Fast-Growing, Shade-Loving Vines in Zone 5


Vines help create a feeling of intimacy and calm when used as a backdrop in a shade garden. They also provide privacy or hide unsightly views. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright once quipped, "A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines." Several vines thrive in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 5 where winter temperatures drop to between minus 10 and minus 20 degrees F.

Climbing Methods

  • Vines grow by using tendrils, twining or clinging. Tendrils are small shoots growing from the vine reaching out and wrapping themselves around any nearby support. Examples are clematis, perennial sweet pea and grapes. Twining vines climb by winding their stems around any available support. Dutchman's pipe, bittersweet and honeysuckle are in this category. Clinging vines, such as Virginia creeper and climbing hydrangea, attach themselves to surfaces with small aerial rootlets that burrow into crevices.

Annual vs. Perennial Vines

  • In the world of vines, fast growing often means invasive, as many perennial vines leave their designated spot and venture into lawns, gardens and beyond. If control is an issue, then it is best to plant annual vines that grow quickly but which succumb to winter's chill. Black-eyed Susan vine, canary creeper, morning glory and climbing nasturtium all grow and flower in partial shade of three to six hours of sun a day.

Part Shade Perennial Vines

  • Part shade offers sufficient light for many flowering perennial vines. The queen of them all is Clematis. "The President" cultivar boasts large blue-mauve flowers, while "Bees Jubilee" offers striped pink flowers and "Comptess de Bouchard" displays pale pink flowers. The honeysuckle Lonicera x brownii "Dropmore Scarlet" and "Goldflame" are common performers, as is Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, a climbing hydrangea which, although sometimes slow to start, eventually puts out vigorous growth with abundant flower clusters.

Perennial Vines for Less than 3 Hours of Sun

  • Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia sprawls easily along fences, has foliage that turns red in autumn, and blue-black fruit that attracts birds. Engleman's ivy Englemanii "Star Showers" is a related species with variegated leaves. For an outstanding wall cover, choose Boston ivy Parthenocissus tricuspidata "Veitchii." Its dark-green leaves turn orange-scarlet in autumn. The ornamental kiwi Actinidia kolomikta leaves are half green and half pink-and-white. Dutchman's pipe Aristolochia durior is an old-fashioned favorite growing up to 30 feet a year, but its unpleasant scent requires distant planting.

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