By Charlie Nardozzi

Our gardens get lots of fall color from shrubs, trees, and annual and perennial flowers. But you can also use climbing vines to brighten the fall landscape. Not only do some perennial climbing vines provide a screen on a fence, shade under a pergola or arbor, and decoration for a wall, but they also provide either flowers or fall leaf colors that make them attractive as well. Here are some of the best climbing vines to grow.


  • Autumn Clematis: Most gardeners are familiar with the spring- and summer-flowering clematis, but the autumn-flowering varieties can put on quite a show and provide shade as well. Try varieties such as Clematis ternifolia (yellow flowers) and Clematis paniculata (white flowers). Grow autumn clematis on a pillar, up a post, or on a trellis. The vines grow strong until they flower in fall. After flowering, the seedheads have a unique swirling shape that retains interest into late fall. Prune in spring to keep the vines in bounds.
  • Trumpet Vine: Trumpet vines (Campsis) are aggressive vines that some consider weeds. However, planted in the right spot and pruned religiously, trumpet vines can be a great late-summer and fall flowering addition to your landscape. Choose from red-, orange-, and yellow-flowering varieties such as ‘Crimson Trumpet’ (deep red flowers), ‘Indian Summer’ (orange flowers), and ‘Flava’ (yellow flowers). Plant trumpet vines on pillars, pergolas, or arbors. They may need to be trained at first to climb, but this Zone 5 perennial will soon form a woody branch structure that will support itself. To keep the vines in check, prune back wayward branches in spring to reduce the plants’ size. Trumpet vines bloom on new wood, so vigorous pruning helps stimulate more flowering. Remove seedpods in fall so the plants don’t self-sow.
  • Virginia Creeper: Virginia creeper and its cousin Boston ivy are Zone 5 perennial vines that don’t have showy flowers but do have magnificent fall foliage color. They grow up to 50 feet tall and attach to walls and buildings with suction cuplike holdfasts. Never let these vines attach to wood or vinyl siding, because they may eventually discolor and rot those surfaces due to the added moisture. They are best grown on stone, brick, and wire fencing.