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Climbing Plants

Climbers add a vertical dimension to the garden that is especially useful in smaller spaces. They also help us ‘hiding’ ugly features like fences or walls, can be trained over attractive features like pergolas or arches, or can stand alone, trained onto an obelisk. Being specially adapted to cling and twine, climbers are an obvious solution for a vertical surface. They use a large variety of methods to cling on and climb. Some have twining leaf stalks that wind around supports or other plants, others have aerial roots that can burrow into brick and mortar, others still have tendrils, adhesive pads or thorns to help haul themselves upwards.If you consider to use climbers in your garden then you have to know that there are climbers for any situation. You will find suitable climbers to cover a sunny or a shady wall, some that look good covering a fence or others will show their beauty or arches or pergolas, but remember that they need your help in their first steps. You will need to offer them some anchor points or a wire system. When not supported, their stems spread luxuriantly, adding color, texture and horizontal lines, while some also function as weed-smothering ground cover. When allowed to scramble through other tall plants, climbers can extend the season of interest in your garden.Beside their help in hiding things that we don’t like in our garden, some of the climbers are also flagrant, bearing abundant strongly scented flowers. You can even grow climbers in containers, if your garden is a small one, but they will need some extra attention like regular repotting and feeding and even some severe pruning to the ones that grow fast. Containers are especially suitable for less hardy climbers, the ones that need winter protection and need to be taken indoors or in a heated greenhouse at the onset of autumn frosts.Climbers may be propagated from seeds, from stem or root cuttings or by layering or even by grafting. Propagation from seeds is the most cost-effective way to produce large quantities of plant, the only method for increasing annuals and the easiest way to propagate herbaceous climbers. Propagation from stem cuttings taken from soft or semi-ripe wood is used to almost all climbers and is the best method to select cultivars. Propagation from hardwood cuttings is normally applied only to vines and root cuttings is used for a small number of plants.Some climbers produce new plants naturally by self layering. If you don’t need a large number of plants then simple and serpentine layering are both straight-forward methods of propagating climbers that are difficult to raise from cuttings.

Climbers for Color

Colors are one of the most important thing to consider when you design a garden. You don’t need to be a specialist to create a beautiful arangement, you just need to consider some simple things. Color effects vary according to light levels in different parts of your garden. For example, …

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Position and Aspect

When planting climbers make sure you put them in the right position in order to achieve best results. To grow well and to achieve their full potential, many climbers need a sunny position with their roots in shade, but there are also some that need a cooler position. There are …

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Renovating a Climber

Old or neglected climbers, the ones that have not been pruned for too long or have not been trained to a support, often become a mass of tangled, woody stems and produce a poor display of flowers. In this situation you can prune hard the plant to rejuvenate it but …

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Climbers as Ground Covers

When we say climbers we think of plants that are covering walls and trellises and grow upright, climbing any support they find. But some climbers, especially those with aerial roots or those with a scandent, trailing or scrambling habit, may be grown without support, this way they will produce swathes …

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Climbers Support

Climbing plants attach themselves to supports by various methods so they need different types of support according to their needs. Many of them have aerial roots that readily attach to any vertical surface without support. Others use their twining stems, leaf stalks or coiling tendrils to climb on some support. …

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wisteria image

Wisteria plants originally grow in China, Korea, Japan and C. and S. USA, on trees, with the roots embedded in the forest floor in the rich organic matter of the leaf litter created by autumn leaf falls. The top growth of the plants grows strongly up ward to reach the light. Wisteria can displace native vegetation and kill trees and shrubs by girdling them. They have the ability to change the structure of a forest by killing trees and altering the light availability to the forest floor. Avoid planting wisteria near young trees as the vines may overgrow and strangle them.

There are 10 species of wisteria but three types of them are well known: Chinese wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis), Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda) and American wisteria vines (Wisteria frutescens).
Wisteria is a very vigorous, deciduous twining climber that find its perfect sites on walls, trellises, arbors, trees and pergolas. Wisteria can also be grown as a single trunk standard or a tree-form. Stems are large with smooth, tight gray to white bark, twining anticlockwise around the support. Alternate, pinnate, dark green leaves are tapered at the tip with wavy edges. Lavender, pink or white hanging chain of flowers are fragrant, very showy and abundant, and appear in spring or early summer. Seed are in a flattened bean-like pod.

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blue plumbago image

Plumbago auriculata, also known as Plumbago or Cape Leadwort, is an evergreen shrub, usually grown as a climber. It can be pruned to grow like a vine over supports or pruned into a compact mounded shrub or left to sprawl with its long, gracefully arching branches. It is grown for its pale blue phlox-like flowers that bloom freely throughout the growing season. A white flowered variety - Plumbago auriculata var. alba - is also available. The cultivar 'Royal Cape' has intense cobalt blue flowers.

It is hardy to zones 8 to 11 and can withstand some frosts. Even if killed to the ground, it will usually recover quickly. It may need to be cut back after winter to keep it tidy, even if this is only done every few years. Excessive growth can be removed at any time of year. Plumbago survives with little watering once established, and is considered moderately drought tolerant. It grows best in a place with full sun and fertile soils with good drainage.

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passiflora image

Passiflora, also known as Granadilla or Passion flower is a mostly evergreen climber with exotic flowers. Perfect as a garden flower, Passion flowers are a joy to grow in any flower garden if you live in a warmer area or in a greenhouse or conservatory if you live in frost-prone area, a delight to look at and smell, easy to cultivate and an absolute joy to watch growing throughout the gardens cycle.

Passion flowers are considered to be hardy climbers, some species may survive temperatures down to 0 Celsius degrees (32 F) if the wood has been well ripened in summer, but they should be planted in a protected place and mulched heavily if you are in a area with severe cold winters. Passion flowers can be difficult to overwinter because their roots are prone to rot if kept cold and wet. Established plants have a better chance of overwintering than very young ones. In the garden, Passion flowers can stand short periods of frost but if long periods of frost are expected than a little heat may be needed to prevent the roots becoming frozen. The top growth is usually killed back by frost, but it will pop back to life in the next spring.

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ivy leaves image

Hedera helix, also known as Ivy, Common Ivy or English Ivy, is a very ornamental, hardy - tolerates temperatures down to about -25 Celsius degrees (-13 F), evergreen climber growing up to 20-30 m tall and 5 m wide. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant that can easily grow on any vertical surfaces, but also as ground cover where there are no vertical surfaces. It bears flowers from late summer to late autumn, individually small, in 3-5 cm diameter umbels, greenish-yellow and very rich in nectar, an important food source for late bees and other insects. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are followed by fruits - small black berries that are ripening in late winter and are an important food for many birds. There are many varieties of Ivy with different leaf shapes, sizes, and colors, including variegated. The variegated forms are less hardy than the species and also require more light. Some cultivars were developed for tolerance to sunny conditions.

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Humulus Lupulus

hop leaves image

Humulus lupulus (Common hop) is a dioecious, rhizomatous, twining, perennial herbaceous climbing plant, which sends up new shoots in early spring, grows rapidly and vigorously each year by mid-summer and dies back to the cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. The flower cones of the plant, known as hops, are used in the production of beer to impart bitterness and flavor, but the vine itself is also highly ornamental. It will provide you a good screen that will rapidly cover unattractive structures or can be used as a foliage vine for trellises and arbors, as it needs a support structure on which to climb.

It is in flower from mid to late summer and the seeds ripen from early to mid autumn. The flowers are dioecious - individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant - so both male and female plants must be grown if seeds are required. Flowers emit a pine-like fragrance and are attractive to butterflies.

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