Best Non-Invasive Flowering Vines to Grow in the North

Vines can make an excellent choice if you are looking for plants to grow on your property. They can enhance a property’s aesthetic beauty, add privacy, soften hard edges, and benefit the environment.

Vines are generally low maintenance and can be easily trained to grow on gazebos, trellises, and arbors.

Growing vines in the northern regions of the United States is easy if you know which plants to select. I have been growing non-invasive vines for years.

I will share my experience with you about which non-invasive examples work best in northern regions of the country with cold winters.

What Qualifies As Invasive?

First, let me briefly explain the difference between invasive and non-invasive plants:

Invasive plants are ones that are not indigenous to the area. Using invasive plants can cause harm to an ecosystem.

This can happen because invasive plants have a tendency to rapidly spread. Often, this occurs because the non-native plant does not have the normal predators (insects, animals, diseases, and so on) from its native region to keep it in balance.

Spreading quickly, it can prevent the growth of native plant life and destroy an ecosystem’s natural balance.

Non-invasive plants are plants that naturally grow in a particular region without any human contact or interference. This term can also sometimes be used to refer to plants that do not overtake areas and do not harm ecosystems.

5 Top Non-Invasive Vines to Grow in the North

The following five non-invasive plants all work well with gazebos, trellises, and arbors as support systems.

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Not to be confused with Japanese honeysuckle, which is highly invasive, trumpet honeysuckle is a perennial flowering vine with crimson flowers.

I have this plant on my property. We enjoy the trumpet-like flowers that the vine produces during the summer months, and so do the mockingbirds that visit our property.

It is a wonderful flowering plant for pollinators, and a brilliant addition to the cottage garden.

Reddish orange trumpet honeysuckle flowers.

This plant can grow up to fifteen feet high and is ideal for small yards. I recommend full sun and pruning in early spring.

Ours bloomed rather quickly in New Jersey, however, it may take up to five years for plants to become established, and for the flowers to bloom. Do not overwater them.

Clematis

Clematis is an annual flowering climbing plant that is often referred to as the reigning “Queen of Climbers.” I have magenta colored flowering vines on my property. The blooms often remain until autumn.

It is a good idea to prune clematis the first spring after planting. But keep in mind that different cultivars have different pruning needs.

Star-shaped blue clematis flowers.

Do not become discouraged if they do not bloom during the first year of planting. These plants need about two years to become properly established.

Clematis needs to be kept moist and most varieties require full sun, though some do grow well in partially sunny areas. Blooms are usually abundant from spring until the first frost. Clematis grows from eight to twelve feet high.

Morning Glory

Morning glories are remarkable annuals in that their seed deposits regenerate each year. We planted them once on our property, and while they are technically considered annual flowering plants, they return each year without any work or help from us!

Blue morning glories with yellow and white centers.

Their vibrant purple blooms that eagerly reseed themselves are a beautiful addition to our garden, and their vines create a privacy screen on a chain link fence adjacent to our property.

Morning glories need full sun and regular watering. This plant blooms from early summer until late fall or early winter. These can easily grow over ten feet in total length.

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea vines are perennials that take about two to three years to establish themselves. Some may take up to five years, depending on the climate. 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. The white flowers in our area come into bloom in June.

White flower clusters of climbing hydrangea.

This plant 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 thirty to fifty feet tall.

American Wisteria

American wisteria 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 wisteria that is currently thriving on a backyard wooden trellis.

Lavender-colored draping blooms of American wisteria, with fan palms growing in the background..

These plants can grow up to twenty-five feet. Wisteria needs regular pruning, and this is recommended in the summer and again in late winter.

For Beautiful Blossoms, Choose Climbers

When you purchase your vines, be sure to follow all necessary planting and training instructions given, and carefully examine the support system guidelines offered. If these aren’t available via a plant tag or information from your local nursery, do not hesitate to ask an assistant at the store. Most reputable and responsible stores now encourage the sale of non-invasive plants to their customers.

If you are uncertain about which plants are best to choose for your area, do a little research before making a commitment, and explore more of our growing guides on Gardener’s Path. A world of natural beauty awaits you.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

26 thoughts on “Best Non-Invasive Flowering Vines to Grow in the North”

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • 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 in mind- annual morning glories may become perennial in warm climates – increasing their tendency to spread. They’re eager to climb, and will climb up other plants as well as trellises and fences. Trim them back and retrain them to grow only where you want them to. Good luck!

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. 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?

    Reply
    • 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 the line, so an annual grown from seed might be your best bet. Morning glory is one of my favorites, since it requires little attention and can be grown in poor soil. And the black-eyed susan vine is another beauty that you might like to try.

      Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. 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 as far as growing vines are concerned. They can be vigorous growers and they respond to a good pruning every other year to encourage bushy growth and plenty of flowers.

    Another annual option is a mandevilla, if you’re in pursuit of something a little more tropical. These are very fast growers and will easily cover a trellis early in the growing season, but would need to replaced each year.

    Reply
  6. 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!

    Reply
    • 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 of a challenge. I live in southern California myself, and most of the plants that came to mind first were either woody – since flowering vines that grow as tender annuals in colder regions often grow as woody perennials in warm climates – or they require loamy, fertile soil to thrive. But I was able to come up with two options for you, both of which offer attractive flowers and quick growth without being too needy.

      How about cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens)? Native to Mexico, it’s a vigorous grower that’s great for covering a chain link fence, and it’s not too picky about soil conditions.

      Nasturtium is another pretty blooming option that does well in poor soil and full sun. Though many gardeners turn to it as a ground cover, it can be trained to grow up a fence. Added bonus: the flowers, buds, and leaves are all edible, if you want to experiment with adding a little bit of a peppery punch to your salads. Give them a small taste at first if this isn’t something you’ve tried before, in case of an adverse reaction. Nasturtium is also available in a variety of colors, adding to their visual interest if you want to try a few different kinds.

      Keep in mind that you will of course need to water occasionally in the summer, particularly while plants are becoming established and during periods of extreme heat.

      Reply
  7. Hello,
    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!

    Reply
    • 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 pipe also take well to shade in your region, and honeysuckle is lovely for attracting pollinators, though you will need to keep an eye on these and prune regularly to ensure that they don’t climb and spread into areas where you don’t want them. If you’re looking for foliage rather than flowers, English ivy is always worth considering through zone 8.

      Reply
  8. 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 is a bonus but really the other categories above are more important. My husband thinks this dream of mine will never work but I’m determined to make it happen

    Reply
  9. 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.)

    Reply
  10. We live in a Sacramento and after 20 years have decided we need to take out our wisteria that goes the length of our back patio on an arbor that is attached to our house. The patio is starting to lift and we are concerned about the fireplace. Also, because the roots have taken over what was the grassy area we have not been able to grow grass for the last couple of years.
    We would like to replace the wisteria with a less invasive vine that will give shade, beautiful blooms and not lift our patio. Do you have any suggestions? We thought trumpet vine but read it is just as invasive.

    Reply
  11. As a restoration forester in the Pacific Northwest I would recommend the honeysuckle plant! I would not plant clematis as there is a highly invasive type that is extremely hard to distinguish from the non invasive. Wisteria and morning glory are also a bad idea for this region unfortunately as they grow wildly out of control into habitats where they do not belong.

    Reply
  12. Please, please please will someone help me with this request please??
    I live in zone 5 (northern VA) and desperate for a non-invasive, fragrant perennial flowering vines?
    A tall order indeed, Flowering, Perennial, and a Vine!!

    Reply
    • That’s not such a tall order – here are a few options to check out:

      Lonicera periclymenum, usually known as woodbine or European honeysuckle. It grows in zones 5-9 and has fragrant flowers mid-summer to fall. It isn’t invasive in Virginia, as Japanese honeysuckle can be.

      Actinidia kolomikta, known as variegated kiwi vine. It grows in zones 4-8 and has highly fragrant flowers in April. It’s not invasive like hardy kiwi vines can be in some areas.

      Wisteria frutescens, aka American wisteria. This wisteria is native to the US. It has beautiful, fragrant flowers in April and May, and grows in zones 5-9. It isn’t invasive like Japanese wisteria.

      Reply
  13. I live in Price, Utah and have a chain link fence backed up to an unoccupied desert lot. Part of the fence will be in poor soil and only watered by precipitation. The other part will be in good soil and watered by sprinklers. We’d love flowering vines on both sections of fence. In the good soil section we were thinking of planting Swedish aspens along the fence and having flowering vines on the fence. Any recommendations?

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle – since the vines will be getting regular water, you could go with a variety of plants. It depends on whether you want an aggressive grower that may try to climb your aspens or not. Also, will the aspens prevent the plants from getting sun when they’re full grown? Honeysuckle and trumpet creeper are both reliable, if aggressive, and won’t die if the aspens hog much of the water. Clematis is a less aggressive option that can be stunning in Price (my aunt had one that was an absolute showstopper every summer). Wisteria or Dutchman’s pipe vine are other options.

      Reply
      • Thank you! So I’m thinking I like the idea of doing a variety of Clematis on the well watered side with the aspens. On the same fence line there is about 25 feet at the end that will be poor soil and poor watering. I was considering planting morning glory there. Is it likely the morning glory would choke out the clematis or even the aspens?

        Reply
  14. Hello. Will you please advise on non-invasive root problems. I’ve read wisteria can be a disaster to concrete walkway or short rock retaining wall.

    Reply

Leave a Comment