Evergreen vines can do many jobs in the garden: covering unattractive walls or structures, filling a small yard with greenery by using vertical instead of ground-level space or adding a living backdrop. The number of choices you have depends on your U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone and your specific growing situation. A number of evergreen vines grow relatively quickly, but, as with any fast-growing vine, it is important to avoid those that are hardy to the point of invasiveness in your area.
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides, USDA zones 8 through 10) is not a true jasmine (Jasminum spp.), but features white, star-shaped flowers that resemble true jasmines. Growing quickly to a height of 3 to 6 feet in sun to part shade, it features twining stems and fragrant flowers in mid spring. A relative, Japanese star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum, USDA zones 7 through 11) may grow to 20 feet in part shade, with five-petaled flowers that age from white to yellow. Trachelospermum plant parts are toxic to humans if ingested.
Fragrant, with yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers in early spring, Carolina yellow jasmine or jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens, USDA zones 7 through 10) is another fast-growing evergreen vine. In sunny spots it grows up to 20 feet tall and 6 feet wide, twining when it has support, or trailing. A close relative, sun-loving swamp jessamine (Gelsemium rankanii, USDA zones 7 through 9) offers flowers similar to those of Carolina jessamine, but without scent. Reaching up to 20 feet, swamp jessamine blooms in both spring and fall. Both Gelsemium species are toxic to humans if ingested and potentially toxic to pets.
Akebia and Figs
Widely tolerant of varying light conditions and fast-growing, five-leaf akebia (Akebia quinata, USDA zones 4 through 9, depending on cultivar) grows up to 40 feet tall. Evergreen or semi-evergreen in the warmer parts of its range, akebia features twining stems and fragrant brown-purple spring flowers. It is considered invasive in a few areas. Though it may not look fig-like, climbing fig (Ficus pumila or Ficus repens, USDA zones 9 through 11) is a member of the fig family that features heart-shaped leaves. The vine climbs up to 15 feet in partly shaded locations.
Evergreen and Flowering
Many clematis (Clematis spp.) are deciduous, but Armand's clematis (Clematis armandii, USDA zones 7 through 11) is evergreen and early-blooming. Rising to 10 to 15 feet tall and almost equally wide, Armand's clematis produces white, fragrant flowers with six petals apiece. The plants thrive in sheltered, sunny locations. Creeping up to 50 feet in height by way of tendrils, cross vine (Bignonia capreolata, USDA zones 5 through 9) produces fragrant orange trumpets in late spring; though evergreen in warmer zones, foliage may turn purple in autumn and drop in the colder areas within its range.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Vines
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Jasmine
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Trachelospermum Jasminoides
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Gelsemium Sempervirens
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Ficus Pumila
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Chocolate Vine
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Plant Finder -- Bignonia Capreolata
- Humane Society of the United States: Plant Potentially Poisonous to Pets
- ASPCA Pet Care: Star Jasmine
Elisabeth Ginsburg, a writer with over 20 years' experience, earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and has done advanced study in horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Her work has been published in the "New York Times," "Christian Science Monitor," "Horticulture Magazine" and other national and regional publications.