Climbers, and particularly ornamental vines, are often useful in softening sharp lines of buildings, decorate fences,  and other structures that are not very pretty, and look way better if hidden. They can provide shade as a cover on an arbor or gazebo. Some species are also useful as ground covers on steep slopes and terraces. I find them a lovely frame for just about any garden design theme. And quite romantic. Most can also be used as the "spiller" in large container or planter arrangements, and fall beautifully from window boxes. They also cover multitudes of landscaping sins.

Among the many ornamental perennial climbers for the garden ivy, trumpet vines, clematis, Honeysuckle, wisteria, climbing roses. ornamental gourds, can provide rapid coverage and take up less space with trellises guiding their growth. Fruit and vegetable vines are good candidates in creating a Vertical Food Garden in small spaces.

To begin..... I love vines. I admit that I have a deeply-held prejudice against a very lovely vine that has been a scourge for me.... Virginia Creeper. I didn't plant it.  Someone planted it here before I arrived, and allowed it climb up the side of the house. The red leaves are glorious in the fall. But here, in Zone 6, left unattended, it is an invasive nuisance, especially when left to climb wildly in the landscape. It was almost impossible to remove without hiring someone to yank every sign of it off the house every summer. It was a huge chore, because of the minimum amount of space between houses, and the need for ladders.

Cutting just encouraged it further. I had to resort to a one-time chemical permanent removal (I'm really sorry), when it started to wind around the cable wires and electricity wiring, over the meters, and rampage across overhead wires, that also serviced my neighbors' homes. The siding on my home was damaged by stains and loosened by the roots, yanking and hacking. It seems to grab onto a structure with very strong hooks. I finally rid myself of it, and would never grow it on purpose. 

Having said that, if you have the room and location to grow it, or can keep it containerized, pruned fastidiously and controlled, it is a beautiful vine when used responsibly in the landscape. I'm sure it would be stunning in pots, and trained to grow on trellises or an arbor. Mine was just a straggling invader, covering everything in sight, without the intense, colorful ornamental attributes of well-behaved specimens. The leaves are a vivid red that looks beautiful with any accents of green. It is a great problem-solver for quickly covering ugly, immovable structures, broken fences or unmanageable slopes, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that vine. But don't ever leave it to its own devices.

Below is a photo of one of my favorite varieties of Clematis. It is planted in railing planters on my porch, and scrambles up the porch supports and trellises. Long-blooming and prolific. Hardy perennial in zones 4-11. Every stage of growth is beautiful and interesting.

Visit our Clematis page for photos of pretty varieties and tips on caring for the vines.

A very pretty vine as a "spiller" in large pots, container arrangements and window boxes.  Looks beautiful on arbors.

Vinca Vine is wonderful for  window boxes, hanging baskets or planters. Think carefully before planting beautiful vinca vines in the open landscape, as each one will cover vast amounts of your garden in a short period of time. Perfect for covering large areas and slopes you want to cover. Otherwise, it's best to confine them to pots, window boxes, and containers. 

"Thumbergia" -This vine is an annual.

Thumbergia -orange
This vine is an annual.

Clematis - Perennial Zones 4-9

I have more than a dozen vines, and several varieties, of  clematis vines grown in big pots, and attached to tall trellises along my fence and on porch railings. They are stunning, and perform beautifully.







False Hydrangea Vine - Zones 5-9
Light fragrance and long-blooming. This is a very tall vine is perfect to cover a large structure, shady wall, or arbor.


Another of my favorite ornamental vines - Honeysuckle.

I grow several types. And I dictate their area of growth. Some varieties are known to get out of control if they are planted in the landscape, and I don't allow that. Each is a well-behaved specimen, in its own pot, easily trained to a trellis or fence.

Hardy in Zones 4-9. This variety is very showy and fragrant. 

"Scentsation"  blooms all spring and summer, followed by red berries. The birds love those in the fall.

Not invasive like some other varieties of honeysuckle, so these can actually be safely grown in the ground, attached to trellises and fences. Or used as a groundcover. 
"Scentsation"  climbs 8-10 feet.

Mine is growing at the ends of long and narrow railing planters, not very deep, alongside chrysanthemum plants, and it has no trouble growing and climbing where I want it to. The fragrance is amazing on the front porch and in my seating areas.

I also grow Gold Flame Honeysuckle vines. Quite pretty.


Hardy Zones 10-11. Large and showy tropical flowers

Clematis Vine - "Little Mermaid Zones 4-8

Annual Summer and Fall Climbers -All are planted in spring, and in full sun.


Name Height Blooming Time
Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum) 10 to 15 ft.  
Balsam Apple (Momordica) 10 ft.  
Cardinal Climber  (Ipomœa quamoclit hybrid) 15 to 20 ft. June
Cypress Vine (Ipomœa quamoclit) 10 to 20 ft. June
Gourds, Ornamental 15 to 30 ft.  
Hop, Japanese (annual) (Humulus) 20 to 30 ft.  
Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos) 10 to 20 ft. July
Moon Flower (Ipomœa bona-nox) 15 to 30 ft. July to frost
Morning Glory (Ipomœa purpurea) 10 to 20 ft. July, Aug.
Nasturtium, Tall (Tropćolum majus) 6 to 12 ft. July to Oct.
Scarlet Runner (Phaseolus multiflorus) 10 to 12 ft. July to frost
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus) 3 to 6 ft. July to Sept.
Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis) 12 to 15 ft. July, Aug.


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