11 of the Best Flowering Vines for Brightening Up Shady Gardens

11 of the Best Flowering Vines for Brightening Up Shady Gardens

Lonicera Major Wheeler, Major Wheeler honeysuckle

Denny Schrock

A flowering vine for shade is the perfect way to add some pizzazz to a dark corner of your landscape. Climbers make bold statements while using minimal ground space. The trick is to select the right vine. Is your garden shaded for part of the day or is the shade dappled—allowing some sunlight to filter through all day? In either case, vines that grow in part shade are your best bet. But don’t worry if full shade better describes your space. A few flowering vines even thrive in this type of shade. Select the best vines for shade from the list below, provide a support, then stand back and enjoy the show.

Chocolate Vine

Justin Hancock

This vigorous twining vine has attractive compound leaves, each with five rounded leaflets. In early spring, fragrant red-purple flowers appear and are followed by edible sausage-shaped fruit. While deciduous in colder regions, chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) is semi-evergreen in warmer climates. It may require heavy pruning to keep all the lush growth within bounds, and in some areas it is considered invasive.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs to 40 feet

Zones: 4-9

American Wisteria

Denny Schrock

The grapelike clusters of purple or white flowers that hang from the woody stems of this wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) appear after the bright green compound leaves begin to unfold, about a month later than the Asian species. Additional flowers may appear sporadically throughout summer. While vigorous, American wisteria doesn’t grow as aggressively as non-native wisterias. Its twining stems climb a support easily.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in average soil

Size: Climbs 25-30 feet

Zones: 5-9

Canary Creeper

Bill Stites

Usually grown as an annual, the canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) is related to nasturtium and makes a good choice for a planter or hanging basket. It has slender stems and attractive blue-green, deeply lobed leaves. From early summer through fall, it produces an endless stream of delicately fringed bright yellow flowers.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained, consistently moist soil

Size: Climbs 8-12 feet

Zones: 9-10

Star Jasmine

Carson Downing

This evergreen vine is highly prized for its star-shaped white flowers that emit an intoxicating fragrance. The flowers appear in late spring and summer and are about an inch-and-a-half across. Plant star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) near a patio or porch where its sweet fragrance easily can be enjoyed.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and average soil

Size: Climbs 10-20 feet

Zones: 8-11

Coral Honeysuckle

Lonicera Major Wheeler, Major Wheeler honeysuckle

Denny Schrock

While the Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an invasive nuisance in most regions, the American native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is quite well behaved and is carefree. Its paired blue-green leaves are semi-evergreen. From spring through summer, the vine sports clusters of coral colored tubular flowers. If you need to prune this vine to control its size, the best time is after its first flush of flowers in spring.

Growing Conditions: Part shade and average soil

Size: Climbs to 12 feet

Zones: 4-9

Yellow Butterfly Vine

Denny Schrock

This vine is an evergreen perennial in warm regions but can be grown as a summer annual in cooler climes (it grows well in containers). Yellow butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) grows fast and is easy to train on a fence or trellis. From late spring to mid-summer, clusters of bright yellow orchid-like flowers pop against the dark green foliage. These are followed by papery pale green seed pods that that look just like tiny butterflies.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in average soil

Size: Climbs 10-12 feet or more

Zones: 8-11

Virgin’s Bower or Woodbine

Lynn Karlin

This perennial vine climbs by wrapping its twisting leaf stalks around its support. Native to eastern North America, woodbine (Clematis virginiana) produces clusters of showy, fragrant, white flowers in autumn, attracting a variety of pollinators. If this vine doesn’t have a support, it will scramble over the ground, creating a dense groundcover.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to full shade and average soil

Size: Climbs 15-20 feet

Zones: 3-8

Purple Bell Vine

Justin Handcock

This tender perennial is usually grown as an annual. Purple bell vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineus) has dainty green heart-shaped leaves that are often edged with burgundy. The two-inch-long, bell-shaped flowers are dark violet-pink with a deep maroon clapper-like center. They hang gracefully along the stems from early summer through fall.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: Climbs 6-10 feet

Zones: 8-10

Dutchman’s Pipe

Climbing by twining stems, this deciduous vine is often grown to provide privacy for a patio, arbor, or porch. Its heart-shaped leaves can be 12 inches across. As you might imagine from the name, Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) has green and purple flowers that are shaped like a pipe, but you may need to look beneath the foliage to catch a glimpse.

Growing Conditions: Full shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: Climbs 20-35 feet

Zones: 5-8


Climbing Hydrangea

Bill Stites

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris (Hydrangea anomola subsp. petiolaris) is a deciduous woody vine that climbs by aerial rootlets along the stems that will attach to a wall, fence, or the bark of a tree. Stems may grow several feet from the supporting structure. From late spring to early summer, fragrant flowers in large, white flat-topped blanket the vine. As it ages, its exfoliating bark provides winter interest.

Growing Conditions: Full to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: Climbs 30-50 feet

Zones: 5-9

Test Garden Tip: This is a large, heavy vine that needs a significant support. This is a good choice for covering a concrete retaining wall.


Japanese Hydrangea Vine

Doug Hetherington

Closely related to climbing hydrangea, the Japanese hydrangea vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) looks similar to its cousin. Also called false hydrangea vine, this plant blooms later in the season, and its branches don’t protrude as much, giving it a tidier appearance.

Growing Conditions: Full shade and average soil

Size: Climbs 20 to 30 feet or more

Zones: 5-8

Most of these flowering vines for shade do well with about three to six hours of bright light each day. Several of them will also grow well in full sun. In warmer regions, most benefit from afternoon shade because that is when the sun is strongest.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.