This article discusses 7 suitable vines that thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 6 and flower beautifully. These vines are suitable for northern climates with harsh winters. The article highlights various non-invasive vines that can withstand cold temperatures and still provide an impressive floral display. Some vines mentioned include American bittersweet, American wisteria, clematis, climbing hydrangea, climbing rose, Dutchman’s pipe, and hops. Each vine has specific growing requirements and characteristics, and they can range from annuals to perennials. The article provides links to vendors where these vines can be purchased.
Introduction to 7 of the Best Non-Invasive Flowering Vines to Grow in the North
It seems like many vines are so aggressive that they take over the entire neighborhood like some creature in a campy horror film, or they are too delicate to withstand the harsh winter conditions of northern climates. Is finding a plant that is extremely cold hardy without being an invasive jerk asking too much? What about something polite and able to thrive in places with frigid winters that also puts on an impressive floral display? Now we’re dreaming big. We link to vendors to help you find relevant products. If you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
In this roundup you will discover 11 suitable vines that will thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 6, all of which flower beautifully. Some are annuals that grow quickly enough to fill out a space in one season. Others are tried-and-true perennials that can always be counted on for a big floral show. Here are the vines we’ll cover:
Best Non-Invasive Vines for Northern Climates
When we talk about “the north” in the US, we typically mean Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. We’re talking states with cold winters in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 6. But most of these species will work for anyone in the northern states ranging from the Pacific to the Atlantic, so long as your local Hardiness Zone is suitable.
Let’s also set some expectations: Invasive is a term used to describe a plant that isn’t indigenous to an area and that out competes native plants. That doesn’t mean a non-invasive plant won’t be aggressive – meaning it might grow in an area where you don’t want it to if you don’t prune it as needed. So, with that out of the way, let’s look at our first candidate.
1. American Bittersweet
If you love the look of bittersweet but don’t like its invasive nature, consider American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) instead. In full sun to light shade in Zones 3 to 8, it offers charming ovate leaves, heaps of fragrant white flowers, and clusters of red berries in the fall. Birds love the fruit. In this vine’s indigenous range, foragers will take large clusters home for decoration. They’re so enthusiastic that, in some areas, wild populations have been significantly impacted. This vine will reach up to 20 feet but most plants need a pollinating male nearby for the female to produce fruit.
2. American Wisteria
American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is a perennial, twining, flowering vine that produces fragrant blooms that are blissfully intoxicating! They need full sun and moist soil. Colors can vary. We have a wisteria that is currently thriving on a backyard wooden trellis. These plants can grow up to 25 feet. Wisteria needs regular pruning, and we recommend this in the summer and again in late winter. Not to be confused with the potentially invasive Japanese wisteria (W. floribunda), American wisteria is a North American native vine that looks every bit as gorgeous as its cousin, with lots of cultivars to choose from. For instance, ‘Amethyst Falls’ has six-inch-long lavender and purple blossoms on a compact natural dwarf vine that grows up to 25 feet long. ‘Amethyst Falls’ Wisteria Available at Nature Hills Nursery in a #1 container, the fragrant flowers fade to blue as they age. Most cultivars grow in Zones 5 to 9 but you can find a few that grow well in Zone 4. Read more about cultivating wisteria in our guide.
Clematis is a perennial, flowering, climbing plant that is often referred to as the reigning “Queen of Climbers.” The blooms range in color from the purest white to deep magenta and purple. Some bloom in spring, others in summer, and still others are repeat bloomers that show off throughout the growing season. Prune clematis the first spring after planting. But keep in mind that different cultivars of clematis have different pruning needs. Don’t become discouraged if yours don’t bloom during the first year after planting. These vines need about two years to become properly established. Once they do, they can grow up to 30 feet.
Clematis needs to be kept moist, and most varieties require full sun, though some grow well in partially sunny areas. To keep them truly happy, cover the roots to keep them cool and give the tops bright, direct, full sun all day long. Some gardeners use rocks to shade the roots, but a clematis garden that I’m familiar with in Portland, Oregon, uses strawberries as a ground cover.
I tried this out this year, and my vines have never been happier. Avoid Japanese clematis (C. terniflora) because it can become invasive. Native types like Virgin’s bower (C. virginiana) and scarlet (C. texensis) are better choices. Most species grow well in Zones 4 to 8. I’m partial to ‘Patricia Ann Fretwell’ myself. It’s the first pink and red double-flowering clematis. This means you get a big floral display of the massive, double blossoms not once but twice per year. ‘Patricia Ann Fretwell’ Clematis Pick up a ‘Patricia Ann Fretwell’ vine for your garden at Nature Hills Nursery. Read more about growing clematis in our guide.
4. Climbing Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangea vines (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) are perennials that take about two to three years to get established. Some may take up to five years, depending on the climate. And these lush flowers are a delight to experience! Be patient, because they are indeed worth the wait. Hydrangeas are excellent plants for attracting pollinators to your backyard habitat in Zones 4 to 10. Climbing hydrangea vine needs full sun but can sometimes grow in partial shade. Prune in the summer after the blooms fade. Upon maturity, I have known these plants to grow 30 to 50 feet tall. Climbing Hydrangea For a non-invasive vine that puts on a display of white blossom clusters beyond compare, visit Nature Hills Nursery to snag yours in a #1 container. Learn more about growing hydrangeas in our guide.
5. Climbing Rose
There are lots of climbing roses (Rosa spp.) that thrive in northern regions. Gorgeous ‘Gertrude Jekyll,’ highly fragrant ‘The Generous Gardener,’ tough ‘Mary Delany,’ and classic ‘Strawberry Hill’ are all worthwhile options. We can grow these as far north as Zone 4. They won’t twine up a fence or support on their own;tie them into place. But they can grow to be huge – some of them will stretch up to 20 feet tall, or more! If you’re not familiar with caring for roses in the winter, visit our guide for some tips. And our guide to growing roses can get you started.
6. Dutchman’s Pipe
Native to eastern North America, Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) isn’t just special because of its flowers but for its large, heart-shaped leaves. The vine can reach up to 30 feet long and is smothered in overlapping leaves, meaning it can completely cover up even the ugliest wall or fence in full to partial sun. It grows rapidly and the flowers will have everyone talking too. When young, people compare the blossoms to little green and burgundy human fetuses or old-fashioned Dutch smoking pipes. The flowers grow tucked underneath the foot-long leaves. Dutchman’s Pipe This plant is also an important food source for the swallowtail butterfly. If you live in Zones 4 to 8, bring one home from Nature Hills Nursery.
Okay, this one isn’t your classic flowering vine, but it’s worth considering if you want something different. Common hops vines (Humulus lupulus) aren’t just for beer lovers. Technically bines like woodbine or bindweed that have climbing or twining stems, these can grow super quickly to cover an ugly fence or patio, and the flowers – typically called cones or strobili – are extremely attractive, even if they’re different from your typical flowers. You can’t go wrong with any cultivar that has its roots in North American native hops. European hops will sometimes, though not always, be labeled as H. lupulus var. lupulus. Native vines will usually be called out by the grower, since they’re harder to find.
Sweet Autumn Clematis Seeds Clematis Terniflora Perennial Vine Fragrant Fast Growing Fence Arbor Ground Cover Outdoor 50 Pcs Flower Seeds by YEGAOL Garden
250 Heavenly Blue Morning Blooming Vine Seeds - Wonderful Climbing Heirloom Vine - Non GMO and Neonicotinoid Seed. Marde Ross & Company