Best flowering vines for a garden archway, pergola, trellis or arbor

Vertical accent structures built into the landscape or garden create the framework for climbing plants. Imagine an archway over a garden gate or a trellis against the house or garage that is covered with roses suitable for clipping for a short floral arrangement. Delightfully scented wisteria can add shade to the top of a pergola creating a restful, private retreat. In addition to an arch, pergola, wall-mounted trellis or arbor, a freestanding umbrella trellis (click here for information about the umbrella trellis), garden obelisk or a narrow-based tepee (also spelled teepee) can add vertical interest to your landscape or garden when covered with flowering vines.

Perennial Plant Options

Perennials are gauged to be hardy to specific USDA zones. Hardy means that the plant can withstand the winter cold and return to bloom the following season. In some instances, a plant that is considered an annual in the colder northern zones can actual survive southern winters to return to bloom in the spring. Those plants may be referred to as hardy annual. The following flowering vines are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9.

Climbing or rambling roses. With so many different colors, scented or unscented, and petal displays, the most difficult part will be deciding which variety to purchase. Smaller blooms, though, tend to look more to scale when viewed growing upward. Some new varieties may be hardy further north than zone 5.

Clematis. Clematis is popular for the wide variety of blooms colors from which to choose.

Climbing Hydrangea. The large white summertime blooms followed by yellow autumn leaves makes this climber an eye-catcher once it becomes established.

Mile A Minute. This vine that produces tiny white flowers gets its name from its rapid growth potential.

Wisteria. Complementing southern or traditional architecture, wisteria produces clusters of drooping fragrant blooms in the spring.

Annual Plant Options

Annuals will die back in the fall and will not reappear in the spring. Annuals are usually less expensive than perennials. The advantage of using annuals is that you can remove all the climbers to maintain the structure. You may also choose to use a different type of annual the following year. The following annual vines are hard in USDA zones 9 to 11.

Black-eyed Susan Vine. The orange, white and yellow blooms of the black-eyed Susan vine require afternoon shade to keep from wilting.

Cathedral Bells. This late summer, early fall bloomer adds color to the garden as other flowers are fading.

Morning Glory. An old fashioned favorite, morning glory grows quickly and can bloom profusely.

Nasturtiums. The leaves and blooms of climbing nasturtiums are almost the same size and each has a nearly round shape.

Sweet Peas. This sweet smelling charmer appreciates shade in the late afternoon.

How to Choose Plants

In addition to deciding on perennial or annual plants, there are other factors you can look at to help decide which flowering vine is best for you.

Consider the height and sturdiness of the structure to which the vines will be tied or clinging. A pergola with strong support beams can handle the weight of thick, woody stemmed wisteria while a light wood trellis or arch may not be able to hold the weight.

Scented plants are nice to linger by when strolling through the garden, but may not be the best choice when planted near an outdoor eating area.


When purchasing more than one plant to cover the length of a large structure like a long archway, read the plant container tag to determine the distance between plants to calculate how many you will need. Also consider using more than one complementary or contrasting colors of the same plant (like one pink and one lavender colored clematis).