California honeysuckle vine

Native Vines For Late Summer And Fall Color

We can’t help but fawn over the beautiful creeping vines that grow here in California, transforming building facades and pergolas into stunning landscapes, straight off the page of a fairytale storybook. With vibrant flowers, juicy berries, and glossy foliage that changes color through the shifting seasons, there’s a lot to love about these picture-perfect plants.

Do you find your yard is lacking in color and visual interest near the end of summer once all your spring blossoms have faded? Then you should definitely plant some of these gorgeous vines that are native to California. Since they’ve adapted to live here naturally, they’re super easy to care for, and they reach impressive heights in a relatively short span. Here are some of our favorites for California homes and gardens!

California Honeysuckle

Also known as the hairy honeysuckle, this California native has cute clusters of candy pink blooms shaped like little trumpets, making them a favorite among hummingbirds and other pollinators. They’re like little champagne flutes full of sugary nectar—yum! While its flowers begin to fade in the summer, they’re followed by clusters of shiny red berries that dangle like glass ornaments.

California honeysuckle grows best in full sun or partial shade, and like many other native plants, it’s highly drought tolerant and rarely needs to be watered after its roots have established. Occasional rainfall is enough to keep this flowering vine thriving; however, if there’s a prolonged period of drought during the hot summer months, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give this vine a thorough watering.

western white clemetis summerwinds california

Western White Clematis

Surprisingly, it’s the fluffy white seed pods of this creeping vine that have earned it the comical nickname of “Old Man’s Beard,” while its flowers are more subtle. It blooms from June through until September, and its feathery fruits ripen from August until November. The western white clematis can reach a whopping 60 feet tall if it has a suitable surface to cling to, like a tall tree or building facade. If you enjoy the occasional backyard bonfire, the fluffy seed pods were traditionally used as tinder for starting fires, so you’ll get some good use out of them!

roger's red grape summerwinds california

Roger’s Red Grape

While technically only a half-native species, as this grape variety is a crossbreed between a California native and a European import, resulting in a vigorous vine that is well-suited to our coastal climate. Its yellow flowers appear in spring, but it’s the foliage that really brings the wow-factor, transitioning to a vivid, fiery red color as autumn approaches.

Training this grape vine to grow over an arbor or pergola will provide some nice shade during the summer, and the dangling clusters of fruit are a beautiful (and delicious) bonus. It’s a speedy grower that can reach up to 40 feet tall and wide, performing its best in full sun, although a little shade won’t do any harm.

western trumpet honeysuckle summerwinds california

Western Trumpet Honeysuckle

Both the flowers and the leaves of this creeping honeysuckle are a lovely sight to behold! The neon tangerine flower bunches are like magnets for hummingbirds, and they spring forth from symmetrical leaves with a distinct shape resembling a pair of lips. It blooms in June, but its emerald leaves remain intact all year round, so there’s never a shortage of color.

Since this honeysuckle is a twining vine, it’s going to creep up whatever surface it can, so if you want to keep it under control, you’ll want to train it up a trellis or arbor in its early growing stages. It’s tolerant to a wide range of soils, from dry and sandy soils to moist, heavy clay, so you won’t have too much trouble finding a suitable spot for it to grow.

american vetch summerwinds california

American Vetch

This native perennial comes from the pea family and has amethyst purple blossoms that appear from May until September. It’s a much more modestly sized vine, reaching about 3 feet high at maturity, so it will do best on a simple ornamental trellis. It can handle partial shade or full sun and produces cute reddish-brown pea pods in autumn.

California gardeners much prefer American vetch over other imported vetch varieties because it has a much neater, elegant growth habit. Non-native vetch plants can get a bit tangled and messy, and can be a bit more unruly to train. It also attracts beneficial insects to the garden, helping to control the populations of garden pests that damage our plants.

Purpleleaf Grape

As you can probably guess by the name, this stunning vine has rich purple leaves, but similarly to Roger’s Red grape, its leaves transition to blazing red in autumn. It blooms in the spring, and in the summer it produces juicy grapes that are such a dark shade of blue, they almost look black!

Purpleleaf grapevines are a bit more compact, usually reaching between 20–30 feet high, and they do best in full sun. They require a moderate amount of moisture, so if there’s a long summer dry spell and we haven’t had much rain, you’ll definitely want to give this vine some extra water. Make sure its soil is loose and drains well!

Ready to give your yard the ultimate fairytale makeover with some elegant creeping vines? You’ll love these native varieties because the effort required to grow them is little-to-none. Visit SummerWinds California to see more of our vining plants you can grow at home!

About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.