Creeper

virginia creeper photo

This self-clinging plant can reach and amazing 40 to 50 feet in height, in the wild it can readily reach upwards of 100 feet. Ideal for twining around a trellis or arbor you’ll love the gorgeous color. Vibrant and lovely to look at it will give privacy to a deck or patio if grown on a trellis or lattice work.

Small greenish flowers grace the plant in clusters that bloom in late spring. They will mature in the late summer to early fall with hard purple to black berries. The berries are toxic to humans with oxalic acid that can damage kidney’s however, they are fine for birds.

Jasmine

jasmine photo

The Jasmine plant isn’t a true climbing plant however, it is readily trained to climb. Give it a fence, trellis or an arbor and it will climb up the structure. From the olive family, this plant imparts a delicate fragrance that will grace any yard.

It prefers full sun and will grow to 20 feet. They bloom in the spring after the frost and will impart a lovely color to any yard. Depending on the species flowers are delicate or medium in size.

Creeping Fig/Ficus

ficus photo

This evergreen vine has small leather like dark green leaves. It grows very vigorously and will readily cling to any structure. Ideal as a privacy fence for decks and patios as well as to add some color to a yard.

It prefers partial to full sun and will grow up to 13 feet a year. This is often used inside houses as well. It will quickly take over so allow for plenty of room for growth. It’s often seen covering an English Cottage.

Purple Vine Lilac

Hardenbergia violacea photo

If you’re into purple, this is for you. These flowers are pink to purple and have a chartreuse center that makes them cascade like wisteria. The branches will twine around anything and hold their glossy color all summer long.

They love full sun and will thrive growing 15 to 25 feet annually. The flowers are fragrant and lovely and will grace any yard, patio, deck or porch area. This plant is hardy to 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trumpet Vine

trumpet vine photo

This vine is a vigorous growing vine that can literally take over if not kept in check. Many gardeners consider it too invasive, however, under proper conditions it is easy to control. Trim back regularly and give it something to climb.

Train the vines up the lattice, arbor or trellis and keep them on track and you’ll be fine. The trumpet-like flowers are lovely to look at and lend a pretty rose to orange color for any corner in your garden.

Looking for some beautiful climbers to grow in your garden? This extensive list - with photographs - outlines some of the very best perennial options for growing over pergolas, up walls and across fences.

Photos c/o Eric Kilby, keith ellwood, Jim, the Photographer, David Lochlin & dmott9