Climbers And Trailing Plants

The special appeal of climbers and trailers is that they can provide a mass of foliage even where shelf or floor space is limited. Climbers can be trained up a support, trailers left to cascade downwards.

Many plants will grow happily up or down. Ivies and Philodendron scandens, if supported, can be trained to form a frame or left to trail and form ‘waterfalls’ of green (below right).

Supporting climbers

To fill in an empty corner grow a climber up a moss pole, attaching the stems to the pole with bent wires. To highlight a feature— a window, doorway, arch, picture or mirror—train a climber along wires fixed to screws in the wall.

A flowering climber in an attractive basket can use the handle as a support, or you can put it in a window with a trellis ladder to climb up to make the view.

Climbers And Trailing PlantsYou can also make a framework from lengths of wire, bent to form loops. When these are pushed into the compost in the container they will support a number of stems and create a vibrant globe of foliage or flowers.

Create a screen by putting a trellis at the back of a long box of climbing plants. This can be used to partition off one part of a room from another, perhaps separating a dining area from a sitting section.

Following are some examples of climbing plants and their methods of support:

TWINING STEMS: Lonicera (honeysuckle); Wisteria; Humulus.

TWINING LEAF STALKS: Clematis.

TENDRILS: Vitis coignetiae (vine).

HOOKS AND BARBS: Rosa (rose); Rubus (brambles).

ADHESIVE PADS: Parthenocissus quinquefo lia (Virginia creeper).

AERIAL ROOTS: Hydrangea petiolaris; Hedera (ivy).

Using plants to trail

Use high-level shelves and hanging baskets for trailing plants where you want interest. Or screw wall pots in place at eye level on a plain wall that needs added colour. Bushy trailing plants like Sword Fern, Spider Plant or Piggyback Plant look good placed on a pedestal. Or use an old cake stand to give the necessary height to allow stems to trail freely.

Plants to try

Climbers (green)

Trailers (green)

Trailers (flowering)

Practical tips

  • Support any hanging baskets securely. Hooks in the ceiling should be screwed into a joist.
  • A high-level container must be watertight! Use polythene sheet in wire baskets, foil in wicker ones. Containers without drainage holes need clay pellets in the base.
  • Special watering devices with long tube spouts are useful for high-level watering.
  • A flowering climber in an easily transported container can be moved when flowering finishes.
  • Hang pots close to walls and windows so they won’t get in the way.

Display ideas

  • A two – or three-tier hanging basket can be used attractively in a bathroom for both plants and toiletries. In a kitchen it could display plants and vegetables.
  • In a light but narrow hall, make a feature of one wall by fixing pots at varying heights along its length.
  • Hanging baskets filled with trailing plants will form an attractive screen between the dining and working areas of a kitchen.
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