Summer is starting to simmer, making gardeners head for the shade. Lacking large trees to bask under, a pergola with a dense leafy vine growing over it is a worthy alternative for a backyard retreat. Here are 5 large, fast-growing vines that not only provide shade in summer, but are also in bloom during the hottest time of year.
1. Passion Vine
There are numerous passion vines to choose from, with flowers ranging from hot pink and coral red to cool shades of blue, white and purple. They grow from 20-40' (6-12m) in length in just a few years and are known for their intricate arrangement of petals, stamens and pistils that make them one of the most exquisite flowering plants in the world. Most are not very cold hardy, but at least one, the native maypop vine (Passiflora incarnata), is hardy down to zone 7 (0°F).
2. Climbing Roses
Why not enjoy your roses and be shaded by them, too? If you want a climbing rose that will provide shade under a pergola, make sure you get one with a sprawling vine-like habit, rather than the 'climbers' that simply have long thick canes (which don't provide much shade). A great example is the beloved heirloom variety 'New Dawn', which grows up to 20' (6m) and is covered in 3" (8cm) pink blossoms throughout the summer.
3. Climbing Hydrangea
An underappreciated vine that could be planted more, climbing hydrangea has broad leaves that create plenty of shade underneath. They are a little slow to get going after planting, but once they settle in they grow quickly to 50' (5m) or more. The white flowers resemble those from the shrubby forms of hydrangea and grow to the size of a saucer plate.
4. Cross Vine
With bright orange or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers all summer long, cross vine is a beacon for hummingbirds. It's a blessing for gardeners because it grows to 30' (9m) in just a few years and is nearly indestructible. It's native throughout eastern North America and is well-adapted to almost any soil type or irrigation regime. Cross vine almost seems to thrive on neglect, yet it is a beauty to behold.
5. Star Jasmine
This climber's white flowers are a fabulously fragrant addition to the garden and are ideal for training over an archway or pergola. The vines will up to 20' (6m) long and when trained on a pergola structure the glossy leaves create a living roof to shade your seating area. The flowers will also attract hummingbirds, for your viewing pleasure. This moderate to fast-growing plant requires minimal pruning to maintain its shape and is an evergreen that keeps its leaves year round.