Some vines, like some people, come and go from your life in the blink of an eye. Others stay only for summer fun. When you need a vine that will stick around through winter, every winter, look to evergreen plants to fit the bill. Evergreen vines don't necessarily flower all year, but those lovely green leaves dress up your trellis or arbor 12 months out of 12.
Which is the best evergreen vine depends on who is judging. A vine is "best" for you if it fits your needs best and its growing requirements match the sun exposure and soil type in your garden.
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Few vines offer more than Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), with its wealth of yellow late winter or spring flowers and glossy, evergreen foliage. It makes short work of a trellis, wall or tree trunk, rapidly twining its way up 20 feet while flowering profusely in December through May. Plant this climber in full sun in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9. It does best in well-draining, slightly acidic soil rich in organic content. As an added benefit, the trumpet-shaped flowers smell wonderfully sweet, and the leaves are also aromatic.
Every part of this plant is toxic if eaten, and may be lethal. Don't choose this vine if you have curious children or pets playing in the area. Working with it may also cause a rash, so wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves if you're sensitive to it.
If you are looking for an extremely rugged, evergreen vine, evergreen smilax (Smilax lanceolata) may be "best" for you. It climbs rapidly with twining tendrils to 20 feet high. Vigorous when grown in sun, partial shade or full shade, evergreen smilax grows in USDA zones 7 through 10. The vine's foliage is such a brilliant green shade that it is often cut for holiday displays. Evergreen smilax produces small white flowers in spring that develop into purple berries that hang on the vine a long time. In the wild, this vine grows in the tops of trees and "climbs" over other vegetation.
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides ) is considered a shrub in chillier regions. But it is grown as an evergreen vine in its hardiness range, USDA zones 8 through 10, where it climbs to 20 feet by twining. It has intensely fragrant, star-shaped flowers that bloom in spring and sporadically in summer. Grow star jasmine in full sun or partial shade in well-draining soil. This vine is not drought tolerant and does best with regular watering, at least weekly and more frequently in hot, dry weather.
Evergreen trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is one of the showiest honeysuckle vines, with eye-popping flowers, scarlet and orange on the outside, yellow on the inside. They appear in spring, bloom in May and June, then give way to red berries. This vine grows in USDA zones 4 through 10a, but it only remains evergreen in the warmer end of its range. These vines are so vigorous that they are considered invasive in some areas.
The star-shaped, vanilla-scented flowers come and go in spring, but the leathery leaves of evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii) are fully evergreen in USDA zones 7 through 9. An evergreen clematis vine can grow 30 feet tall. It is so vigorous you can cut it all the way back to the ground, if necessary, and it will regrow. It prefers a site with partial shade and plenty of water, so provide weekly watering in dry climates. Otherwise, evergreen clematis is low-maintenance. It will bring butterflies to your garden during its bloom season.