The Best Climbing Vines for Shade


Whether it is sprawling up a trellis or snaking up an arbor, climbing vines can add great interest to an outdoor space with color and texture. As with perennial and annual flowers, the key to enjoying the vines is to find the right species for a particular area, even in shady locations. Some of the most popular climbing vines grow well even under the sparest lighting conditions.

Fatshedera Lizei “Bush Ivy”

  • According to North Carolina State University Extension, Fatshedera lizei “bush ivy” is a fast-developing vine that grows under most soil or environmental conditions in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 7 and 8. It coarse leaves spread up to 10 feet.

Gelsemium Sempervirens “Carolina Jessamine”

  • Suited to USDA hardiness zones 6, 7 and 8, Gelsemium sempervirens “Carolina Jessamine,” the state flower of South Carolina, is a fine twining vine that serves well as a screening plant and spreads up to 20 feet. According to Clemson Cooperative Extension, the vine grows in partial shade and is adaptable to a range of soil and climate conditions. It can even survive periods of drought once it is established.

Hedera Helix “English Ivy”

  • Hedera helix “English ivy” is an aggressively growing vine that can be difficult to manage, according to North Carolina State University. The invasive vine can spread more than 50 feet. The leaves grow in a heart-shaped pattern and have a medium to coarse texture. English ivy is hardy and is available in many varieties. It grows best in USDA zones 6, 7, and 8. English ivy is ideal for shady locations; as the Plant-Care website points out, it neither desires nor needs full sun to grow.

Smilax Lanceolata

  • Smilax lanceolata “Smilax” serves well when you desire bright, green color or a good screen for a trellis. Gardeners who need to create a barrier in a shady location may also want to consider smilax. The vine grows at a rapid rate and spreads to more than 30 feet. However, gardeners who grow the vine should be aware that, once established, it is nearly impossible to eradicate, Walter Reeves says on his website.

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