Crystal Valley Blog

Fast-Growing Vines for Your Pergola or Trellis

POSTED June 1, 2023

Many perennial climbers put on good growth soon after spring planting. For example, most summer-flowering clematis will reward with blooms in the first season. That’s why covering a pergola or trellis with them can be a beautiful embellishment to outdoor living space. With a pergola, the plants will offer sun protection in time, and on a trellis – privacy from nearby neighbors! 

While it’s hard to choose from among the plants that grow quickly and thrive in Colorado’s climate, here are a few climbing options for our Zone 5 summers and winters. (Many thanks to the The Spruce and Gardening Knowhow for the expert advice below!)

1. Clematis

Clematis (Ranunculaceae) is a beautiful flowering vine that wins a lot of popularity contests. And while there are different varieties of clematis, the experts at Tagawa Gardens favor two bright blue and purple favorites, the Jackman and the Polish Spirit. Both have bright-colored purple  (one royal, one rich) flowers and are nearly indestructible. And if you’ve never grown a clematis before, this would be a great variety to start with!
Size: 10 feet tall and 24 inches wide
Zone: 5
How to Grow: Keep the roots cool by mulching them well. These clematis should be watered to a depth of three inches each week, but make sure the top two inches are dry before watering it again. In extreme heat, it may need to be watered twice a week. Again, when it rains, stop watering. They need full or partial sun to survive and thrive.

2. Silver Lace Vine 

Silver Lace (Polygonum aubertii) is one of the fastest growing vines so if you have a large area that needs screening quickly, try this rampant, sweet- smelling vine. The sprays of white blossoms that coat the plant from summer to fall reach to six inches long. At this time of year, nurseries’ inventories are fast being depleted, so you almost have to take a trip to the plant purveyor to see what they have in stock.
Size: 20 to 30 feet
Zone: 5
How: Give this plant a sturdy support in a carefully chosen area, as it can easily swallow small arbors or trellises.

3. Five-leafed Akebia 

The Akeba (Akebia quinata) has delicate leaves made up of five-leaflets make this an unusual vine for jazzing up your landscape. The lightly scented flowers hang in pendulous clumps.
Size: 20 feet long or more
Zone: 5a
How: Pop this climber in full sun to light shade; it won’t fruit here, says Murgel. But it will ramble up a tree, so periodically loosen it to ensure that it doesn’t girdle branches.

4. Wisteria

Classic, elegant wisteria (Wisteria species) drapes deep purple flowers on a woody, long-lived vine. Perfumed and showy, wisteria needs permanent support, such as a dramatic arbor or doorway arch.
Size: 30 feet
Zone: 5
How to grow: Because the flower buds swell early, put wisteria in a protected location to keep late frosts from nipping blossoms. Once established, prune them twice per year: a light pruning in midsummer to remove wispy growth and a hard pruning back to two buds per branch in winter. Don’t let them dry out.

5. Honeysuckle 

Honeysuckle vines are (Lonicera species) a favorite of many people — all over the state — since they’re showy all summer and attract hummingbirds. Look for the Blanche Sandman variety, a showstopper wreathed in pink-orange blossoms with golden throats.
Size: 20 feet
Zone: 5a
How: Full sun, even moisture and something to climb are all that it takes to grow Blanche Sandman. Once established, keep it tidy by an occasional light pruning after the danger of hard frost has passed.

6. Passion Flower

The Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) and it’s showy, purple flowers also entice hummingbirds to hang around your garden, happily visiting the blooms covering the vine. The lobed, deep green leaves provide a backdrop that makes the flowers pop.
Size: To 25 feet long
Zone: 5a
How: Plant in a protected site, mulching thickly to protect the roots while the top dies down to the ground during the winter. Passion Flower vines spread via roots, so if you’d like to contain it, plant in a large container and move it into the garage for the winter.

Grape Vines in Colorado

Grapes are a yummy summer fruit and if you plant grape vines, you can even use the wrappers to make stuffed grape leaves! But one caution before you plant your favorite vintage, grape vines can grow up to 115 feet long. And if you want your vines to produce grapes, pruning is a must. For the first couple years of their lives, a grape vine will need about an inch of water a week, depending on rain. But older vines rarely need to be watered. They also do best with a full day of sun and will produce less fruit with less light.

Zone 5 grape varieties include Concord, Fredonia, Gewurztraminer, Niagara, and Catawba. There are many other cultivars suited to zone 5, but these are some of the most popular. 

A Cautionary Tale

Choose your vines carefully according to your space as the more vigorous perennials can take over within a few years. Don’t be seduced by the high-speed claims of Russian Vine, also known as swine of a vine, devil of a vine and mile-a-minute for very good reason!

Unless you have a large space or structure to cover, this creeper can take over faster than you can say pretty pergola!

Growing Up in Crystal Valley!

Enjoy life in Castle Rock within minutes from the master-planned community of Crystal Valley – where nature is around every corner of the neighborhood! Looking for a new home you can add your signature style to? Check out the beautiful model homes from Kauffman Homes, Taylor Morrison, D.R. Horton, and Richmond American Homes. Picture yourself in your very own dream house – ranch-style or two-story models priced from the $500s.


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