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The Best Plants for Patio Covers

Patio cover vines should grow fast and add color, texture and interest.

While a plain pergola or arbor has some appeal with its clean lines, covering it with plants adds texture and color to your patio, as well as cover that can provide much-needed shade. Vines are the best plants for a patio cover, and can add privacy, as well as a relaxed atmosphere.

Sun-loving Bloomers

Vines that flower best in full sun make ideal patio covers. For example, bougainvillea vines love full sun locations and add vibrant color to your patio with flowers in shades of purple, pink, red and yellow. They’re hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, and grow to between 15 and 40 feet. Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), which is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, is another colorful vine that loves full sun. This vine grows to between 12 and 20 feet, and its yellow funnel-shaped flowers appear from February to April. Red passion flower (Passiflora coccinea), which is hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, produces stunning scarlet flowers and edible fruit. This vine also flowers best in full sun.

Rapid Climbers

If you need a vine to cover your pergola quickly, bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) may be the right choice. This vine is hardy in USDA zones 9b through 11 and thrives in full sun to partial shade. It produces white flowers with pink throats in the summer, fall and winter. Bower vine has twining stems and glossy green foliage, and while it grows rapidly, it has an open, fine-textured appearance. Another fast-grower ideal for a patio cover is pink jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), also referred to as winter jasmine or Chinese jasmine. This vine is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11, and is a twining vine that produces fragrant white flowers in late winter and spring. This sun-loving vine is usually a prolific bloomer.

Romantic Twiners

Wisteria vines produce fragrant flowers and feature stems and foliage that bring to mind romantic southern gardens, with clusters of flowers that hang from dense green foliage. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, is an attractive variety that grows in a clockwise-twining manner to 40 feet or more. Its fragrant, lilac-purple flowers droop from the vine from April to May. Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda 'Rosea') is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9, and grows up to 25 feet in a similar twining habit as American wisteria. Its pink-tipped purple flowers appear in May and are showy and extremely fragrant. Both species flower best in full sun, and do well on a sturdy support such as a pergola.

Old Favorites

Climbing roses have long been a garden favorite, and make an ideal cover for patio arbors and pergolas. While they require more care and maintenance than other vines, needing deep watering and regular pruning to ensure good air circulation, roses offer a traditional appeal as well as color and fragrance to your patio. Rosa "Joseph's Coat,” which is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, is a good choice for those who prefer lots of color with its vibrant orange-red buds that open to display petals edged with golden yellow tapering to pinkish orange-red. Rosa “New Dawn” is a fast-growing rose that is also hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, and produces lightly fragrant, large, creamy-pink flowers. It thrives in full sun to partial shade, although its best flowering occurs in full sun.

About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

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Miller, Renee. "The Best Plants for Patio Covers." Home Guides | SF Gate, Accessed 03 April 2019.

Miller, Renee. (n.d.). The Best Plants for Patio Covers. Home Guides | SF Gate. Retrieved from

Miller, Renee. "The Best Plants for Patio Covers" accessed April 03, 2019.

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