Pergolas make a great focal point in gardens, and there’s a wide range of plants they can support.
There are many ways to use them, too. A path covered with a pergola can help create a sense of journey in the garden, while even the smallest pergola will provide shady spots – perfect for outdoor seating. You could also use a long pergola to divide up areas of the garden into ‘rooms’.
To grow even more plants up pergolas, trellis panels can be attached giving additional support for climbing plants. For extra shade, consider adding screening in the form of curtains or a canvas cover on top.
More on growing climbing plants:
Discover some of the best plants to grow up a pergola, below.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
With beautifully twining growth, honeysuckles (Lonicera) are ideal plants for pergolas. Lonicera periclymenum is a wildlife-friendly, native honeysuckle with deliciously perfumed flowers. For more colour, take a look at cultivars like ‘Serotina’ or ‘Mandarin’.
White passionflower (Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Elliot’
The bee-friendly blooms of passion flowers are spectacular and have an exotic appearance, while plump orange fruits extend its interest. Best grown in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil.
Potato vine (Solanum laxum ‘Album’)
If you’re after evergreen colour, consider the potato vines Solanum laxum and Solanum crispum. Both grow best in a sunny, sheltered spot, where they’ll produce clusters of summer blooms. The varieties ‘Glasnevin’ and ‘Album’ have both been given the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera)
Grapevines usually fruit from midsummer to early autumn. By growing them up a pergola, you can enjoy the pendulous fruits hanging down from the canopy. Provides a good, dense canopy for shade. Find out how to plant a grapevine outdoors.
Purple clematis growing up a pergola
If you pick the right clematis, you can have colour throughout the year. Check out these spring-flowering clematis and summer-flowering clematis for ideas. For autumn and winter colour, take a look at these evergreen clematis.
Climbing and rambling roses
Climbing rose ‘Westerland’
If you’re after the cottage garden look, try growing a climbing or rambling rose up and over your pergola. Take inspiration from the Rose Pergola at Kew Gardens. Check out all the advice you need in our climbing rose grow guide and rambling rose grow guide.
Wisteria floribunda ‘Multijuga’
Like grapevines, wisteria is sure to impress with its fragranced, pendulous flowers, which usually appear in May and June. The leafy canopy is ideal for providing shade. Discover how to grow wisteria.
Trumpet vine (Campsis ‘Indian Summer’)
For a taste of the exotic, check out trumpet vines (Campsis). In summer and autumn they produce a profusion of showy blooms in rich reds and oranges. Best grown in full sun or partial shade, in moist, well-drained soil.
Crimson glory vine
Crimson glory vine (Vitis coignetiae)
The crimson glory vine (Vitis coignetiae) is so called because of its fantastic autumn colour. A large, vigorous climber, it’ll easy cover a pergola producing a lush, leafy canopy.
Don’t leave the bases bare
To stop your pergola looking rather bare at the base, don’t forget to plant around the bottom of the posts or pillars. Bushy plants like hardy geraniums, lady’s mantle and hostas are perfect for the job.