Did you know that vertical gardening is a very productive way to get edible vines to produce a host of food items with limited space? It allows you to use any fences or walls to gain more protection and privacy as the plants fill in. There are also several cool upcycling techniques you can use in this project to help make your vertical garden more eco-friendly while giving your edible vines all they need to grow and thrive.
There are dozens of edible vines available to choose from, and there is something for virtually any environment. Another great advantage of planting edible vines in this arrangement is that many of these vines are perennial, and this means that they’ll come back year after year once you successfully cultivate them. If you’re curious as to what popular edible vines are available, this is for you. We’ll outline several great choices for you below.
1. Bitter Melon
In Southeast Asia, bitter melon is one of the most popular edible vines people grow. Like melon, cucumber, or pumpkin, it falls into the gourd family. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent, and it’s very popular for use in Asian cuisine. It’s also one of the healthiest edible vines on the planet, and it has several culinary and medicinal uses. You’ll get a unique crunchy and bitter taste that you won’t be able to find in any other vegetable.
You can train your blackberry vines to grow along wire, a fence, or a trellis without a problem. They grow on thorny vines, and some areas have them classified as a weed because they can quickly form very prickly thickets that take over your space if you don’t control them. Regularly pruning the vines will keep them in check and help encourage a lot of fruit production. This edible vine grows best in full sun, and they’ll start producing fruit during the second year.
You may have heard of Chayote called mirliton, and it’s part of the gourd family. It’s a very productive vine that you can grow to cover a pergola during the first season. It works very well in tropical environments, but you can grow it in southern portions of the United States, including in Louisiana, California, and Florida. Despite the fact that it needs a lot of moisture, chayote also needs great drainage for it to thrive and be productive. They work very well as watery but crisp additions to salads, or you can cook them as a filler vegetable for stews, soups, and roasts.
4. Chocolate Vine
In hardiness zones five to nine, this edible plant is widely banned for being impossibly invasive, so double-check with your local office before you plant this flowering vine. It’s a semi-evergreen, vigorous vine that grows well in colder regions of the Midwest and American Northeast. This vine will very quickly get to 20 feet or more if you leave it untrimmed, and the twining stems produce elegant leaves in the shape of a hand, and they’re peppered with layers of very fragrant, small, purplish-maroon flowers.
There are white flowering cultivars also available, and they produce large sausage-shaped fruits during the summer months. As they mature, the fruits turn a deep purple. Fully ripe fruits will eventually split open on this edible vine to reveal a gelatinous, seedy flesh that has a guava or melon-like flavor. You want to plant two or more cultivars to ensure you get a good crop.
Cucumbers come from the same family as squash and melons, and they’re a very common staple in salads. The vines grow very vigorously with green, large leaves and small yellow flowers that will eventually turn into cucumbers in different sizes. These are annual plants that tolerate growing in partial shade or full sun, and they tend to spread their tendrils between four and six feet long. Usually, a single plant will cover four feet in every direction.
Most cucumber varieties produce fruit in one or two months, and there are dozens of reasons to add this vegetable to your edible vine garden. Between the dainty flowers, vibrant leaves, and healthy fruits, cucumbers are one vine that gives and gives. Not only that, but they give you a draw for pollinators while offering natural beauty to pollinators, and this can help create harmony in your space.
6. Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is an ornamental edible vine that makes a very bold statement in your yard by offering fleshy, three-sided vines that climb with aerial roots. It has white, large blooms that get roughly 14 inches long during the late spring to early summer months, and they grow very bizarre-looking fruits that are edible and feature prominent scales. Dragon fruit vines can get up to 20 feet long and are tropical when you grow them in zone 11. They are a spreading vine that will grow large under the right conditions, and they need a stronger support system in the form of a trellis.
Gooseberries fall into the deciduous plant category with dark green, ruffly leaves and bell-shaped flowers. They produce higher yields of yellow, green, pink, or red berries that have a tart skin and a sweet flesh. The fruit is roughly an inch in diameter and has a host of seeds. These edible vines can tolerate more sun in the morning with afternoon shade, and they are hardy in zones four to six. Gooseberries will get up to four feet tall and wide, and butterflies and birds love this vine while rabbits avoid it.
The grape vine is a favorite with gardeners. There are dozens of varieties to choose from, and they come in white and red. This is a woody, edible vine that will climb using tendrils and canes from a thick trunk, and the type you grow dictates the color of the leaves. Some of these vines are hardier than others, but they usually grow in zones four to ten without any issues. They require support and minimal training, and they prefer to be in a sunny spot. Grape plants can get between 3 and 20 feet tall and 6 to 12 feet wide. If you grow them in your backyard, they work well as living privacy fences since they can get so tall and thick.
Many people overlook this edible vine purely for the fact that they were largely forgotten as a food source after the Native Americans stopped using them. Also, peanuts took over as the groundnut namesake. No matter this reason, this is an unusual legume that helps to fix nitrogen in the soil. The main culinary use for this edible vine is the roots that have a nutty taste that is sort of like roasted sweet potatoes. You can harvest them all year-round, but they’re a typical winter and fall food source. The vines can get over three feet wide and six to nine feet tall.
10. Honeydew Melon
While this isn’t the easiest edible vine to grow as they require very sturdy support, honeydew melons are a very tasty fruit. These vines come with very light green leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a round or oval-shaped fruit that is very creamy colored with pale green flesh. This type of melon is an annual that is very easy to start indoors or outside after the last frost of the season has gone. The vines can get up to 10 feet long, love full sun, and they take two or three months to harvest.
Hops produces a cone-shaped, greenish-brown bloom that is very popular for making beer, and there is a whole amount of controversy over whether it’s a grain, fruit, or vegetable. This plant can get between 10 and 20 feet tall and 5 to 20 feet wide at full maturity. They grow very well if you plant them in full to part sun, and they are hardy in zones four to nine. Hops are low-maintenance edible vines, but they need pruning back to the ground in the spring to encourage healthy growth.
Jasmine is a plant most people grow for the strong, flowery scent. However, most people don’t know that people use this edible vine throughout Asia for tea. Due to the ability to grow wild once it roots, it’s very often considered to be a pest plant or weed in many areas. Jasmine grows well in the subtropics or tropics, but there are options to grow it in more temperate zones where they can survive if you plant them in a sheltered area. Also, it’s important that when you use it as an edible vine, you’re not using “false Jasmine” as this plant is toxic for human consumption.
There are two types of kiwi available, and they are the hardy kiwi or the kiwifruit with the kiwifruit being the one you find in the store. Kiwifruit give you the larger kiwis, however, this edible vine does need warmer, more tropical spaces to thrive. If this isn’t your location, you can try growing hardy kiwi. You’ll get much smaller grape-like kiwis from it, and you can eat them whole. They don’t grow anywhere near as fast as kiwifruit, but they’ll survive much better in colder climates than the tropical cousin while giving you that tangy kiwi taste each time you have them.
Legumes make fabulous edible vines that love to climb. No matter if you like kidney beans, black beans, peas, or green beans, there are dozens of varieties of legumes to try. They’re also a great vertical gardening plant that makes harvesting them so much easier and it helps to ensure great airflow through the plant. Legumes are also some of the easiest vegetables to grow, so they’re great for beginner gardeners to try.
15. Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach is a nice leafy green edible vine to grow, and it multiples very well when you get it in the correct growing conditions. It will get up to 90 feet, and it’ll produce more leaf fodder as you harvest. So, you really don’t need a lot of these plants to get a huge harvest. The leaves come packed with nutrients and vitamins, and you can eat them raw or cooked. Some people don’t like this spinach type due to the more slimy texture that is like okra, and they like to add it to soups or stews instead. If you do, it works like a thickening agent. This tropical perennial doesn’t survive any frost, but it can be a solid annual plant due to the quick growth habit in milder climates.
There are many different melons that you can train to grow upright, and these include cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew. You want to be very careful when you pick out your melon varieties for a vertical garden because smaller melons tend to do much better as an edible vine. Even if you pick out smaller varieties, you will have to rig up a support system for the fruit to ensure that they don’t get too heavy and snap from the vine before they’re ready. You should choose a very sturdy support system that can handle the weight.
You’ll typically find nasturtiums growing as bushing varieties or as a groundcover plant that features edible flowers and leaves. However, there are also trailing and climbing varieties that you can use as edible vines in your space. The flowers add a very colorful element and stand out in dishes as garnish or in salads, and the leaves have a very spicy taste that gets hotter as the plant ages. Even the plant’s seeds, if you choose to harvest them green, can be pickled and used in place of capers. This edible vine is very popular for the ability to thrive and self-seed without a huge amount of required care and poor soil, but they do need protection from wind or frost. They also don’t like being transplanted, so it’s a good idea to plant them where you want to keep them.
18. Passion Fruit
This edible vine is a very exotic and fast-growing, and it’ll produce blooms early in the spring months that are followed by medium-sized fruit that is purplish-red or yellow in the fall. This vine is three-lobed with dark green, glossy leaves that look wonderful spilling over a trellis. The fruit comes from the fertilized passion fruit on the vine. It will reach 15 feet or more tall and three to five feet wide. This is a very tropical plant that does well in zones 10 to 12, and it loves full sun.
It’s entirely possible to grow pumpkins in containers, but you’ll need a much bigger container and the correct soil blend to pull it off. Pumpkins need a sunny location, shelter from the cold, harsh wind, and moist soil to thrive. Small pumpkin varieties like Small Sugar, Baby Pam, and Spooktacular will adapt very well to container growth and yield five-pound fruits that are very easy to harvest. As a bonus, this edible vine is very resistant to pests and insects like squash bugs or aphids.
When people think of raspberries, they usually think of smaller thickets of prickly bushes and bright red fruit. However, raspberries can be trained to grow as an edible vine if you start early enough. With enough space and care, this plant can grow into a very thick privacy wall, just like blackberries. They like moist and well-draining soil with partial to full sun. The berries start out a green color and darken to red as they ripen, and you want to be careful when you harvest them since the vines are prickly.
Peas are one of the easiest edible vines to grow, especially in containers. They grow quickly, and you won’t need to baby them along. They are also forgiving of various climate conditions, and they don’t need full sun. In fact, they do very well in partial shade. However, they do benefit from regular watering sessions and fertile soil. These plants also prefer cool conditions, and it’s best to plant them very early in the season in the spring or even in the fall. In warmer areas with very mild winters, you can grow your peas in the winter months.
22. Pole Beans
This edible vine usually grows between 6 and 10 feet tall at full maturity, and this makes them a great vegetable to grow in big pots or buckets in your balcony garden. Growing pole beans in containers is very useful when you want to start early in the season when the soil temperatures are too cool to support warm-season vegetable growth. However, you do need to note that this edible vine hates when the temperature drops too low and they don’t like to be transplanted.
23. Rocoto Peppers
Rocoto peppers are a perennial pepper plant from South America, and it’s somewhere between a shrub and an edible vine. It can live for 10 years, and it’s a very productive option. The fruit looks like a bell pepper, but it offers a very hot, rich taste. Rocoto grows well in warm weather, but it’s also a lot more cold-hardy than other pepper types. You can grow it in a large pot and move it to a more protected area in cold climates or during the winter months. If you live in an area that doesn’t get frost or snow, you can skip this step and keep them in the same place. 3
Roses are a stunning edible vine. In fact, all roses are edible as long as they haven’t had chemical treatments for growth or pests. Not all roses are edible vines though, and they’re divided into bush or climbing varieties. The scent of the rose will also help to determine the taste. The stronger the smell is, the stronger taste it’ll have. So, you want to pick out a variety that you’ll like to look at and that smells appealing. Only the rose petals are edible, so keep this in mind.
25. Scarlet Runner Beans
Scarlet runner beans are typically used as an ornamental flower, but they do produce leaves that are edible, as are the roots, dried beans, and young pods. Culinary use-wise, the dried beans on this edible vine offer vivid colors and several sizes, and this is why it’s an ornamental plant. It likes fertile soil with bright, full sun, and it does well in moderate climates without extreme cold or heat. Not only will this edible vine fill your vertical space nicely, but it’s also a nitrogen-fixing one that will enrich the soil around it.
26. Sugar Cube Cantaloupe
How long does this edible vine take to grow to be ready to harvest? This is a cantaloupe hybrid that will give you personal-sized melons roughly 80 days after you plant it that weigh in at two pounds. You get medium-green foliage with flowers during the summer months, and the fall brings tan, netted sweet fruit. This annual is one of the most disease-resistant vines available, and it tends to thrive when you plant it in full sun. They will get roughly two feet long and feature twining tendrils as they grow. They do very well when you plant them in well-drained, warm soil, and you won’t have to prune them to keep them healthy.
27. Summer and Winter Squash
Summer squash encompasses a range of squash types, including straight neck squash, zucchini, and crookneck squash. They develop fruits very quickly after the vines spread out to form a nice compact habit that is very easy to manage at two to four feet across. It works very well in container gardens, and they need up to seven hours of full sun each day to thrive. Also, you’ll want to water your summer squash regularly and dose them with an organic fertilizer every two weeks for strong growth.
Winter squash also has a huge number of cultivars, including hubbard, acorn, and butternut. This vigorous edible vine is very quick to spread, and this makes them slightly harder to manage in a container. However, you can control the growth by putting them vertically on a trellis and pruning them. They are cold-sensitive as well, and the don’ like too much water as it makes them prone to pests.
The final edible vine on the list are tomatoes, and they do very well with vertical support. There are many climbing varieties of tomatoes available to choose from, including cherry tomatoes. They don’t spread out a huge amount either, so you can put more plant semi-close together and train them all to climb up whatever structure you have. As a bonus, this makes harvesting them much easier.
These 28 edible vines can be a nice addition to your garden, especially if you’re just starting out and want to try something semi-easy that will give you a nice harvest. We suggest mixing and matching the edible vines on the list to get a very tasty and sweet harvest in the fall.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.