Vines add height and interest to the garden. They are a great option for making use of vertical space in small gardens but are also a great addition to any size garden. You can use them for privacy, to cover up bare walls, and simply for their ornamental appeal.
Flowering vines go above and beyond by adding color and often fragrance to attractive foliage and a climbing habit.
While you may be uncertain about adding a vine to your garden because you’ve heard stories of English ivy and other plants that can become invasive, there are many well-behaved flowering vines to choose from.
Some are grown mostly as annuals and others are perennials in most USDA hardiness zones. Here’s a look at the best flowering vines in both categories so you can add some color and height to your landscape!
Best Annual Flowering Vines
Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)
Sweet peas are a romantic and very well-behaved flowering vine. They are great for small spaces and can also be grown as a trailing plant over the side of a railing or balcony.
Sweet peas are one of the most traditional English cottage garden flowers. They have a beautiful, light fragrance and come in a range of pinks, purples, reds, and white with some blue shades thrown in.
Vines typically grow anywhere from 3-6 feet (sometimes 8 in ideal conditions) in a single season. Flowers bloom in the cool weather of spring and early summer and make wonderful cut flowers.
Growing Conditions: Full sun but can take some shade in hot climates. Grows best in cool weather; plant seeds in early spring.
Note: There is a perennial sweet pea vine hardy to zones 5-9. Colors are limited to pink or white and flowers are unscented.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)
The cheerful flowers of black-eyed Susan vine closely resemble the blooms of its perennial namesake. It will brighten up your garden during the hottest months.
Not to be confused with the perennial plant named black-eyed Susan, this fast-growing vine blooms with small, cheerful flowers that do resemble black-eyed Susan blooms (hence the name).
This particular flowering vine is heat tolerant, making it a good choice for hotter climates and to bring color to your garden during the heat of summer. You can choose from cultivars that are classic yellow, tangerine, white, apricot, or pink.
Vines can grow up to 8 feet and typically bloom from spring until frost.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade. Plant after the soil has warmed in the spring in well-drained soil.
Zones: Annual. (Hardy in zones 10-11)
Snail Flower (Vigna caracalla)
Also called snail vine, this unusual tropical flower was once grown by Thomas Jefferson. It has attractive green foliage and vines that can grow up to 20 feet in ideal conditions.
The flowers, however, are the best part. The buds emerge in a corkscrew shape, giving them a snail-like appearance. They unfurl into purple-pink blooms with an intoxicating fragrance. Flowers emerge mid to late summer and last until fall.
This is truly a unique plant that will become the center of attention!
Growing Conditions: Full sun to very light shade. Needs a long growing season to bloom, so it’s best grown in milder climates. Grows from tubers that can be lifted before winter and stored like dahlia bulbs.
Zones: Annual in most; hardy in zones 9-10
It doesn’t get much more tropical than passionflower. The large blooms are the best feature of this vine, and it can quickly fill in empty areas of your garden.
Passionflower is another tropical-looking vine that can really make an impact in your landscape. It blooms with large brightly colored flowers that are 4 inches across or more. Some cultivars are fragrant, and most are shades of blue, purple, pink, and white.
Vines grow quickly and can get up to 15 feet long in a single season. ‘Blue Eyed Susan’ is an outstanding cultivar.
The tropical varieties are very frost sensitive. There is a perennial variety that’s native to the eastern U.S. and hardy in zones 6-8. However, it can become invasive, so stick with the annual kind unless you want to spend time managing it.
Growing Conditions: Full sun; tolerates partial shade. Best planted in a sheltered spot after all danger of frost has passed in the spring.
Zones: Annual in most, hardy in zones 9-11
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
You won’t get to enjoy your moonflowers until the evening, which is when the large blooms start to open. As the name suggests, this vine is best viewed in the moonlight.
Moonflowers are a great flowering vine for a nighttime garden. The large, pure-white blooms unfurl in the evening and can be 6 inches in diameter! They have a beautiful fragrance that attracts both humans and pollinators.
Moonflower vines can grow anywhere from 6-15 feet in a single season and typically bloom from midsummer to frost. They are related to the sweet potato vine and morning glories.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Plant seeds or plants after the danger of frost has passed in the spring. Prefers rich, well-drained soil.
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
Cypress vine is a fast-climbing vine that blooms with bright red flowers. Hummingbirds are drawn to the blooms and so are butterflies. Fortunately, deer are not and tend to leave this vine alone.
Apart from the eye-catching flowers, cypress vine also has attractive foliage. It’s very feathery and fern-like, almost resembling the leaves of an herb like dill.
Expect cypress vine to grow 6-15 feet in one season and to bloom from early summer to frost.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Plant in well-drained soil after all danger of frost has passed in the spring.
Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor, I. purpurea)
It’s hard to beat a morning glory vine for old-fashioned charm. They are very at home in a cottage garden but also look great in many other types of landscapes.
Morning glories are one of the most recognizable flowering vines and an old-fashioned favorite. They sometimes have a negative reputation because they can become aggressive in certain conditions.
However, you can buy a newer hybrid variety that is well-behaved or simply snip off dead flowers to prevent the plants from reseeding.
Morning glories grow up to 10 feet long in one season and bloom abundantly with purple, white, blue, and pink flowers. The opposite of moonflowers, morning glory blossoms open in the morning and may stay closed on cloudy days.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Sow seeds in well-drained soil when the soil temperature gets above 60°F. Deadhead to prevent morning glory from spreading.
Zones: Annual that reseeds
Mandevilla (Mandevilla sp.)
Mandevilla grows best in hot and humid conditions. Don’t plant it too early, since cold conditions can impact the health of your plants.
Mandevilla is a gorgeous vine that has attractive glossy green foliage as well as large, bright flowers. The plants bloom from summer into fall in pink, red, and white.
You can grow mandevilla in the ground, but it’s also one of the best flowering vines to grow in a large container. Of course, you’ll need to have a trellis or arbor next to or in the container for it to grow up.
Mandevilla can get up to 20 feet long, but will usually grow from 3-10 feet in cooler climates.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Needs well-drained soil and won’t do well in clay. If grown in pots, you can overwinter plants indoors. Plant when the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed.
Firecracker Vine (Ipomoea lobata)
Also called Spanish flag, firecracker vine is a lesser known annual but one you should really look into! The vines are incredibly low maintenance. They are heat and drought tolerant, deer resistant, and need little care once they get growing.
Flowers are tubular and first appear as red before maturing to yellow and finally to white. You’ll get all three colors on the vine at some point, and they act as hummingbird magnets.
Vines can grow up to 10 feet long.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade. Well-drained soil is a must. Start from seed or transplant after all danger of frost has passed in spring.
Zones: Annual in most; hardy in zones 9-11
Nasturtiums (Nasturtium sp.)
Nasturtiums are a very cheerful flower to add to your garden. They aren’t aggressive and look equally good climbing up a trellis or trailing out over a hanging basket.
Nasturtiums are a versatile annual and can be grown either as a bedding plant or a well-behaved flowering vine. You’ll need to do a little work to get them to climb up a trellis, but they are great for small spaces and won’t try to take over your garden.
Nasturtium flowers come in a wide range of bright colors and have the added bonus of being edible. The foliage is also attractive and sometimes variegated.
You can grow nasturtiums in the ground or in containers, and they are very easy to start from seed. Vines grow anywhere from 1-10 feet in a season.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Plant in dry, well-drained soil and don’t bother to fertilize. They grow well with a little neglect. Use thin string to help them climb up a trellis or another surface.
Cup and Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)
If you want something vigorous to cover a large area, cup and saucer vine is one of the best flowering vines for this purpose. It can hide unsightly areas and blooms late in the season.
Cup and saucer vine is a quick-growing annual that can fill in empty spaces and reach 10-20 feet in one season. It takes a while to bloom (late summer or fall) but has beautiful and unique flowers that resemble a cup resting on a saucer.
Flowers emerge green but quickly mature to purple and/or white. The leaves are an attractive bright green and bush out 3-6 feet wide.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Start seeds indoors and plant after the danger of frost has passed in well-drained soil. Pinch back vines when they get tall to control the height and make plants bush out.
Zones: Annual in most; hardy in zones 9-11
Best Perennial Flowering Vines
Clematis (Clematis sp.)
Clematis is a well-behaved vine that can be grown in the ground or in containers. Plant it in the right spot, and you’ll be amazed at the flower show it will put on each year.
It’s hard to find a more versatile perennial vine than clematis. You can find varieties that bloom in spring, summer, or fall in a wide range of color. There are even varieties with evergreen leaves that stay on year-round in mild climates.
The most popular flower colors of clematis are shades of pink, purple, blue, and white. Some cultivars are also fragrant.
In most regions, the vines grow up to 8 feet and die back in the winter.
Growing Conditions: Plant where vines can have shaded feet but sun on their leaves. Light shade may be preferred in hotter climates. Shelter the roots with mulch or other perennials.
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris)
Though it thrives in shade, climbing hydrangea still needs enough sun in order to bloom well. It can take more sun in cooler regions and will need more shade in hotter climates.
Climbing hydrangea is one of the top flowering vines for a shade garden. Most other vines thrive in full sun, but this is a shade-lover that can climb up walls, trees, and other structures.
Flowers are creamy white and typical of hydrangeas. The foliage gets very lush and is good for covering bare or unsightly areas.
You’ll need to give climbing hydrangea lots of room and time to grow. Plants are slow-growing but can get up to 50 feet tall over the course of many years. This vine is not for small gardens and will need a very sturdy support system.
Growing Conditions: Partial shade. Plant in rich, well-drained soil and be sure to keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season.
Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
Native to the southern U.S., Carolina jessamine blooms very early in the spring. Unfortunately, it’s not hardy in colder, northern regions, but southern growers can enjoy the semi-evergreen to evergreen foliage and the bright yellow flowers.
Flowers are fragrant and appear from February to April, sometimes reblooming in the fall. The vines can grow 20 feet tall but are very well-behaved in the garden.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun. Plant in well-drained, rich soil.
Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea sp.)
Bougainvillea is a truly show-stopping, vine-like shrub if you live in a region mild enough for it to be perennial. Plants can be vigorous but new dwarf varieties are easy to keep under control.
Unfortunately for northern gardeners, this beautiful vine is only hardy in mild climates like California, Florida, and along the Gulf Coast. However, it can be grown in colder zones as long as you can overwinter it indoors.
Bougainvillea is truly a stunning vine that can grow 20-30 feet and blooms with masses of brightly colored, tropical-looking flowers. Dwarf varieties are available for smaller spaces and are easier to keep under control.
Growing Conditions: Full sun; afternoon shade in hot climates. Allow plenty of space for the vines and plant in well-drained soil where water won’t puddle.
Zones: 9-11. Plant in containers and overwinter indoors in colder zones.
Trumpet Vine (Campsis sp.)
Trumpet vines have gotten a bad reputation for being too aggressive, but there are many varieties that are well-behaved in a garden setting. Do a little research before buying to pick one suitable for your region.
Trumpet vine is a favorite of hummingbirds and will brighten up your garden with orange, red, or yellow flowers practically all season long. The vines are a great option for dry, hot areas of the garden and will grow up to 30 feet long.
The native species Campsis radicans is considered invasive in many regions. Look for the hybrid variety, C. x tagliabuana, or Chinese trumpet vine, C. grandiflora, for tamer options that won’t get out of control.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade. Plant in well-drained soil and avoid overly rich soil. Vines do better without many nutrients and with a bit of neglect.
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
Crossvine is a woody flowering vine that produces lots of brightly colored flowers from spring to fall. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ is an especially nice cultivar with fragrant, orange, trumpet-shaped blooms.
The foliage of crossvine is semi-evergreen, except in zone 5. Vines grow up to 30 feet long and need sturdy support. Plants are low maintenance and tolerate poor soil and less than ideal growing conditions.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade but can adapt to heavy shade. Prefers well-drained soil but can take standing water for short periods.
Zones: 6-9, borderline in zone 5
Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)
A distinct chocolate fragrance makes this plant one of the most unique flowering vines you can grow. Plan to give chocolate vine lots of space to grow in as it has a vigorous growing habit.
Who wouldn’t want to grow a flowering plant called chocolate vine? This vigorous grower is sometimes best for a container garden to keep it from getting too enthusiastic in your garden.
The flowers of chocolate vine are delicate and come in shades of purple. They give off a distinct cocoa fragrance, which is where this plant gets its name. The light blue-green foliage is also very attractive and graceful.
Vines are quick-growing and can get up to 20 feet in one year. Prune often or plant in pots to keep them under control.
Growing Conditions: Full sun, tolerates part shade. Prefers well-drained, sandy soil but adapts to a wide range of conditions.
Wisteria (Wisteria sp.)
Wisteria is a gorgeous plant, but some species of it are invasive. Look for an American rather than an Asian variety to get a tamer plant.
Wisteria is one of the most dramatic and show-stopping flowering vines you can grow. Unfortunately, many of Asian species that are commonly sold are very aggressive, which leads many gardeners to shy away from planting them.
The good news is that you can opt for other species like American wisteria (W. frutescens) and Kentucky wisteria (W. macrostachya) that are much more well-behaved and equally lovely.
Flowers grow in fragrant clusters and bloom in shades of pink, purple, white, and blue in the spring. The vines can get up to 30 feet long and do need a sturdy support system.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Choose a sheltered spot if you live in a colder climate. Well-drained soil is best. Avoid planting wisteria right against your home.
Variegated Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)
Variegated kiwi is a flowering vine that also features attractively colored foliage. Leaves emerge green and transition to pink and white as they mature.
Fragrant white flowers appear in early summer and vines grow up to 15 feet. If you garden somewhere with cold winters, try the closely related Actinidia arguta to get delicious, small fruits.
Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade. Plant in soil with good drainage and provide sturdy support.
Native Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Honeysuckle is a great choice for fragrant as well as beautiful flowers. It grows vigorously but native varieties won’t take over your garden.
Honeysuckle is yet another flowering vine that makes a fantastic addition to most gardens- as long as you pick the right one.
Asian honeysuckle (L. japonica) is known for being aggressive and taking over a garden. Choose a cultivar of the native variety (L. sempervirens) to enjoy the sweetly scented, tubular flowers without worrying about plants being invasive.
Honeysuckle vines can reach 20 feet, depending on the cultivar, and flower in the summer. They are great for a butterfly garden and also attract hummingbirds.
Growing Conditions: Full sun. Tolerant of different soil types but well-drained soil is best.
Climbing Roses (Rosa sp.)
Climbing roses are a staple in many English gardens and can really transform your own landscape. They do take a bit more work than other vines, so be prepared for extra effort.
Though not a true vine, climbing roses are beautiful and vine-like enough to warrant a spot on this list. You can find them in almost any shade you would normally see roses come in, including fragrant options.
Because they are technically a shrub rather than a true climber, you’ll need to do a little extra work to train the roses to climb where you want them to. However, the effort is well worth it, especially if you’re going for a classic English garden look!
Growing Conditions: Full sun to light shade. Best if protected from hot afternoon sun. Plant in well-drained soil.
Choosing the Best Flowering Vines for Your Garden
As you can see, there are so many great options for flowering vines!
When choosing one that will be the best fit for your garden, keep these considerations in mind:
- How much space you have to work with
- Mature size of the flowering vine
- Preferred color scheme
- Bloom time of the vine
- Whether you want an annual or perennial
- How cold hardy or heat tolerant the vine is
- Growing conditions- especially how much sun is needed
- How much maintenance you want to do (or not do)
Even though they have a reputation for being high maintenance and aggressive, vines are actually easy to grow. If you pick the right one, you won’t have to do much to take care of it and it won’t take over your garden.
Pick out your favorite flowering vine and get it planted to start enjoying the benefits of growing a vine!
You can also check out these other low maintenance landscaping ideas for less yard work and more outdoor enjoyment.
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.