Since ancient times, gardeners have relied on pergolas to provide the perfect showcase for climbing specimens. A pergola creates the structural support that climbing plants need to thrive. Ancient Egyptians relied on pergolas to create cool, shaded walkways. This landscaping approach was revived in the Renaissance, when Italian green thumbs incorporated pergolas into their designs. Back then pergolas were composed of wood. Today, you can enjoy the landscaping advantages that pergolas provide without the high maintenance requirements that wood demands by installing a vinyl pergola!
A wood pergola requires annual sanding and staining, if you want to maintain its original look. In contrast, our vinyl pergolas add structure and a touch of class, while requiring nothing more than an occasional wipe down with water and soap. With a vinyl pergola, you get all the benefits of an outdoor shade structure with none of the work!
As in most gardening endeavors, it’s best to begin your pergola planting with some careful planning. What are your goals for visual beauty (flowers or lush leaves?), livability (shade year-round or seasonal shade?), and energy savings (do you want temperature protection for interior rooms?). All climbing plants will cool the space under your pergola, both through shade and through transpiration, the process plants use to cool themselves down. Indeed, a patio with a plant-covered pergola may be up to fifteen degrees cooler than surrounding unprotected zones.
At the same time, different climbing plants will provide different qualities for your patio. For instance, some climbing plants create solid shade year-round, while others only create shade during the summer months. Here are a few of our favorite climbers, along with the unique traits each will bring to your pergola area.
Vines and Other Climbing Plants for your Vinyl Pergola
1. For Quick Coverage: Morning Glories. If you’re looking for a climber that will quickly cover your whole pergola during the spring and summer, morning glories are ideal. They’re gorgeous and fast-growing.
2. For Year-Round Privacy and Coverage: Climbing Hydrangea. The evergreen climbing hydrangea evolved in Mexico’s could forests to climb tall jungle canopy trees, in order to reach sunlight. Yet this lush plant is also hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It can create year-round greenery for your outdoor living area. Japanese Honeysuckle and Clematis are other great choices for evergreen climbers.
3. For Seasonal Coverage: Hops. If you’re looking for shade only in the spring and summer months, hops are an ideal choice. They’ll grow quickly in the spring, creating a lush, green oasis under your pergola. And they die back in the fall, allowing more winter sunlight into your home.
Wisteria, jasmine, and climbing roses are other favorites for outdoor structures. Whatever climbing plant you select, be sure you understand its yearly pruning requirements. For instance, a climbing rose will look wonderful—if you’re willing to put in plenty of pruning hours.
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