Climbing plant varietiesThe range of climbers is very diverse providing many possibilities. There are hardy perennials such as the Clematis and Wisteria, and then there are the annual vines such as Morning Glory. Some plants have woody branches and therefore belong to the ‘climbing shrubs’ category. Fruit bearing plants such as the grape vine are also climbing plants. Then there are abundant flowering climbers like the Honeysuckle (Lonicera), Laburnum, Sweet Pea (Lathyrus) and the trumpet vine with its gorgeous orange flowers. Or you could opt for the striking coloured foliage like ornamental grape, or evergreen Pyracantha. In addition, a distinction can be made between plants that can climb by themselves and those that need some help (also known as trained plants) and need to be tied in over a frame of some sort.
Choosing your climbing plantTo ensure that the plant you choose is happy in its new home, it’s a good idea to first take a look at what effect you want to achieve. The natural growth habit and climbing techniques for climbers are actually quite different from plant to plant. Vine plants (such as Akebia) and climbing vines (including Clematis) differ, as do spreading climbers (such as climbing roses and jasmine) and often form long, supple vines that don’t naturally attach themselves. All these types of climbers need help in some way to climb a fence or pergola. Some climbers that form suction cups (such as morning glory) or attaching roots (climbing hydrangea) are ‘self-attaching’ and are happy with anything to climb up.
All are a fabulous choice for enhancing a boring wall, or even climbing up a tree. With the use of a climbing frame, climbers can be grown in the middle of a border or in pots. It’s easy this way to create a nice focal point in your garden or on your patio/decking.
Planting tipsWhen planting a climber, first take into account the actual needs of the plant (see the plant label) – and take a critical look at the soil quality. Climbers are often planted right up against a wall where the soil is usually less fertile. Prepare a large hole and fill with potting compost and the addition of some granulated cow manure. Don’t put the plant too deep as the soil will probably collapse a little. Water generously until air bubbles stop appearing and all air is expelled from the soil. Immediately after planting prune back the stems of your climber significantly, in order to stimulate new growth and you will soon see that some climbers already need to be tied in or cut back. How and when this should happen depends on the type of plant and the flowering period.
Combining climbers with other plantsMost climbing plants do well with other plants, as long as the roots have sufficient space for growth. When choosing combinations, always take into account the entire growth mode of each plant, the colour and shape of foliage and flowers, the flowering period and growth rate. You can make fabulous combinations of clematis vines with climbing roses, honeysuckle with climbing hydrangea and passion flower with morning glory.
For more tips on planting and caring for climbing plants, see our gardening advice pages online.
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