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Patio Cover Plants

Top 10 vines for pergolas, patio covers, and arbors

  • pergola vines Leafy grape vines bring this pergola to life.

Should you grow vines on your patio cover?


  • Beautiful
  • Filtered shade
  • Aroma
  • Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds


  • Messy - may drop leaves and debris
  • Maintenance - requires sweeping and trimming
  • Attracts bees, wasps and spiders
  • Can be a good hiding spot for snakes and lizards
  • Weight of vines and fruit can cause structural damage
  • Vines retain moisture and promote wood rot

While some homeowners opt for the clean lines of a plant free pergola, vines will bring your structure to beautiful life. Living, breathing plants not only contribute shade and privacy (see Landscaping for Privacy), they also offer color, freshness, and soft, romantic fragrance. This helps create the ambiance most people want in garden living in the first place.

  • Pro Tip: Hard prune vines once each year in the Fall season to prevent them from getting too large or adding too much weight to the structure. Routine pruning also deters birds and rodents from nesting in the thatch, a common concern with overgrown vines.
    - Scott Cohen, The Green Scene

In addition, growing vines over your patio covers improves shade and helps cool off the patio area. To cool themselves off, people perspire, but did you know plants do the same thing? It's called transpiration and plants actually evaporate moisture to cool themselves off. This transpiration effect works like nature's own mist system and can actually cool a patio area by as much as 15 degrees! Below are my top ten favorite patio cover plants. Check your local nursery for these or comparable specimens.

  • Pro Tip: If you want to grow grapes on your pergola, attach the vines to the structure from below. The birds can't clean out the fruit and it is beautiful in summer.
    - Paul C. Westberg

Top Ten Vines for Patio Covers:

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Bougainvillea Vibrant colors, full sun, sometimes thorny. Great for warmer climates, frost sensitive.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Royal Trumpet Vine (Distictis riversii) Showy Lavender flowers with a red throat. Full sun to partial shade.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Carolina Jessamine Fragrant yellow blossoms smell like Jasmine. Full to partial sun. Evergreen vine. Toxic when ingested.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Passion Flower (Passifflora) Large blue to purple unique flowers that look like they could be from outerspace. Some varieties produce "Passion fruit".

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides, Bignonia jasminoides) Partial sun to partial shade. White to pink flowers. Very clean.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

"Chinese Jasmine" (Jasminum polyanthum) Very fragrant pink or white flowers with pink throats. Evergreen climber. Easy maintenance.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Wisteria Fragrant flower blossoms hang in clusters from deep green and dense foliage. Purple, blue and white. Very messy when blooming , also loses leaves in Fall. Seed pods that form in late summer can be toxic to dogs when eaten.

White Potato Vine (solanum jasminioides) Abundant show of white flowers on dense foliage of smaller green leaves. Hardy. Sun to partial shade. Blooms frequently in mild climates.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

"Alice Dupont" Pink Alamanada (Mandevilla amoena) Large pink flowers. Full to partial sun. Quick draining soil a must. Poor in high wind areas.

The Green Scene
Chatsworth, CA

Climbing Roses Many varieties of roses have long pliable canes and can be easily trained to grow up patio cover posts. With roses come a little extra maintenance and more frequent pruning. My favorites are : "Joseph's Coat" multi-colored flowers, "Golden Showers" bright yellow, "New Dawn" lite pink, and "Fourth of July" red and white flowers.

See more Landscaping Plants

Contributing Author:

Scott Cohen, contributing writer for Landscaping Network and owner of The Green Scene

Related Reading:

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