13 Best Pergola Plants

What are the best plants for your pergola? First, let’s quickly look at what a pergola is! A pergola is an open structure design with pillars that support flat cross beams and latticework, often covered with plants.

People use pergolas as a trellis with climbing plants on a walkway or protecting some full sun outdoor living space. The best pergola plants grow fast covering the structure requiring minimal care. Pergola vines and climbing plants vary in size, appearance, and growth habit.

Vine growing on a pergolaPin

Most of these are flowering plants and vines which add color to the structure and landscape. Some gardeners combine plants with different blooming seasons to help extend the “season of color.”

It’s therefore paramount to ensure that the pergola design is strong enough to support several climbing plants. Although most climbing plants are self-clinging, others require some assistance to attach themselves to the pergola structure.

Below Is A Rrun Down Of Some Of The Best Plants For Your Pergola

Jewel of Africa Nasturtium Flower

Nasturtium flowersPin

The Nasturtium vine is available with various appealing mandevilla colors like maroon, orange, salmon, yellow apricot shade and red. Besides, the combination of green leaves and the colorful flower makes the pergola look very beautiful.

They grow in yards, fences, trellis and as a garden cover. Nasturtium grow best in full sun and bloom from June to September. They are easy to grow and flourish if they are maintained with care.


bright colored clematis flowerPin

Henryi clematis has beautiful daisy-shaped flowers has beautiful daisy-shaped flowers with dark green foliage that provide the best sight in summer.

Its flower vines look very wonderful falling over a pergola. The flowers grow best when given direct sunlight.

It starts blooming at the start of summer and is seen throughout the summer. Henryi clematis reaches 6′ feet and the flower has a width of 24″ inches to 3′ feet. This flower is quite stunning with a creamy color that is dark in the middle and it is favorite among gardeners.



The flowers of the honeysuckle have a fragrance that is nostalgic and it multiplies when dusk sets. It has more than 180 different species and a number of them are creepers. It is a large vine that grows rapidly. One single plant of the honeysuckle can cover a big sturdy pergola very easily.

Grape Vine

This is one of the best climbing plants for pergolas. The plant will not only give shade and a warm sitting area, but also juicy grapes as well. It can be grown in a variety of climates. The grape vines are natives of central Asia, southwest Asia, America, and the Mediterranean and therefore the cultivars are widely available.

Blue Moon Wisteria


The Wisteria plant grows in red, blue, purple and white color. It blooms vigorously during spring and can spread 4′ to 8′ feet and reach a height of 15′ to 25′ feet. The vine produces flowers by the third year of planting and needs full sun.

The well-drained soil should be somewhat acidic and fertile. When planting this vine plant as a pergola plant it should be supported well during the early stages. Blue moon wisteria needs a lot of maintenance and is the best to grow on pergolas.

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

trumpet vine flowersPin

The trumpet vine has showy flowers that are trumpet-shaped. The flowers can appear in different colors such as orange, yellow or red. They attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.

Trumpet vines look great on pergolas and grows best in full sun and partial sun. The plant reaches a height of 25′ to 40′ feet. The flowers need sunlight, but the leaves can grow well in the shade too.


red flowering bougainvilleaPin

Bougainvillea has got climbing varieties that are suited for pergolas. It is disease resistant and pest free. It is considered the best climbing plant for shade. The plant spreads with full elegance even when planted in a small pot.

It grows in equatorial climate and do not like extreme cold weather or excess rainfall. The most frequently cultivated are the pink, red, yellow and purple colors, but there are many other colors available. The best season for North America is fall or spring.

Climbing Hydrangea


This pergola with vines is rewarding because of its glossy heart shaped foliage and its fragrant white flowers that appear in clusters during spring to summer.

The plant is a slow grower and it needs training and pruning. Climbing hydrangea can be grown in colder regions within USDA Zones 5-8.

Golden Hops

This is a fast growing vine that quickly cover pergolas and even arches. They can grow to 8 meters long without difficulty. The lime green or yellowish foliage is what makes it beautiful. Golden hops is a low maintenance hardy vine that does well in cold climates (USDA Zones 4-8). Not good for warm climate.

Butterfly Pea

Clitoria Ternatea Flower Butterfly PeaPin

The flowers of butterfly pea – Clitoria ternatea are the best food for butterflies. It is a legume and both its flowers and seed pods are edible. The shiny deep blue flowers are the most attractive thing in the plant. It is a tropical vine that grows best in zones 10 and 11 with afternoon sun. It can be grown as an annual in cold temperate zones.

Bleeding Heart


If you are searching for a climber for shade, the bleeding heart plant is perfect. The flowers are heart shaped and look very exotic. The Bleeding Heart requires moist soil and locations that receive partial sun. Suitable for cold temperate climates and can be grown in USDA Zones 3-9.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Close up of the sweet pea flower LathyrusPin

When growing the perennial sweet pea flower over the pergola avoid growing the bush type varieties. It should be planted in the sun and well-drained soil.

It grows best in warm zones in the fall and winter. In temperate zones plant this vine during spring or summer.

Sweet peas grow to a height of 8′ feet. It requires a lot of attention as it is prone to pests and bugs.

Passiflora – Passion Flower

beautiful passion flower vine bloomPin

The Passion flower vine grows well and prefers a frost-free climate. Some varieties can handle temperatures into the upper 20° degrees Fahrenheit without serious damage.

The Passion flower shows off all its glory with blooms from mid-summer to early fall with its fragrant and attractive flowers. For more about the exotic passion flower read our detailed article here.

Clytostoma Callistegioides – Lavender Trumpet Vine

Lavender trumpet vine flowering - ClytostomaPin

The lavender trumpet vine comes from Brazil and Argentina and is a strong grower.

Violet or lavender 3″ inch flowers, produced from March to May in panicles. The leaves are often simple, on flowering twigs with wavy margins.

The vine wants full or part sun and fertile soil growing in California and Florida.

Zephirine Drouhin Rose

The Zephirine Drouhin rose are among the best climbing roses. The canes of these rose plants are thorn-free and they have a beautiful alluring color. The canes are also flexible making them easy to wrap around pergolas. They grow to 15′ feet tall. The unique flowering does not need much sunlight and can blossom well in shadows.

Honorable Mention

Below are several plants you’ll also find wrapped around and growing up pergolas and other garden structures.

  • Carolina jessamine
  • Morning Glory

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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