10 Best Perennial Vines for Shady Areas

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Perennial Vines for Shady Areas

Vines can create lush trees, but not all are suitable for shade. This collection of vines includes some that love shade and others that tolerate it.

However, it is important to know that most vines can overwhelm your trees, garden structures, or your home. Also, many are considered invasive species and should be avoided.


Many invasive grape varieties, such as kudzu, pose serious problems for forests and landscapes. This list has some recommendations for both perennial vines that tolerate partial shade and some that should be avoided due to encroachment dangers.

Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Boston ivy is not grown for its flowers. It's the foliage of this traditional favorite that guarantees it a spot on this list. Ivy League colleges are so named because the exterior walls of some of the oldest buildings on their campuses are covered in Boston ivy.

Boston ivy leaves can turn bright red in the fall and are also attractive in the summer when they are deep, bright green. Fall color is best when this vine gets lots of sunlight, so if you grow it in the shade, you should settle for its summery look.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Loamy soil

Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris)

As difficult as it is to find vines that grow in the shade, it is even more difficult to find flowering vines that flourish well in shady conditions and are hardy in the northern states of the United States (as well as parts of Canada).

Because the climbing hydrangea meets these requirements, it is one of the most valuable plants available to the landscaper.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
  • Color Varieties: White, blue, pink, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Moist, acidic soil

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Although climbing Virginia is on the "good" list, it has some qualifications. Because it is a vigorous grower, it is not suitable for growing in small spaces.

Plant developers have produced more tame cultivars for homeowners to grow, such as "Red Wall." Like its relative, the Boston ivy, the fall foliage of the Virginia creeper can be excellent. (Boston ivy and Virginia creeper are members of the genus Parthenocissus.) Don't expect an ideal fall color if you grow it as a vine for shade.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Greenish white
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, clay, loamy

Vinca Minor (Vinca minor)

Periwinkle can be invasive in some circumstances, but it is relatively easy to control in the landscape and produces beautiful blue-violet flowers. It can be a good plant to grow under trees, a particularly challenging environment.

Vinca is a drought-tolerant groundcover, which means it can support large trees that consume almost all available water. Unlike the other plants listed here, the periwinkle is not a vine. But those who don't mind its aggression will appreciate its ability to fill an area that would otherwise be overrun with weeds.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Blue, lavender, purple, white
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to full shade
  • Soil Needs: Normal, sandy, or clay

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata, Clematis terniflora)

Fall sweet clematis is a vine that grows well and blooms well when planted in the shade. But the reviews on this plant are mixed. Some people love the sweet autumnal clematis and the delicious aroma it emits at night.

But others are irritated that the abundant flowers, so beautiful to many, are the source of equally numerous seeds that will sprout throughout the garden to produce seedlings. For gardeners who don't mind weeding chores, it can make a perfect vine.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Color Varieties: White
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Any well-drained soil

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

The trumpet is another plant that has its own merits. It will eventually produce its beautiful orange blooms, even in partial shade, and hummingbirds love it.

But the unwanted "offspring" of the mother plant will appear everywhere and will be much more difficult to eradicate than the sweet clematis of autumn.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, red
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Any well-drained soil

Emerald Gaiety Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)

Euonymus 'Emerald Gaiety' is a foliage plant that can take the form of a vine or shrub. As a result, it can be grown as a ground cover or as a cover plant (picture). It's easy to choose Emerald Gaiety.

It has several leaves in a green and white pattern. The shade doesn't bother you much, but its intrusive potential may be a nuisance to you.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Any well-drained soil

Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)

Chinese wisteria is also invasive in some regions of North America. The best choice for most American gardens is Wisteria frutescens, a Native American.

The problem with the American variety is that it doesn't bloom in the shade. Chinese wisteria, on the other hand, blooms beautifully in the shade, but gardeners are at risk of facing their potential invader.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

For some gardeners, the English ivy competes with the bittersweet oriental and the kudzu for the title of the most hated vine in North America, due to its invasion capacity.

This vine is not recommended, although it grows very well in the shade. However, west of the Mississippi River, it is not known to be invasive.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Japanese honeysuckle is an attractive perennial vine for shade, but the exuberant and invasive nature of this exotic plant makes it a plant to be avoided at all costs.

The honeysuckle variety native to the eastern United States, Lonicera sempervirens, is unfortunately not a shade vine. Although the common name of Lonicera sempervirens is "trumpet honeysuckle", do not confuse it with trumpet (Campsis radicans).

It is known to be invasive in eastern Maine to Florida and western Wisconsin and Texas. There are events spread throughout the southwest.

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