enter image description here I have an arbor over a walkway, under a large tree. I want to find a vine that will grow on this under these conditions:

  • dry clay based topsoil
  • medium shade all day
  • USDA hardiness zone 6b
  • lots of bird activity

The arbor is 4' wide and 7' tall, with lattice on the sides for the vine to climb on, and the top is designed for the vines to intertwine in. The vine should preferably have most of these characteristics:

  • evergreen foliage
  • free branching habit
  • perennial woody vines
  • good disease resistance
  • moderate growth

In no particular order of preference

Akebia, the Chocolate vine fragrant purplish or reddish flowers, semi evergreen, pest and disease free, flowers have an edible pulp-any type of soil, tolerates shade. Downsides: plant two for fruit production, not a native North American plant, might be too vigorous if it likes it

Celastrus scandens, bittersweet, highly coloured red berries encased in yellow shells, tolerates shade, attracts birds, north american native plant, any soil. Downsides: berries are poisonous to humans, may be too vigorous with growth to 30 feet, best cultivars may be hard to find, need a male and female plant. Newest cultivar 'Bailumn' is self fertile (or a graft), larger berries or you may find a combo plant of 'Hercules' and 'Diana' the older cultivars

Humulus Lupulus, Hops, for the beer maker in your home!, vigorous, tolerates shade, interesting fruiting structures Downsides: not native, likely will die down to the ground

As I am bored with what everyone else has I am growing this plant from seed: Kentucky wisteria, fragrant purplish flowers Downsides: probably needs more light, not interesting to birds, only available from seed where I live, see Gardens North

Edit: Whether a vine is evergreen is not always easy to determine as climatic factors play a part. A euonmyus plant is evergreen in zone 6 but not necessarily so in zone 5.
The wisteria and hops are the least likely to be evergreen in zone. The most likely is the Akebia. Look around for bittersweet vines in your local botanical garden or nursery for information on how they will behave for you.


Akebia would be the only one that might work with your specifications. Have you considered moving the arbor where there is more sun, better soil? A better place for a plant to survive?

A woody, evergreen vine like the Akebia will get very heavy. It is a slow grower, but in 3-5 years it would squash this arbor with its weight alone. Snow will bring the plant and arbor down sooner.

An arbor this delicate should be matched with a more delicate perennial vine such as clematis or a passion flower vine. Most vines that flower or produce a fruit need more sun to be healthy. You might get one to grow in the shade but you'd get little flower, fruit and would have to be vigilant for insects and disease.

What is this arbor leading people into? What about moving it out to one of those paved nooks? Use it as a backdrop for a bench? Can this arbor be anchored or supported better? I think you should think about moving this arbor somewhere else more amenable for a vine giving you more choices. Without adding any more support, choose one that dies back to the ground every winter. Not hops. My favorite vine! It would cover this little arbor so fast all you'd see would be a huge pile of leaves! Send a picture of your yard and let's reconsider its placement?!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.