Climbing plants for winter


I live a block away from Lake Simcoe but we still get heavy winds from the lake.
I’m looking for climbing plants for 3 pergolas that I will be installing this summer. Idea is to have greenery during winter months.Please let me know your thoughts on which plants will survive and where they can be purchased.
Thank You


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Without knowing your growing conditions  it is difficult to recommend specific plants. Does the area where you are building the pergolas recive full sun, part shade or full shade? Do you have sandy soil or have you ammended your soil over the years with organic matter?

You mention that you would like to look at greenery during the winter months. Unfortunately, there is only one evergreen vine which is hardy enough for your area is Euonymus fortunei-Bigleaf Winter Creeper. This vine holds its leaves over the winter.  It should be noted that this plant is considered invasive in certain areas. It spreads both vegetatively and by animal and water dispersed seeds. The other problem that you may have with it is euonymus scale, which can be controlled nicely using dormant oil during the summer months.

If you are looking for a deciduous vine you might want to consider Dutchman’s pipe ( Aristolochia macrophylla ). This vine grows best in full sun to part shade in moist well drained soil. This is a twining vine that will grow 6-9 meters in height. This vine has a unique pipe-shaped yellow flowers which bloom in late spring to early summer.

Goldflame Honeysuckle ( Lonicera x heckrottii ) grows best in full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil. This twining vine reaches 4-6 meters and produces pink flowers with yellow centers from late spring to early fall.

Chocolate vine ( Akebia quinata ) grows best in full sun but will tolerate part shade. The vine produces glossy dark green leaves that are oval-shaped, and grow in clusters of five. Vines produce many dangling purple flowers with three petals in the spring (ranging from March to May). It should be noted that this vine is quite aggressive and needs frquent pruning to keep it under control.

 Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia ) grows in full sun to part shade in sandy, clay and loamy soil. It can reach 30-50′. Like chocolate vine, this vine requires regular pruning to keep it under control. Its leaves have five leaflets and morph from their summer green into a fall foliage color ranging from reddish-orange to burgundy.

American Wisteria ( Wisteria frutescens ) grows best in full sun to partial shade in moist, humus rich, well-drained soil. this vine if left can reack 15m long. Like most vines, it requires regular pruning to keep it under control and keep it flowering.

Unfortunately, the thin stems of clematis do not lend this plant as a good choice for a windy site. Similarily, climbing hydrangea and Artic Kiwi require a sheltered spot.

You might like to check out the following article: Mark Cullen: For more shade and privacy, plant vines

Happy Planting!