Planting Climbers: Upwardly Mobile Plants

June 05, 2018
Categories: Garden

One of the most beautiful (and fun) ways to add a little visual interest to your landscaping is by adding climbing plants. Who doesn’t love a beautiful trellis full of ivy?! Climbing plants make a huge impact on your exterior landscaping and can make a plain-looking house feel a lot more special.

Today, we thought we’d take a look at a few different varieties of climbing plants to help you decide which trellis-climbing plant is right for you. We’ll also dive into how to actually train these guys to climb up your trellis - it’s easier than you might think!


Which Climbing Plant Should I Try?

Here are 5 different options for climbers that are all easy to grow, along with some tips on how to know if it’s right for you. Click on the name of each plant for even more information about how to care for it!

  • Ivy. This is the most common climbing plant and it comes in several different varieties. English ivy is one of the most common and easiest-to-grow varieties of the ivy family. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors, and prefers a shady to partially-sunny environment (though, it can bounce back relatively well after spending too much time in the sun). It likes about an inch of water per week and doesn’t want to be over watered. It’s also considered a very invasive plant, which means if you’re planting it outside you may want to consider using a container to prevent it from taking over your yard!

  • Morning Glories. These flowering plants are annual climbers that are known for growing quickly - up to 15 feet in a year! They also self-seed really easily, and can take over if not planted carefully. Morning glories prefer full sun and only need to be watered during dry periods. They are low-maintenance and will do well in many different environments.

  • Trumpet Vine. These can scale areas up to 13 feet tall and produce beautiful, orange flowers when in bloom. This plant can be very prolific and requires regular pruning to grow strong branches and stay within the boundaries you have planned for it. Trumpet vines can thrive in either sun or partial shade, and require very little care once established. As with most other climbing plants, the roots can be very invasive and you’ll want to plant it far enough away from buildings or other plants that the roots could damage.

  • Star Jasmine. Also commonly referred to as Confederate Jasmine, this climber produces gorgeous white flowers and requires very minimal ongoing care. Star jasmine is a slow growing climber, often requiring several seasons to reach its full height of 3-6 feet. Star jasmine performs best in full sun but can survive any sun condition, including full shade. Star Jasmine can also be used as ground cover if you prefer!

  • Climbing Hydrangeas. Possibly the most impactful of all of the climbers we’re talking about today, climbing hydrangeas are a variety of the ever-popular plant that can grow up to 80 feet tall! These vines are massive and can be extremely heavy, requiring solid structural support. They are easy to care for, despite their high-maintenance appearance and simply require regular watering and some afternoon shade. These plants can also be grown as a shrub with proper pruning.

How Do I Encourage A Climber To Climb?

The first step to making sure your new climber will actually climb is to find out how the plant likes to climb. Climbing plants tend to fall into five categories in regards to how they attach to their support system, and each will require a slightly different approach.

  • Tendrils: These plants have small off-shoots called tendrils that curl when they encounter a support. They’ll need thin, horizontal supports to grab onto like square netting or horizontal string or wire attached to vertical supports. Passion flowers, grape vines, and sweet peas all fall into this category of climber.

  • Twiners: Twiners have either twining leaves or stems that like to have something vertical to wrap themselves around. They like a trellis, a post, or even string - it just needs to be horizontal in order for them to appropriately climb, and may require some slight guidance as they grow. You can simply help wrap the plant around your trellis if you notice it needs assistance. These plants often grow very large and will need something structurally sound to grow on. Morning glories and honeysuckles are two examples of twining climbers.

  • Scramblers. These guys need a bit of assistance when it comes to climbing upwards - they’re often thorny plants and need to be secured with gardening wire or string. Climbing roses fall into this category of plants, along with bougainvilleas.

  • Stickers. These unique climbers have stem tendrils like other varieties of climbers might, but their tendrils have an adhesive on them that allows them to stick without wrapping around anything. They simply need a vertical structure to cling onto, and then can be left alone to do their thing. Stickers include Boston ivy, and the trumpet vine.

  • Stem Roots. Finally, stem root climbers use clingy stems to help themselves attach to just about anything. They aren’t picky about what they climb and can thrive in a variety of environments. They tend to have extremely strong and stubborn roots that can damage foundations if not looked after, so it’s often recommended to stick to a container for these types of plants (or, at least, avoid planting them right next to a building!). Climbing hydrangeas and English ivy are both stem root climbers.

Growing climbing plants may seem like an intimidating endeavor, but most of them are generally very simple to care for, and with a little patience they can grow into a beautiful addition to your home!

What’s your favorite climbing plant?