11 of the Best Non-Invasive Flowering Vines to Grow in the North

It seems like many vines are either 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.

A close up vertical image of a large climbing hydrangea in full bloom growing in the garden. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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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:

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 outcompetes 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.

A horizontal image of an American bittersweet vine with small yellow berries growing in the garden pictured in light sunshine.

In full sun to light shade in Zones 3 to 8, it offers up 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 in length 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.

A close up vertical image of American wisteria growing in the garden, in full bloom, pictured in light sunshine.

We have a wisteria that is currently thriving on a backyard wooden trellis. These plants can grow up to 25 feet in length.

Wisteria needs regular pruning, and this is recommended 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.

A close up square image of the light purple flower of 'Amethyst Falls' wisteria growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

‘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.

3. Clematis

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.

A horizontal image of the flowers and foliage of Clematis virginiana growing in the garden.

It is a good idea to 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 in length.

Clematis needs to be kept moist, and most varieties require full sun, though some do 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.

A close up square image of 'Patricia Ann Fretwell' clematis growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

‘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, these plants have been known to grow 30 to 50 feet tall.

A square image of a large climbing hydrangea growing up the side of a residence.

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.

A horizontal image of pink climbing roses on a brick wall.

All of these can be grown as far north as Zone 4. They won’t twine up a fence or support on their own; you have to 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.

A horizontal image of Dutchman's pipe vine climbing over an arbor over a pathway.

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.

A square image of the foliage of Dutchman's pipe vine pictured in bright sunshine.

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.

7. Hops

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.

A close up horizontal image of hops vine growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

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 a bit 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.

If you can find them, H. lupulus var. lupuloides, var. neomexicanus, and var. pubescens are native to North America. But just because a hop isn’t described as native doesn’t mean it doesn’t have primarily North American roots.

I think the flowers on ‘Chinook’ are particularly good-looking. They’re also one of my favorites in beer. Nature Hills Nursery carries this one in quart-size containers.

A close up square image of 'Chinook' hops growing in the garden.

‘Chinook’ Hops

Whatever cultivar you go with, be aware that this vine can literally grow up to a foot a day and over 20 feet long at maturity.

It’s perfect if you have a spot you want to fill quickly, but less ideal if you want a vine that stays politely compact.

Plant in full sun, and feel free to prune hops back as much as you want to keep it in shape.

Stick with common hops, as Japanese hops plants (H. japonicus) are invasive.

These plants grow best in Zones 5 to 8, but they can be grown as annuals in any USDA Hardiness Zone.

8. Morning Glory

Morning glories (Ipomoea purpurea) are remarkable annuals in that their seed deposits regenerate readily each year.

A close up vertical image of blue and white morning glory flowers growing in the garden.

While they are technically considered annual flowering plants, they often self-sow to return each year, growing up to 10 feet in length without any work or help from us.

The vibrant azure blossoms and attractive heart-shaped leaves are a beautiful addition to the garden, and their vines can create a privacy screen on a chain link fence or trail merrily over an arbor.

Morning glories need full sun and regular watering. This plant blooms from early summer until late fall or early winter.

While the original plant will die, the seeds will return, so they’re suitable for any growing zone.

This plant can be invasive or at least overly aggressive in southern states and along the Pacific Coast.

But up north in the Midwest and eastern parts of the US as we defined above, they’re much more polite.

Still, it helps to deadhead the flowers after they fade if you want to keep this vine in check and prevent self-seeding.

A close up of 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory flowers growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory

Grab glorious ‘Heavenly Blue’ seeds from Burpee and let the choir sing hallelujah!

Read more in our guide to growing morning glories.

9. Periwinkle

It’s hard not to adore vinca, also known as creeping myrtle or periwinkle (Vinca minor).

A close up horizontal image of a periwinkle vine with light purple flowers growing up a stone wall.

It’s extremely versatile and can be grown as a ground cover or a short vine that will extend a few feet.

With evergreen foliage and long-lasting purple flowers, it’s the perfect option to cover a retaining wall or short fence.

It also flowers in full shade and full sun alike, tolerates drought, and rambles around the garden without becoming invasive.

No wonder it’s such a popular option for gardens in Zones 4 to 9! In colder regions it might lose its foliage, but it will return reliably.

A square image of blue periwinkle flowers growing up a wall in the garden.

Periwinkle Vine

Grab a few live plants in quart-size containers at Nature Hills Nursery and fill up your challenging spots.

10. Purple Bell Vine

Purple bell vine (Rhodochiton atrosanguineus) is a tender perennial that can’t tolerate a hard frost, so what’s it doing on this list?

A close up vertical image of the flowers and foliage of purple bells vine, covered in droplets of water.

It grows quickly, reaching up to 10 feet in just a month or two, and then sends out heaps and heaps of bell-shaped purple flowers.

Even if you don’t live in Zones 10 to 12, you can enjoy this vine as an annual.

The blossoms last straight through fall until the first frost, but even before they develop, the heart-shaped leaves are gorgeous on their own, often tinged in burgundy or red.

You can pick up a packet of seeds at Eden Brothers for planting out in spring after the last predicted frost date.

11. Trumpet Honeysuckle

Not to be confused with Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), which is highly invasive, trumpet honeysuckle, aka coral or scarlet honeysuckle (L. sempervirens) is native to North America and stays much more contained than its exuberant cousin.

A close up horizontal image of red and yellow trumpet honeysuckle flowers growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

This perennial flowering vine has vibrant crimson flowers on top of being a wonderful flowering plant for pollinators.

It’s an unbeatable addition to a northern cottage garden in Zones 4 to 9. This plant can grow up to 15 feet high and about six feet wide, so it’s ideal for small yards.

I recommend full sun and pruning in early spring. It may take up to five years for plants to become established, and for the flowers to bloom. Do not overwater them.

Climbing Color Without the Invasiveness

I’ve totally been guilty of seeing a plant that I fell in love with and deciding I needed one for my yard, only to find that it was totally unsuited for the space.

A close up horizontal image of a large American wisteria vine growing outside a residence.

Over the years, I’ve torn out heaps of ivy, cursed trumpet vines, and lamented honeysuckle.

I’ve found that selecting the right species is the most important decision you can make when designing your garden.

Almost any vine can grow out of control if we let it sneak into an area where we don’t really want it, but none of the plants on this list are known to become invasive in the US in Zones 3 to 6. Keep on top of pruning and you’ll be fine.

Which one is your favorite? Do you have another to suggest? Let us know in the comments section below.

Not ready to end the vine-growing fun? We have more guides worth checking out. Here are just a few to read next:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.
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SK (@guest_653)
6 years ago

I would love to plant morning glory, but I read that it’s highly invasive and sends runners all over the yard, climbing on trees and suffocating other plants. Is there a variety of morning glory that is not so invasive? I live in Los Angeles, USDA Zone 10.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  SK
6 years ago

Thanks for your question, SK. There are MANY different varieties of morning glory, and all of them have a tendency to spread under the right conditions – but this is nothing that can’t be controlled in a well-kept garden. Certain species of morning glory have been known to spread in the wild, strangling other plants and taking over huge swaths of the landscape (especially in Australia). They do well in poor soil with plenty of sun and little water, so Southern California is ideal – and you’ve probably seen them in your neighbors’ yards, climbing walls and covering fences. Keep… Read more »

Jessica (@guest_4291)
Reply to  SK
5 years ago

They are beautiful but HIGHLY invasive. When I bought my house they were planted between green beans in our garden and choking them out. I ripped the out my first year in the house and almost five years later I’m still pulling out seedlings. They are stunning, just make sure you have the space for them.

EO (@guest_1121)
6 years ago

I’m looking to put up a chain link fence in our back yard and want to dress it up a bit. I was thinking of planting some Thuja trees in front of it but was also thinking of some flowering vines. What would be the best kind for us to use? I’m looking for something fast growing but won’t overtake the neighbor’s yard behind me. Any ideas?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  EO
6 years ago

Hi EO, Well, this is the trouble with vines, isn’t it? In the right conditions, they often want to spread as far as they can reach! When growing them on a fence, you will likely have to be diligent in order to prevent them from spreading into the next yard, whatever variety you choose. Overall, your selection will largely depend on your region and growing conditions- where are you located? How much sun do you get, what’s the soil like, and how is the drainage? Planting trees in front of the fence will obviously create shade at some point down… Read more »

MC (@guest_1337)
6 years ago

Hello, I am looking for a hardy vine that will do well in afternoon sun and coastal area in NJ. I need it to grow against lattice and be able to withstand the Bay winds and occasional french door opening against it. Do you have any suggestions on which vine may be best suited? Thank you so much.

Wilma Schutt
Wilma Schutt (@guest_2712)
5 years ago

I need a shade vine for a fence. Any suggestions?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Wilma Schutt
5 years ago

Where are you located, Wilma? When you say “shade vine,” are you looking for one that grows well with low light conditions, or one that might provide shade? What’s your soil like, and how tall is the fence? We’d be happy to provide some suggestions!

If you are growing in shade, the first thing that comes to mind is clematis. There are some shade-tolerant cultivars that grow well in a wide range of USDA Hardiness Zones, and you’ll get beautiful flowers.

Mike (@guest_9666)
Reply to  Wilma Schutt
3 years ago

Hops and grape vines are great shade covers with huge leaves and little maintenance. I have both on our pergolas

Victoria (@guest_12264)
Reply to  Wilma Schutt
3 years ago

Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)

Nanette (@guest_3701)
5 years ago

Hi, I’m in RI on the island of Jamestown. My front porch faces East, so morning sun until 11:30 ish. I want to put a trellis up against the railing at the back of a garden bed and plant something perennial. Would the honeysuckle thrive, if not, what about the annual – moonflower? The point of this arrangement is to create privacy on the porch. Both would smell great. Thanks in advance.

Matt Suwak
Matt Suwak(@mattsuwak)
Gardening Writer
5 years ago

Hi there Nanette, I have been through Rhode Island and enjoy the seaside very much. I think either of your selections, the honeysuckle or the moonflower, would work well. Are you hoping for this living privacy screen to be a perennial, year-round resident? If so I’d lean towards the honeysuckle with a careful eye that it doesn’t extend beyond its intended growing area. The moonflower would look gorgeous especially during the early morning hours, and it’d be easy to remove the dead plant material in the late fall or early spring. I’m a fan of almost any type of clematis… Read more »

Robi Siers
Robi Siers (@guest_3819)
5 years ago

Hi, we live in San Diego and would like a non-woody fast growing vine to cover a chain link with lattice fence. We need something that will thrive in full sun, poor soil, and in dry conditions. We are not interested in morning glory since it took over at one point and my family ended up being sensitive to the leaves touching their skin.

Thanks in advance!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Robi Siers
5 years ago

Hi Robi, San Diego ranges from USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 10b, so there are a variety of flowering fast-climbers available to you. And I hear you on the morning glory- though it is one of those plants that does well in poor conditions, it tends to take over in southern climates! In fact, many types of flowering vines can become invasive when given adequate sunlight and room to grow in warm locales, so you should be prepared to do some pruning to keep whatever you plant in check. I’ve gotta say, at first this struck me as a bit… Read more »

Jane (@guest_4094)
5 years ago

I am in the Pacific Northwest ( Humboldt County/Redwood country) and am struggling to find a climbing vine that can thrive in shade /under some apple, pear and a cedar tree and climb a wire fence. Dont want anything very invasive, but we can deal with some seed spreaders. Thank you for this wonderful site!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Jane
5 years ago

Humboldt County is large, ranging between USDA Hardiness Zones 7a and 10a. It’s true that flowering vines that thrive in shade can be difficult to find, but there are several suitable types that are available to you! Some varieties of clematis and wisteria will do well in shade. ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’ is a unique clematis cultivar with small flowers that I selected to grow up a fence in the shade of a large tree in my own garden. Be sure to double check product listings and labels to ensure that you are selecting a shade-tolerant cultivar. Trumpet vine and Dutchman’s… Read more »

KayCee (@guest_4262)
5 years ago

Please help! I’m totally stumped. We live in SLC Utah and want to do a large diamond trellis on the front of our brick house. I would prefer it to be as evergreen as it can be in utah so the trellis is not unsightly through the winter months. Also would prefer a perennial so I am not training it all over again every summer. We have a boxwood hedge in front and I love the idea of structured tidy curb appeal versus something wild and all over the place. If there is anything that has cute little flowers that… Read more »

Heather (@guest_5063)
4 years ago

We have a chain link fence with posts that are currently a little too far apart allowing dogs from both neighboring yards to get into our yard. I am considering using vine plantings at a couple positions between
posts to add privacy and anchor the chain link where they sneak through. Most is in full sun but one area is full shade. I would appreciate any advice and recommendations. (Note: My neighbors will not mind beautiful vines spilling into their yards.)