With a growing habit that belies what we originally envisioned from the plants we nurture, climbing plants can appear daunting.
That’s why some people may feel climbers are best left to the experts to make sure these plants do not become too unwieldy. Or we ourselves are forced to put extra effort into pruning correctly and providing trellises and ties to allow them to reach their full potential.
However, have you seen a more captivating flower than that of a passion fruit in full bloom or surrendered yourself to the evocative scent of honeysuckle in early summer?
This article looks at why climbing plants are such positive additions to our green spaces and helps us to understand them better and the role they play in our gardens.
Adapted roots: An example of this is a climbing hydrangea which uses its roots to grab hold of and stick to walls as it works its way upwards. An important point to be aware of when removing ivy from the side of a wall is that it can hold on securely enough that it may also remove mortar as it’s pulled off.
Tendrils: Tendrils are in fact adapted leaves that reach out to ‘grab’ what is around them to secure the plant and pull it up.
Twining stems or petioles: This is where the stem of the climber wraps itself around the structure it is climbing. Wisteria and honeysuckle are both effective at this method of elevation.
Adhesion: These plants have remarkably alien looking adhesive pads that help them stick to what they are climbing. These are noticeable in Virginia creepers.
Before planting, think about where you want your climber to grow. Plenty of sunlight is a consideration for climbers that require it such as wisteria or campsis radicans, so make sure these are placed on a south facing wall. The wall behind them will also work in your favour by conserving heat. North facing walls, or positions that have less direct sunlight, do well to have plants such as a climbing hydrangea or clematis attached. Both of these also require minimal pruning.
Planting into the ground is recommended but if you are growing on a balcony, planting in a pot will restrict root growth and therefore the size of the plant you are growing, which could work in your favour depending on the space you have available.
Make sure you provide plenty of nutrients by adding compost or manure to where you are planting, leave a good 30-40cm gap from the wall you are planting against and water your plants well after the first few months of getting them in.
Below are some examples of popular climbing plants: