Vines that like shade

Need to hide your neighbor’s shed or soften the lines of a fence or trellis? These flowering vines for shade are the perfect solution…they’re pretty and practical.

When I first moved into my house, as with most new construction builder-grade houses, there wasn’t an inch of shade to be found. Being out in the yard in the summer with that sun beating down felt like being in an oven. In fact, the yard was so devoid of life that the backyard didn’t even have any grass!

Of course, being someone who loves to garden, I couldn’t have a yard with no plants! So I set out to create some garden beds. And to help out with the shade situation, I made sure to plant a lot of bushes and small trees that would help cool things down a bit.

I had just moved to South Carolina so I had no idea how fast everything grows here compared to Toronto…and I can tell you, the longer growing season definitely makes a difference!

So now my hot as blazes full-sun yard has turned into a much cooler, mostly shady garden. And that mean finding plants that thrive in the shade to replace the sun-loving varieties that aren’t doing so well anymore.

Like climbing roses. I used to grow them up the fence and over arbors to add some color and block my view of the neighbor’s shed, but they don’t do very well with so little sun. So I’ve been looking for some flowering vines for shade that can take their place. And I’ve discovered that finding shade vines which aren’t invasive plants is actually pretty hard.

But after doing some research I’ve finally been able to come up with a list of flowering vines for shade that I should be able to grow without creating a whole bunch of extra work for myself. (I strive to have a low maintenance garden!) Keep reading to find out what they are.

Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)

This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission if you buy the products from these links (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. But we only recommend products we would use ourselves. For more information, . Hydrangea petiolaris – Climbing Hydrangea

Zones: 4 to 8

Climbing hydrangeas are notoriously slow to get started, and can take up to 5 years to get going. I was about to give up on mine when it finally took off!

However, once they do start to grow, they are worth the wait!

Climbing Hydrangea

Imagine a whole wall of lacy white flowers, because that’s what you’ll have if you’re patient. They are rather heavy plants and can grow very tall so make sure you have them planted on a sturdy structure

Japanese Climbing Hydrangea (Schizophragma hydrangeoides)

Japanese Climbing Hydrangea

Zones: 5 to 9

The Japanese Climbing Hydrangea is in the same plant family as the true Climbing Hydrangea, and it takes just as long to get going! It has large, lacy 8″ to 10″ flowers that look really pretty cascading down the side of a fence.

Japanese Climbing Hydrangea by A. Barra (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

The most common variety ‘Moonlight’ has white flowers, but there is also a pink-flowered version (‘Roseum’).

If you are looking for a shade vine for the North side of your house, this could be the plant for you.

Find out more about Japanese Climbing Hydrangea HERE.

Native Climbing Hydrangea or Woodvamp (Decumaria barbara)

Native Climbing Hydrangea by Ciftonia (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 6 to 9

Are you sensing a trend here? The different versions of Climbing Hydrangeas are very popular shade vines!

This Climbing Hydrangea, also known as Woodvamp, is native to the Southeastern United States and is another beautiful flowering vine for the shade.

Its blooms are not as large as the cultivated climbing hydrangeas but they still put on a show. And apparently, the butterflies love it!



Zones: 3 – 9

Okay, that’s it for the Climbing Hydrangeas. Now onto Clematis…one of my all time favorite plants!

There are Clematis varieties in all kinds of colors and it is generally a very well behaved vine.

Purple Clematis

It won’t bloom very well in full shade, but almost all of the 27 varieties that I grow in my garden are in part shade and loving it! (And yes, if you have read my previous post on how to care for Clematis, I have added 2 more this summer!!)

The one caveat: If you want low maintenance plants, stay away from the Autumn Clematis which is quite invasive.

Kiwi Vine (Actinidia kolomikta)

Kiwi Vine (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 3 to 8

The kiwi vine has small white flowers in the spring but that’s not why most people grow it. In light shade, it produces leaves that are a spectacular pink, white and green combination.

It comes in a female and male version (you’ll need both if you actually want to grow fruit). For the best colors, try to get a male plant since it tends to have better variegation on the leaves than the females.

Kadsura japonica

Kadsura japonica by KENPEI (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 7 to 10

For gardeners that live in warmer zones, Kadsura japonica is a great shade vine to try.

It is a semi-evergreen vine that grows in the shade and produces white or yellow flowers in the spring. But most of the time, it is grown for the beautiful red berries it produces in the fall and variegated leaves that stand out in the shade garden.

Read more about Kadsura japonica HERE.

Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Confederate Jasmine By pizzodisevo , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 7B to 10

If you live in the South and are looking for a beautiful flowering vine with evergreen leaves that will grow in part shade, you might want to consider Confederate Jasmine.

Confederate Jasmine by Petar43 (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

It isn’t picky about the type of soil it is planted in and puts on a big show in the spring and smells heavenly!

Butterfly Vine (Mascagnia macroptera)

Butterfly vine by Clinton & Charles Robertson from RAF Lakenheath, UK & San Marcos, TX, USA & UK , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 8 to 10

The butterfly vine is a fast growing climber that will grow in part shade and produces yellow flowers from spring to frost. It gets its common name from the papery seed pods that are shaped like butterflies.

Although it is perennial only in the warmest zones of North America, it grows fast enough that it can be used as an annual vine further North.

Groundnut (Apios americana)

Groundnut by Fritzflohrreynolds (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

Zones: 4 to 8

I was a little hesitant about including the Groundnut (or potato bean) in this list of vines for shade because it can be somewhat invasive. But it’s hard to leave an easy-to-grow plant with flowers that look like red Wisteria off!

Groundnut is a native plant found in Eastern North America that blooms from July to September and thrives in the shade. As I mentioned above, it can be quite aggressive so you probably don’t want to plant it in the garden bed with your favorite perennials. But if you have a shady spot where it can spread out, it will put on quite a show.

You can find out more about the groundnut HERE.

That’s it for my list of (mostly) non-invasive vines that grow in the shade. I know I’m going to try at least a couple of these in mine…and the neighbor’s shed will be gone (at least from view)! Hopefully, you have found one or two that will make a statement in your garden, too.

Other Shade Loving Plants

Have comments or questions on flowering vines for shade? Tell us in the section below.

Common Zone 9 Shade Vines – Growing Shade Tolerant Vines In Zone 9

The zone 9 region, which stretches through mid-Florida, southern Texas and Louisiana, and parts of Arizona and California, is hot with very mild winters. If you live here this means you have a great variety of plants to choose from, and choosing zone 9 vines for shade can provide an attractive and useful element for your garden.

Shade Loving Vines for Zone 9

Zone 9 residents are blessed with the climate that supports a variety of great plants, but it can get hot too. A shade vine, growing over a trellis or balcony, can be a great way to create a cooler oasis in your hot garden. There are a lot of vines to choose from, but here are some of the more common zone 9 shade vines:

  • English ivy – This classic green vine is more often associated with colder climates, but it is actually rated to survive in areas as warm as zone 9. It produces pretty, dark green leaves and is evergreen, so you get year-round shade from it. This is also a vine that tolerates partial shade.
  • Kentucky wisteria – This vine produces some of the most beautiful of climbing flowers, with grape-like clusters of hanging purple blooms. Similar to American wisteria, this variety grows well in zone 9. It will tolerate shade but will not produce as many flowers.
  • Virginia creeper – This vine grows quickly and easily in most locations and will climb up to 50 feet (15 meters) and more. This is a great choice if you have a lot of space to cover. It can grow in sun or shade. As a bonus, the berries it produces will attract birds.
  • Creeping fig – Creeping fig is a shade-tolerant evergreen vine that produces small, thick leaves. It grows very quickly so it can fill a space, up to 25 or 30 feet (8 to 9 meters), in a short amount of time.
  • Confederate jasmine – This vine also tolerates shade and produces pretty white flowers. This is a good choice if you want to enjoy fragrant flowers as well as a shady space.

Growing Shade Tolerant Vines

Most zone 9 shade vines are easy to grow and require little maintenance. Plant in a spot with sun or partial shade and make sure you have something sturdy for it to climb. This can be a trellis, a fence, or with some vines like English ivy, a wall.

Water the vine until it is well established, and fertilize it just a couple of times in the first year. Most vines grow vigorously, so feel free to trim as needed to keep your vines under control.

The following climbing vines for shade will do well in spots that don’t get a lot of sun. They do a great job covering fences or hiding unattractive views.

Boston ivy, Virginia creeping and climbing hydrangea are self-clinging, but the other vines need a structural support to grow over.

Good climbers for shade and part shade

Boston ivy in fall color
Photo: ©Y.Cunnington

Boston ivy and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus species): Both are deciduous climbers for shade that turn red in fall.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), hardy from Zones 3 to 9, is extremely vigorous and can grow 10 feet a year when established, growing about 30 to 50 feet tall.

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is hardy from Zones 4 to 8. It also grows vigorously and gets about as tall as Virginia creeper.

Both are self-clinging climbing vines for shade with suction cup holdfasts. Of these two climbers, Boston ivy is the less rampant grower, but Virginia creeper is hardier in cold weather regions.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subspecies petiolaris): This is an attractive deciduous vine with lace-cap like clusters of large white flowers in midsummer. Roots produced on stems will attach the plant to supports.

Hardy from Zones 4 to 8, it can be slow to establish, but will grow 25 feet tall or more if it has a good wall to climb. It can, of course, be pruned to keep it smaller. It’s a lovely climbing vine for shade, but will grow in sun too.

Five-leaf akebia (Akebia quinata): This is a fast-growing deciduous climbing vine for shade that will also do well in the sun. Hardy to Zones 5 to 8, it has attractive glossy leaves and small purple flowers in mid-spring. It makes a terrific screen and will grow 30 to 40 feet if allowed to ramble. Needs support for climbing.

Variegated porcelain vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata ‘Elegans’): Hardy to zone 5, this vine has attractive green leaves that are variegated white and pink. Produces an abundance of porcelain-blue berries; the warmer the summer, the more fruit. Needs support of wires or a trellis to climb.

Related Information

structures for your vines

Climbers for sun

garden basics

ground cover plants for shade

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Master Gardener: Vines for your partial shade garden

Several vines can grow well in shadier spots, even when they typically prefer full sun.

1. American Groundnut. This attractive vine (Apios americana ) is native to the Eastern United States. The perennial (Zones 3 to 9) grows best in moist, well-drained soil that gets partial shade to full sun. Fragrant flowers bloom in summer and attract butterflies.

2. Sweet Potato Vine. It’s true that sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) grows well in full sun. But this fast-growing vine often prefers dappled light or partial shade. Sweet potato vine foliage is available in everything from chartreuse to nearly black. This vine likes moist, well-drained soil for best results. Sweet potato vine is a great “spiller” in containers and garden beds. Let it drape from planters, or use it as a colorful ground cover. This plant is grown for its ornamental leaves, not to eat.

3. Chocolate Vine. This vine (Akebia quinata) grows in full sun to partial shade. This perennial (Zones 4 to 8) can be invasive and crowd out native plants. Native to Japan, China and Korea, the attractive chocolate vine grows well in most soil, but particularly likes sandy loam. The fragrant flowers bloom in the spring with chocolate-purple petals. It adds a pretty and old-fashioned look to the garden.

4. Boston Ivy. Boston ivy (Parthenocissus) The fast-growing perennial vine can grow up 6 to 8 feet a year, so keep that in mind before you plant it. Once this vine is growing on something, it becomes much harder to remove. Prune Boston ivy in spring to help control its size. (Zones 4 to 8). In the fall, the foliage turns a brilliant red. This color is best enjoyed when Boston ivy is grown in sunny locations, although the vine will grow well in part-sun and shady spots too. Water the plant well after planting; Boston ivy becomes more drought-tolerant when established.

5. Clematis. (Clematis sp.) Most clematis grow best in full sun, more than 6 hours day, but several varieties will even bloom in partial shade. The low-maintenance, perennial vine (Zones 4 to 9) will attract lots of pollinators to your garden. Grow clematis to drape over fences, arbors or trellises, where the colorful flowers can be enjoyed. This vine can grow up to 20 feet long, with blossoms ranging in color.

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