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5 Pretty Vines for Your Partial Shade Garden

Are you looking for a pretty vine to grow in your partial shade garden? Several vines can grow well in those shadier spots, even when they typically prefer full sun. Read on to discover 5 of our favorites.

Apios americanus grows in partial shade.

Apios americana photo via Helena Jacoba/Flickr Creative Commons

1. American Groundnut

This attractive vine (Apios americana ) is native to the Eastern United States. The perennial (Zones 3 to 9) grows best in moist, well-drained soil that gets partial shade to full sun. Fragrant flowers bloom in summer and attract butterflies.

The edible tubers were eaten by the pilgrims, and are delicious cooked in stews and soups today.

A sweet potato vine in bloom grows in partial-shade

Sweet potato vine photo via Sarowen/Flickr Creative Commons

2. Sweet Potato Vine

It’s true that sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) grows well in full sun. But this fast-growing vine often prefers dappled light or partial shade in hot, dry climates. I’ve found this pretty vine actually likes morning sun, afternoon shade in my coastal California garden (Zone 9).

Sweet potato vine foliage is available in everything from chartreuse to nearly black. Give this vine moist, well-drained soil for best results. Sweet potato vine is a great “spiller” in containers and garden beds. Let it drape from planters, or use it as a colorful ground cover. Just don’t let the name fool you; this plant is grown for its ornamental leaves, not to eat.

akebia is a pretty vine that grows in partial shade

Akebia quinata photo via carrieonknitting/Flickr Creative Commons

3. Chocolate Vine

This pretty vine (Akebia quinata) grows in full sun to partial shade. In some areas, such as the eastern United States, this perennial (Zones 4 to 8) can be invasive and crowd out native plants. While in other areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, it is enjoyed by many gardeners without problems. So, check first to see if this vine is a problem or a pleasure in your region before you plant it.

Native to Japan, China and Korea, the attractive chocolate vine grows well in most soil, but particularly likes sandy loam. The fragrant flowers bloom in the spring with chocolate-purple petals. It adds a pretty and old-fashioned look to the garden.

Boston ivy is a vine that grows in partial shade, although the fall color will not be as red.

Boston ivy photo via tjblackwell/Flickr Creative Commons

4. Boston Ivy

Boston ivy is the deciduous vine (Parthenocissus) you see growing on the walls and fences of the famous Ivy League schools. The fast-growing perennial vine can grow up 6 to 8 feet a year, so keep that in mind before you plant it. Once this vine is growing on something, it becomes much harder to remove. Prune Boston ivy in spring to help control its size. (Zones 4 to 8).

In the fall, the foliage turns a brilliant red. This color is best enjoyed when Boston ivy is grown in sunny locations, although the vine will grow well in part-sun and shady spots too. Water the plant well after planting; Boston ivy becomes more drought-tolerant when established.

 Nelly moser clematis can bloom in partial shade gardens.

Nelly Moser clematis via Baerchen57/Flickr Creative Commons

5. Clematis

There’s an old saying about growing clematis vines: keep their roots in the cool shade and their flowers in the warm sun. Most clematis grow best in full sun, more than 6 hours day, but several varieties will even bloom in partial shade, including ‘Nelly Moser.’

The low-maintenance, perennial vine (Zones 4 to 9) will attract lots of pollinators to your garden. Grow clematis to drape over fences, arbors or trellises, where the colorful flowers can be enjoyed. This vine can grow up to 20 feet long, with blossoms ranging from purple and red to pink and white.

Have you tried growing any partial shade vines in your garden?

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4 Comments

Dottie

I love clematis vines. I have bought and tried many. My problem is planting them and attaching them to a support. Do I plant it in front of of or in back of support.?

Reply
Brenda

I’ve read once a clematis dies in any spot, it leaves some type of chemical change in that soil which will prevent other clematis from growing there.
As silly as that sounds, I found it true, and after a few attempts put in artichoke/rubechkia that went 7’tall with gorgeous sunny yellow blooms.

Reply
Phil

Also double check what type of clematis you have. I mad the mistake of buying one and trimming it the same way as an old one i used to have at two feet of the ground every fall ….and it never flowered very much. I then found out that the old clematis flowered on new shoots each year and the new one flowers on old wood …so don’t trim it. Once i learnt that lesson, now it looks great 🙂

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