20 Best Climbing Plants for Your Garden
Whether you have a tiny balcony garden or a big, rambling yard filled with flowers of all types, there’s always room to grow up. Plants that grow vertically add interest, provide screening and privacy, and offer beautiful options for your garden’s visiting pollinators. So what makes for the best climbing plants for your space? Glad you asked. Here’s what you should know—as well as a roundup of our favorites to try.
Vines or climbers may be either annual or perennial; if you choose a perennial type, which will return for many years, make sure it’s suited to survive winters in your USDA Hardiness Zone (find yours here). Many annuals grow well from seed, though it’s a little late in the season to start most of them now. That said, autumn is a great time to plant perennials because the temperatures are milder and rainfall more plentiful. Just make sure any perennial is in the ground at least 6 weeks before freezing weather arrives in your area to ensure your plant’s roots get established. Also, make sure you install a trellis or other support when planting so you won’t disturb the plant later.
With those tips in mind, you’re ready to start planning out your greenery. Here are our favorite climbing plants for every garden:
1. Morning Glory
This old-fashioned annual is easy to grow from seed; soak the seeds overnight to help them germinate more quickly, then sow in spring after all danger of frost is past. Its pretty pink, purple, lavender, white or pinwheel-colored flowers are amazing twining up a mailbox or fence from mid-summer onward.
2. Black-Eyed Susan Vine
This cheery annual vine can get really big, up to 3 feet! It’s annual in most of the country, but in warm climates, it will bloom year after year. Give it plenty of space and a large trellis.
The sweet scent of honeysuckle is irresistible to pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds. Make sure you buy the non-invasive types, Lonicera sempervivens or Lonicera pericylmenum, not the invasive Japanese type (Lonicera japonica), which will take over your garden. This perennial is a great addition for color and scent, but give it a sturdy trellis.
This perennial is a lovely addition to any garden because it’s available in hundreds of varieties. Read the label to be sure what you’re getting because bloom times vary from spring to fall, while some prefer more shade, others more sun.
This stunning plant with tropical flair keeps blooming all summer long, and it loves the heat. Give it afternoon shade in the hottest climates. Mandevilla is considered annual in most of the country but can survive year-round in hot climates.
6. Moon Flower
A relative of morning glory, this annual blooms later in the day. Plant it where you can enjoy its luminous white flowers as you sit out in the evenings. Soak the seeds overnight to jumpstart germination.
7. Cypress Vine
This annual has scarlet, hot pink or pure white flowers and eye-catching fern-like foliage. It’s actually an heirloom type of morning glory, so it readily climbs anything in its path.
9. Sweet Pea
Early spring is the time to plant these pretty flowers. They prefer cool weather, and most are annuals, though you can find some heirloom varieties that are perennial. Read the plant tag or description to know what you’re buying.
10. Star Jasmine
This warm climate perennial has delicate white flowers with incredible scent. It’s a fast grower, so give it a strong trellis to climb.
11. Chocolate Vine
Chocolate vine has interesting leaves and purple flowers in early summer. Keep it in a large pot to contain its growth because it is considered invasive in some parts of the country.
12. Virginia Creeper
If you’re looking for a fast climber with bright red autumn color, Virginia creeper is a great option. Self-clinging aerial roots will cling to any surface such as walls or trees without damaging the structure or plant. The plant can reach 20 to 30 feet tall.
13. Hyacinth Bean
This fast-growing plant will cover an arbor in a hurry. It has dark green foliage with pretty purple flowers that turn into dark purple pods. It loves the heat and blooms all summer long. It’s considered perennial in warmer climates. A new variety has white flowers and silvery pods.
14. American Wisteria
The lovely, draping forms of wisteria blossoms in the spring are a welcome sight after a long winter! Their fragrant purple clusters of this perennial attract butterflies and bees. Make sure to plant a native version, not the Chinese varieties, which can become invasive. New types rebloom, too.
15. False Hydrangea Vine
This lesser-known plant is a gorgeous perennial for part-shade locations. The frothy pink or white flowers appear in spring, and it won’t harm walls or trees as it climbs. Give it a few seasons to really take off.
16. Climbing Hydrangea
This perennial vine looks like false hydrangea, but its flowers are white only and resemble the blooms on a hydrangea bush. Give it plenty of room to grow; it can reach heights of 30 feet, but its clinging rootlets won’t damage walls or trees like some vines, such as English ivy (which is considered invasive).
17. Passion Flower Vine
This exotic-looking heirloom vine has beautiful purple striped flowers. It can be challenging to get the seeds to germinate, so purchase the plants when possible. In cold climates, this perennial vine dies back to the ground. To keep it in check in the South, prune to control growth in the spring.
18. Scarlet Runner Bean
Yes, this easy-to-grow heirloom bean is edible (and so are the flowers!). Pick the pods fresh or let them dry as shelling beans. It’s also incredibly easy to grow, has exquisite flowers, and attracts tons of pollinators. By late summer, this fast grower will cover an arch or trellis. Sit back and watch the hummingbirds flock to it.
This annual has rounded leaves and lovely flowers in saturated colors ranging from hot pink to salmon. It actually trails out of pots and window boxes, but you can gently train it up a short trellis for a more upright appearance. Soak the seeds overnight before planting to speed up germination. Bonus: Both the leaves and flowers are edible.
20. Firecracker Vine
Exotic-looking tubular flowers in bright colors make this vine a fun addition to your pollinator garden. It’s grown as an annual in much of the country but will work as a perennial in warm climates.