Growing Plants On Walls

Tiny gardens particularly benefit from walls clothed in brightly coloured flowering plants. Most climbers take up a minimum of ground space and so allow room for other plants to be grown in front of them. For a constantly changing picture, plant climbers and trailing plants to give you colour throughout the year.

Training climbers Climbing plants may have adhesive pads or aerial roots, or may twine around other plants to support themselves. Some shrubs can also be grown against a wall. Whatever you plant, it is best to provide some support so that the plants will go in the direction you want, framing a window or door, or covering a bare wall. In a small space, a white wall will reflect the light and show off flower and leaf colours. Paint the wall (if necessary) before putting up your supports.

Special nails (vine eyes) have a hole at one end. When they are driven into the wall, wire can be threaded through the holes and the plants trained along the wires. This is especially useful when you want to train plants around a doorway or window, and is less obtrusive than trellis.


Either square or expanding, diamond-shape wood trellis can be screwed to the wall. This is designed so that the trellis stands slightly away from the wall, allowing plants to twine around it. It is best used where you want to cover a complete wall. More obvious than wires, it looks appropriate used with a plant with bold foliage. Plastic covered wire trellis is also available, as are special fan shaped climbing frames.

Using trailing plants

The bareness of walls can also be relieved by trailing plants. A box fixed to the top of a wall can be used, as can semi-circular wall containers and hanging baskets. Special fixings are also available for attaching plant pots to downpipes.

Most climbing plants are also happy to trail, and in this case support is not necessary. You can use as trailing plants some of the long flowering annuals such as fuschias, Ivy Geranium, trailing lobelia and carnations.

Special effects

If you have a tiny backyard, or just a small space around the doorway, you can make this appear larger by painting the walls white and planting pale flowering climbers. A great advantage of climbers like clematis, Morning Glory and Cup-and-Saucer Vine is that they take up very little ground space.

Espalier fruit trees can be trained against a wall, as can a Grape Vine.

Remember that scented flowers grown around doorways and windows will provide fragrance both inside the house and out.

Fast growing cover-ups

If you want to cover a wall quickly then choose from one of the following: Russian Vine grows very rapidly and will need to be pruned back hard. It has small white flowers in summer.

  • Virginia Creeper also gives dense cover. It is self-clinging and its leaves turn a rich rusty-crimson in autumn.
  • Climbing Nasturtiums are annuals that will scramble over anything in colours ranging from sunny yellow, gold, apricot, orange to deep rusty red.
  • Cup-and-Saucer Vine is a vigorous, self-supporting vine which has beautiful purple flowers that turn to decorative seedheads.
  • Morning Glory is an annual that will produce a wonderful array of rich blue flowers in late summer. There are also mixed-colour varieties available.

Winter flowering climbers

  • Winter Jasmine Josminum nudiflorum has long, green, trailing stems and little star-like bright yellow flowers.
  • Clematis cirrhosa balearica has unusual pale green flowers with red spots, and flowers from January.
  • Spring flowering climbers
  • Clematis armandii is a handsome evergreen climber with small white scented flowers. It needs a sheltered and sunny wall.
  • Clematis macropetala has finely divided foliage and small blue flowers in April.
  • Clematis montana is very vigorous and will quickly cover an old tree or garden shed as well as a wall. It is covered with small white or pink flowers in May.

Summer flowering climbers

Climbing roses have large flowers that appear singly or in small groups. They often flower more than once. ‘Aimee Vibert’ has small, double white flowers with yellow stamens and fragrant scent. ‘Mermaid’ has large yellow flowers and needs a sheltered wall. ‘New Dawn’ has delightful pale pink double blooms, delicately scented. ‘Crimson Glory’ has large, deep crimson blooms.

Rambler roses usually have numerous small flowers in large bunches but only flower once a year. ‘Albertine’ has salmon buds opening to paler flowers. ‘Evangeline’ has pale pink fragrant single flowers. ‘Rambling Rector’ will scramble over walls, hedges and through trees and has creamy white semi-double flowers. ‘Veilchenblau’ has small flowers that open dark magenta and fade to lilac. ‘Easlea’s Golden Rambler’ has butter-yellow scented flowers.

Other climbers include Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Common White Jasmine and Passion Flower.

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