Best Vines To Grow On Your Pergola

Posted on: 19 June 2015

Pergolas are at their most beautiful and functional when providing a structure for a vining plant. Once covered with a vines, your pergola will provide a cool shady spot for your guests and family to sit and enjoy the great outdoors. When choosing a vine to grow on your pergola, it's best to pick a plant that will best suit the characteristics of your pergola. 

Pergolas Placed in Shade

It can be hard to find shade-tolerant vining plants. Climbing hydrangea grows in virtually all light conditions and is an excellent candidate for a pergola in a shady location. In fact, even if your pergola is placed half in shade and half in the sun, a climbing hydrangea can grow over the entire structure. This plant is slow growing at first, but will pick up speed as it matures. With a climbing/vining habit, your hydrangea might need training at the beginning but once established, the hydrangea will only need training or pruning if it starts to grow in an undesirable direction. 

Sturdy, Heavy-Duty Pergolas

Delicate, lacy vines can look strange and dwarfed on pergolas made from thick, sturdy posts and heavy-duty bars. For the best aesthetic match, choose a substantive plant that can either cover the pergola completely, or a plant that will support itself with thick, sturdy vines to match the thick, sturdy posts. Examples include:

  • Hops. Hops has a way of growing rampant with lush leaves. The un-showy, cone-like flowers tend to blend with the foliage, creating a dense green blanket that can completely cover a sturdy pergola and all the spaces in between. 
  • Wisteria. Famous for crushing houses and strangling other plants, wisteria is a heavy-weight vine that produces gorgeous, dangling flower clusters in the spring. Wisteria only appropriate for the strongest and sturdiest pergolas. Be aware that this aggressive plant can be invasive in areas and should only be planted if it's appropriate in your region.
  • Grapes. Grapes grow from thick trunks and can require moderate training in order to climb all the way up a pergola, but once at the top, a sturdy pergola will look very impressive supporting clusters of grapes dangling from its ceiling. 

Tall Pergolas

Tall pergolas with hard-to-reach overhead areas can be problematic for gardeners who find themselves unable to safely reach the top. The best plants to grow up these structures are vines that require almost no training or support from the gardener. Morning glories are fast-growing, lightweight, eager climbers. They're also really long--growing up to 15 feet in a single season--which makes them excellent plants to grow on very tall pergolas. Once they've started on an upward trajectory, morning glories require no real training, pruning or support to keep them climbing. 

For more tips and advice about which vines to grow on your pergola, speak with your landscaper, like those at Rocky Mountain Fence & Deck. He or she will be able to help you pick the right vine for your particular pergola.