When you don’t have the time or space needed to grow shade trees but you can’t live comfortably outdoors in the blistering sun, building an arbor and planting a vine to provide a cool leafy canopy may be the solution.

What kind of vines should i choose?

Many vines grow quickly and become quite large, so don’t plant four vines where one will serve better over time.

Be sure to build the shade cover large enough to shelter the space needed and high enough, typically 9 feet above the patio floor, so that as the vine drapes there’s still plenty of headroom underneath. Vines wrapped around a trellis against a wall can fit spaces too narrow for shrubs of the same height. Just remember to check the mature sizes so that you don’t plant a Great Dane where you needed a Chihuahua.

Chocolate Vine, Akebia quinata

Full Sun, Part Shade
Medium Water

Mature Size: Climbing X 15’
Blooming Season: Summer
Flower Color: Red

What’s not to love about a plant named for one of the major food groups? Alas, the common name refers to the brownish red flower color rather than the flavor of its tasty (but not even remotely chocolate) purple-brown fruits. This  graceful vine with slender stems and finely divided leaves is semi-evergreen in warm microclimates, and an asset where a light shade canopy or tracery of foliage against a north or east facing wall are needed.

Lady Banks Rose, Rosa banksiae

Full Sun, Part Shade
Low Water

Mature Size: Climbing X 40’
Blooming Season: Spring
Flower Color: Pale yellow or white

Rarely do you find a plant that is fast growing, evergreen and long-lived. Lady Banks Rose is all those things and it produces a beautiful if brief show of flowers in spring using surprisingly little water. This plant grows large and, unlike most roses, blooms on old wood. It produces the best flower show when pruned sparingly, removing a few of the oldest canes every few years.

Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens

Full Sun, Part Shade
Medium Water

Mature Size: Climbing X 8’
Blooming Season: Spring into Summer
Flower Color: Coral orange

If the sweet scent and rampant growth of honeysuckle are too much of a good thing in your opinion, Coral Honeysuckle may be the vine for you. It is unscented and one of the least aggressive members of the family, yet its brilliant flowers pro- vide plenty of nectar for hummingbirds. If you’d like a smaller sized but fragrant vine, try the hybrid Lonicera x heckrottii, Goldflame Honeysuckle, which differs in having clusters of scented gold and coral-pink blossoms.

Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans

Full Sun
Medium Water

Mature Size: Climbing X 40’
Blooming Season: Summer
Flower Color: Orange

Trumpet Vine is a hummingbird’s delight with brilliantly colored, luscious nectar- rich flowers produced over a long season. From a human point of view the caveat is to provide a strong enough support and enough space for this vigorous rambler.

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