Vine Plant With Purple Flowers | 10 Stunning Varieties

Vines and other climbing plants can be a welcome departure from typical shrubs and low-growing ornamentals. They fill a particular niche in the art of landscape design — you can’t fill a space meant for a vine with any other plant and expect great results!

Though vines come in many shapes and styles, flowering varieties are most popular for very good reasons. These stunning climbers bring rich color and texture to arbors, retaining walls, fences, and countless other structures within the everyday lawn or garden.

In this article, I’ll be focusing on the various vine plants with purple flowers you might see throughout your neighborhood or for sale at a local greenhouse.

Types of Vining Plants

To the untrained eye, a vine is just a vine. But these plants can actually be categorized according to HOW they climb. 

I recommend learning a bit about each category before you add vines to your own landscape. Certain vines can cause damage to structural surfaces or need specific maintenance in order to be successful, and you’ll want to know about these requirements well before any new plants go into the ground!

Clingers

Clinging vines are sometimes called ‘self-climbers.’ They tend to be the most self-sufficient in terms of finding and adhering to climbable surfaces, but can also be a bit aggressive in some environments.

Clingers typically use botanical structures like aerial roots or adhesive pads to grab onto things like large tree trunks, masonry, or wooden fences. While these structures are very good at their job, it’s also easy to see how they can cause damage to certain building materials and even fellow plants.

Common examples of clingers include ivy, Virginia creeper, trumpet vine, and climbing hydrangea.

Twiners

Twining vines wrap around support structures like lengths of holiday garland. Young shoots are very pliable so they can coil around available supports. (When observed under timelapse, you can actually see such shoots moving around in search of a suitable object to start wrapping around.)

These plants are very adaptable and will climb up wires, ropes, metal posts, and more. However, perennial twiners can get incredibly large and heavy after several years, so you need to plan far ahead to prevent damage to the support and its surroundings.

Note that twiners are often the most at risk of choking out other plants due to their constrictor-like growth habits.

Some examples of twining vines include wisteria, jasmine, morning glory, and pole bean.

Tendril Climbers

Tendrils are modified stem or leaf tissues that curl around small structures to support a vine as it climbs. Despite the fact that only a select number of climbing plants produce tendrils, these structures are more or less synonymous with vines as a whole. 

The thing to keep in mind for tendril-producing vines is that they need thin, dense support structures (i.e., string, chain link fencing, or neighbouring plant stems) to effectively climb. You can’t expect plants in this category to climb a wooden privacy fence or stone wall.

Sweet pea, grapevine, and passionflower all climb primarily using tendrils. Clematis plants use their petioles (leaf stems) as makeshift tendrils — some people instead classify clematis as a twining vine.

Scramblers/Ramblers

Scrambling or rambling vines generally can’t climb very far without a helping hand. Unless secured to a wall, arbour, or similar structure, most scramblers will form sprawling mounds rather than climbing straight up.

While these plants are well-suited to vigorous vertical growth, they lack botanical structures like tendrils or aerial roots to effectively support themselves. Thorns are usually the only means these plants have of grabbing onto nearby structures.

The two primary examples of scrambling vines are climbing rose and bougainvillaea. 

10 Vines With Purple Flowers

If there’s a spot in your garden you know would look just great with twining or scrambling vine, it’s hard to settle for anything less. While you need to also take into account your local climate and the general site conditions (i.e., things like sun and soil type), there’s bound to be a purple-flowered vine on this list that’s up to the task.

In addition to giving you some inspiration for potential plants to add to your garden, this list should also help you determine the ideal location for each variety I’ve included.

1. Clematis

Clematis

Clematis spp.

  • Type: Twining/tendril
  • Hardiness: 4 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full sun

I’m sure clematis is the first vine plant with purple flowers that immediately comes to mind for most gardeners. It is also sometimes known as a leather flower. There are many varieties of clematis on the market but ‘Jackmans’ clematis’ is by far the most popular one.

Where To Grow: Clematis vines need full sun. They aren’t super picky about soil quality as long as the ground is well-draining. You can grow clematis as a perennial in USDA Zones 4 to 9.

Clematis vines are excellent candidates for small trellises and fences! They usually don’t get very heavy and (unlike some vines) won’t damage exterior siding materials or other structures they climb on. 

You can also grow clematis in a more impromptu fashion, letting the vines scramble up something like an evergreen tree or unused clothesline.

2. Morning Glory

Morning Glory

Ipomoea purpurea

  • Type: Twining
  • Hardiness: 2 to 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun

Another classic example of a purple flowering vine is the common morning glory. These trumpet-shaped blooms are so named because the flowers open in the morning and close back up by the afternoon.

Morning glories are a favourite of many pollinators, including hummingbirds. They can bloom continuously for several months from early summer to fall.

Where To Grow: In their native region of Central America, morning glories are short-lived perennials. In most gardens throughout the rest of the world, they’re grown as vigorous annuals.

You can easily grow morning glories anywhere that receives either full or partial sunlight throughout the day. They like moist, well-draining soil. 

Morning glories grow best when given a nice support structure to climb. However, they can also be left to scramble across the ground or spill out of a hanging basket or other container. Get creative with how you incorporate this purple flower in your garden for a relaxed, cottage-style aesthetic!

3. Purple Passionflower

Purple Passionflower

Passiflora incarnata

  • Type: Tendril
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full to partial sun

The purple passionflower is a close relative of the vine responsible for producing passionfruit (P. edulis). While not quite as delicious as its cousin, purple passionflower is ornamentally attractive and much harder than other members of the genus.

Purple passionflower is an evergreen perennial throughout most of USDA Zones 7 to 9. It is more or less root-hardy up to Zone 5 but may need extra protection during cold winters.

Where To Grow: You can allow purple passionflower to either climb or sprawl along the ground. Flower and fruit production is generally good with either method, though I think the vine looks best when allowed to climb up something like a trellis or arbour.

Note that, according to North Carolina State University, purple passionflower has a very high flammability rating. Avoid planting this vine along your home’s exterior or anywhere else it could cause property damage or injury if it happened to catch fire.

4. Chinese Wisteria

Chinese Wisteria

Wisteria sinensis

  • Type: Twining
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full to partial sun

Wisteria is a gorgeous, fragrant perennial climber that can live for many decades and grow dozens of feet tall and wide. It is most commonly grown in large arbours, trellises, and masonry walls.

Chinese wisteria is the fastest-growing species of wisteria but is also infamous for being hard to control. Its sheer size and weight can damage home exteriors and or support structures if not well-maintained. Thanks to it’s rapid growth rate it is often grown as an upright tree with purple flowers rather than as a climber.

Where To Grow: The general consensus nowadays is that you shouldn’t plant Chinese wisteria outside of its native range. It has a very aggressive growth habit and can overtake native flora incredibly quickly. 

5. Japanese Wisteria

Japanese Wisteria

Wisteria floribunda

  • Type: Twining
  • Hardiness: 4 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full sun

Japanese wisteria boasts very similar purple, highly aromatic flowers to its Chinese cousin. It has a slower overall growth rate but, as a result, tends to be less aggressive and significantly easier to control in the landscape.

Japanese wisteria is also more compact than W. sinensis. It has smaller leaves, thinner stems, and looser flower clusters. You can expect Japanese wisteria to bloom about a month later than Chinese wisteria.

Where To Grow: Though not nearly as problematic as Chinese wisteria, this species can still cause issues in the wrong environment. For example, cases have been reported of Japanese wisteria girdling native trees throughout the American Southeast. 

Assuming you live outside of its natural range, I recommend researching Japanese wisteria’s status in your area before adding it to your garden. 

6. American Wisteria

American Wisteria

Wisteria frutescens

  • Type: Twining
  • Hardiness: 5 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full to partial sun

If you love the look and aroma of wisteria, the last two entries on this list were probably pretty disheartening. Luckily, there’s one more species to discuss that is decidedly less invasive than its Asian counterparts.

American wisteria is, as the name implies, native to North America. Though nowhere near as common, it is far less aggressive than the other species. It tends to be very compact (even smaller than Japanese wisteria) but that is a small price to pay for a plant that won’t potentially wreak havoc on native ecosystems.

Where To Grow: The growth habit of American wisteria is much more refined than that of Chinese or Japanese wisteria. It typically only grows 10 to 30 feet tall and is a relatively slow grower at that. I recommend planting it alongside a sturdy wooden arbour or large retaining wall.

American wisteria is obviously a great option for North American gardeners interested in creating more sustainable landscapes. Its flowers are a great source of nectar for insects and other pollinators. Its twining vines can also provide a habitat for nesting birds and other wildlife.

Even if you live outside of this species’ native range, it may still be worth planting if you have a small garden or are worried about the aggressive nature of other wisteria varieties.

7. Bengal Clock Vine

Bengal Clock Vine

Thunbergia grandiflora

  • Type: Twining
  • Hardiness: 10 to 11
  • Light Needs: Full to partial sun

Also known by names like sky flower and blue trumpet vine, this tropical plant makes an attractive annual for cool and temperate gardens. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and produces bluish-purple, trumpet-shaped flowers that are a bit more shapely than those of morning glory.

Even though the Bengal clock vine is most commonly cultivated as an annual, it can still easily reach up to 8 feet tall before the season ends. The flowers appear in loose clusters throughout summer and into fall.

Where To Grow: Bengal clock vine is a low-maintenance plant that tolerates full or partial sun and nearly all soil types. It’s a good candidate for growing up on a trellis or planting in a hanging basket.

You can use this vine to add shape and colour to a garden bed without the commitment of a perennial vine. It also works well as a fast-growing (albeit short-lived) privacy screen.

8. Purple Nightshade

Purple Nightshade

Solanum xanti

  • Type: Scrambling
  • Hardiness: 8 to 10
  • Light Needs: Partial sun

Purple nightshade is a North American native closely related to tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and a whole host of other members of the nightshade family. 

Though we tend to classify these plants as noxious due to their toxic qualities, purple nightshade does provide food and habitat to a number of insect species. If you live within its native range, it’s definitely worth considering planting purple nightshade (or at least leaving existing plants alone) to support these critters.

Where To Grow: Purple nightshade typically has a mounding or scrambling growth habit. It doesn’t need a structure to climb but can and will if given the opportunity. In the wild, you may find it clinging to fences or other larger plants.

This vine grows best in partial shade. It’s most often found in scrubby or woodland areas with relatively poor soils.

9. Sweet Potato Vine

 Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas

  • Type: Scrambling
  • Hardiness: 9 to 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun

Did you know that sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family? While you may be familiar with the edible tubers produced by these vines, there are also many ornamental varieties worth adding to your garden beds or containers!

When grown as ornamentals, sweet potato vines are most prized for their lush foliage. If the conditions are right, however, they will also put out trumpet-shaped lavender flowers.

(Ornamental sweet potato tubers ARE edible but generally don’t taste as good as those cultivated specifically for eating.)

Where To Grow: Sweet potatoes need full sun and loose soil to develop properly. While the latter condition isn’t as crucial for vines grown for ornamental purposes (it’s not a huge deal if the tubers don’t form correctly), your sweet potatoes will be happiest when these needs are met.

Most sweet potato vines prefer to crawl along the ground rather than climb of their own volition. With that said, they will still climb with minimal training.

My favourite way to grow ornamental sweet potato vines is by letting them spill out of large seasonal containers. They pair very nicely with petunias and other annual flowers.

10. Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

Lathyrus odoratus

  • Type: Tendril
  • Hardiness: 2 to 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun

Ornamental sweet peas are charming, easy-to-grow annuals well-suited to any relaxed landscape or cottage-style garden. Their flowers range in color but many varieties boast pinkish-purple blooms.

It’s important to note that these sweet peas (L. odoratus) are not edible! The pods are actually mildly toxic to both animals and people, so take care introducing this pretty flower to a garden where children or pets often roam.

Though the plant’s common name doesn’t describe its flavour, it does describe the flowers’ fragrance. Unfortunately, some newer sweet pea cultivars have lost the pleasant aroma previous iterations became famous for.

Where To Grow: Sweet peas are very fast-growing and can reach 6 to 8 feet in height. They like to climb trellises and similar structures. 

Since sweet peas are annuals, they don’t get very heavy even at maturity. This climber is a great option if you have a less-than-sturdy arbour or trellis you’d like to cover with attractive flowers.

For the best results, plant sweet peas in full sun. These vines prefer slightly alkaline soil, but this requirement shouldn’t be a problem unless your garden is naturally highly acidic. Be sure to provide good nutrition to support your sweet peas’ vigorous growth.

FAQs Vine Plant with Purple Flowers

What is the woody vine with purple flowers?

Wisteria is one of the most popular and recognizable vines with purple flowers. These long-lived vines are very popular in regions like the UK but are also found in the US and other climates. Note that some species of wisteria (most notably the Chinese variety) are classified as quite invasive.

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.