Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
What are the best plants for pergolas?
Because of their unique structure, not all plants are well-suited for pergolas. Instead, you want something that either climbs and trails.
This will allow them to cover part or almost the entire structure to create a lovely effect.
Just as importantly, you don’t want it to look bland. As such, all-green vines don’t make our list. In their place, we have plants that produce lovely blooms of varying colors, sizes and shapes that will let you choose the one perfect for your backyard.
Best Plants for Pergolas
Wisteria ranks among the most popular plants for pergolas because of their unique look and lovely color. Purple is the most common color of the plant that’s seen. But, this beautiful trailing vine also comes in varieties that feature white, red, blue and a few other hues.
Left unpruned or untrimmed, it will grow up to 15 to 25 feet long and cover a breadth of up to 8 feet. This makes its lovely purple flowers cascade down from the top of your pergola creating a very distinct visual appeal.
Do note that they need fertile soil to grow. And, they are fragrant. These scents vary from the musky to the sweet. So, you may want to choose between the 8 to 10 or so different wisteria varieties to see which ones you like most.
If you’re a fan of warm, bright colors, then the Bougainvillea is a great plant for your pergola. It varieties offer a variation of red hues ranging from the red rose colored ones to some that are more purple-red in color.
These shrubs get dense as well which make them amazing to look at in your pergola. And, they’ll grow to between 15 and 40 feet if left alone. You can trim them as needed to produce the look you want.
While the reddish colored ones are the most popular, you can likewise opt for other less common ones like the white or yellowish tones.
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As its name suggests, these are roses. And, they’ve evolved to be climbers. Thus, you have the perfect combination for pergolas, trellises and arbors.
When choosing plants for vertical structures, you’ll often want some kind of climber as these will cover the pillars as well as the top.
Climbing roses are considered mutations or hybrids of the most popular flower for Valentines. They are long for having very long canes making them perfect for your pergola since you can train it to grow up and around the structure.
There are over 250 species of clematis to choose from. This makes them an amazing choice in terms of looks, color and texture. Of the different types of clematis, you want choose those that are climbing vines or trailing in nature.
The former will cover your pergola as they grow. That latter can be grow on top of the pergola and allowed to cascade downwards to create a different effect.
What makes them stand out is are their beautiful large bell-like blooms which feature 6-7 petals and grow to about 5 to 6 inches each.
Another great option if you love filing your pergola with beautiful blossoms is the passionflower vine. These will cover all sorts of surfaces, even walls and fences.
They can climb to as high as 30 feet high. Thus, all you need to do is decide when to trim them once they’ve covered enough of the structure.
Their most attractive feature are their unqie-looking flowers that come in a variety of colors. Pink, white and purple are among the popular choices. But, they’ll see others as wells.
Their blooms get to as big as 3 inches wide and are very prolific. So, you don’t have to worry about lack of color.
Pink Jasmine is also known as the Jasmine vine because of its ability to grow stems that are up to 30 feet long. This beautiful climber is hardy to USDA zones 7 to 10. So, they do prefer moderate to slightly warm weather.
Originating from China and Myanmar, this vine is best known for its fragrant blooms. They carry a lovely sweet scent.
And, while their flowers are not as big as the clematis, they’re very abundant. So, you’ll see your pergola filled with white and green colors from the flowers and foliage.
Climbing honeysuckle are another lovely pergola plant. But, unlike some of the others which produce amazing blooms the beauty of its flowers is when they’re allowed to grow in bunches.
Thus, you want your honeysuckle to get dense on the top side of your pergola to see is colors shine.
Like many other plants, water is one of the most important things for this climber. It needs ample watering and ideally fertile soil. As such, adding compost goes a long way in helping it grow bushy and full.
Trumpet vines get their name because of the shape of their flowers. Their unique look combined with the bright colors (often red, orange or yellow) combine very well with wooden pergolas as they make it look lively thanks to their summer colors.
Speaking of which, their flowers bloom from summer through fall. But, in order to get the most of out them, you want to avoid shady conditions. These lovely flowers need sunlight to shine.
Climbing hydrangeas are one of my favorites. That’s because they’re very prolific and have good-sized blooms. Thus, they’re very popular with homeowners who set up trellises around their home.
By allowing them to climb up, you can fill an entire wall, fence or even side of the house if you wanted. The plant can climb as high as 80 feet.
That said, do make sure that the structure is sturdy. As with most plants with bigger blooms, they’ll weigh more as they become bushy. So, you don’t want to have a delicate pergola that won’t be able to withstand the entire weight of the vine once it has engulfed it.
Image from Pinterest
In case you’re looking to fill up your pergola fairly quickly, the chocolate vine is an amazing option.
This is a vigorous spreading vine that grows quite fast. Plus, it is very easy to train.
From its name, you can already surmise it exudes a chocolate scent. This is most prevalent during springtime.
On the other hand, its flowers are well-known for their purple color which is most apparent as the weather gets cold.
Left untrimmed, fragrant twining vine will grow up to 40 feet.
From afar, Star Jasmine on a pergola produces a very similar effect to Pink Jasmine above, albeit a bit more subtle.
But, as you look closer, you’ll start to see its very distinguishing star-shaped petals from where it gets its name. It likewise has a different fragrance.
While it has a similar sweet scent as other jasmines, you can quickly tell the smell is different as this species’ aroma is more like a cross between the ylang-ylang and a true jasmine.
That said, one of the best features it has is it requires very minimal care. So if you don’t want a plant that’s fusses a lot, this is a good option.
It needs full sun but will do well in partial shade. It can likewise tolerate heavy shade but avoid this if you want a pergola filled with white blooms.
Bower vines are evergreen climbers that does not shed a lot. This makes it a good option if you don’t like having to sweep a lot.
It also thrives in partial sun or shade. Although, it will likewise do well in full sun. It is hardy to USDA zones 8 to 12.
Additionally, it makes our list because it is a fast grower and attracts hummingbirds.