Image by Lisa Jacobs
By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
A pergola is a long and narrow structure that has pillars to support flat crossbeams and an open latticework that is frequently covered in plants. Some people use pergolas as a trellis over a walkway or to protect an outdoor living space. The best plants for a pergola are ones that will grow rapidly to cover the structure, require minimal care and are well suited for your growing region.
About Pergola Climbing Plants
Plants and vines for pergola structures vary in size, growing habit and appearance. Many pergola plants are flowering vines that add color and interest to the landscape. Some gardener’s combine several climbing plants that bloom during different times of the season for year-round color. Be sure that your pergola structure is strong enough to support the weight of several climbers before you plant.
Starting Pergola Climbing Plants
Although some climbing plants are self-clinging, meaning they will hang on to something and begin to climb, others require some assistance. Therefore, when you are starting pergola climbing plants, tie new climbers to the pergola or provide stakes or trellises until they get started. Be sure not to injure the plant when you tie it to your pergola or trellis. Always follow the planting directions for the climbing pergola plants you choose.
Best Plants for a Pergola
Depending on the region where you live and your growing conditions, there are many pergola-climbing plants to choose from. Some of the more popular plants and vines for pergola structures include the following:
- Clematis – Clematis is a favorite climber among gardens as it is easy to grow, relatively lightweight, and provides a beautiful burst of color beginning in early spring. Combine clematis with climbing roses for quick cover and loads of color. You might also consider any of the varieties of clematis or a combination of clematis plants that bloom at different times.
- Passionflower – Passionflower is an exotic climber with intriguing purple and white flowers that quickly covers garden structures. There are even frost hardy varieties available for the northern garden. Combine passionflower with an early-blooming clematis for a striking effect.
- Wisteria – Wisteria is one of many favorite pergola climbing plants, but this fragrant beauty must have sturdy support. Wisterias do require a little maintenance to keep them looking their best, and they do require full sun in order to thrive.