Use the natural behaviour of climbing plants to create luxuriant displays in your home. Climbing plants are tough and usually undemanding to grow, and can be easily trained as you wish.
The range of climbers available is vast. Some of them, like the( ), flourish in shady corners. Others need more direct light. Choose the right plant for the right environment and you will have succes. Try planting of Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) in individual along your sunniest windowsill. In no time you will have a living curtain, smothered in bright orange .
Use climbing plants as design features in your home. The large-leaved(Monstera deliciosa) can stand alone as a striking centrepiece in any room. Small-leaved vines or ivies can be used to swarm over a dividing wall, to frame a window or even scramble up your bathroom pipework.
You can hide unwanted features with a screen made up of several climbers scrambling to the top of bamboo canes.
Climbing plants do not actually ‘climb’ by themselves. In their natural habitats they need other plants or tree trunks to lean on, twine round or scramble over. They use aerialor tendrils to secure themselves on these supports. In the home you will have to provide substitutes for these natural supports.
Plants that use aerialare often large-leaved and heavy, and may need strong support. As well as anchoring the plants, aerial roots take in nutrients from the constantly moist medium that they grow over. Provide this by giving them support with a mass pole. Plants that need moss poles include Swiss Cheese Plant, Philodendrons and Devil’s (Scindapsus).
Plants that use curly tendrils includeand . They can be trained over light plastic or bamboo trellises, or around wire hoops.
To enable your climber to rampage over a wall or cascade around a window you will have to provide support. Use a strong nylon cord strung between nails. Climbers can get big and heavy, so tie the bottom of the cord to a hook screwed into the floor and the top end to a ceiling screw secured in a wooden joist. If you need to protect your walls use a ready-made trellis and fix it to wooden battens at least 25mm (1in) thick.
All tied up
Some climbers are so tenacious that they will need no help from you to support themselves. Others, like Jasmine and, are natural scramblers. They need to be tied up as they grow to prevent them becoming a tangled mess. Use proper plant ties in loose figure-of-eight loops, and never tie tightly.
Making a moss pole
You can buy ready-made moss poles but it is cheaper to make your own. Make a cylinder of chicken wire for the foundation 90cm (3ft) high and 10cm (4in) thick. Cut 2 lengths of bamboo canes to fit the pot base. Push them through the netting so that they form a cross, and then wedge the wire and canes into the pot.
Half fill the pot withand push sphagnum moss into the wire column, ramming it down with a broom handle. Pot up the plant and attach the to the pole with bent wire. Water and moss well and mist daily.
Easy climbers to try
Large-leaved climbing plants
- Goose-foot Plant ( polophylum) is an attractive climber with arrow-shaped and aerial roots. The leaves become five-lobed on older plants.
- Elephant’s Ear (Philodendron hastatum) and Burgundy Philodendron are large-leaved members of this family. Burgundy Philodendron has bright red stalks and undersides to its leaves.
- Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a very handsome plant with aerial roots. It is tolerant of most indoor conditions.
- Kangaroo Vine ( ) is vigorous and tolerant.
- (Cissus thombifolia) is one of the toughest of all foliage pot plants. Ivy is very useful indoors and out, as a versatile and tolerant climber. Do not let it get too hot or dry.
- Sweetheart Vine ( ) can survive quite a lot of neglect.
Flowering climbing plants
- ( ) is popular and . Its twining can reach 4m (13ft).
- White-scented Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) has fragrant white flowers.
- (right) is one of the tough and undemanding climbers.
- Leadwort (Plumbago capensis) is vigorous and rambling with beautiful sky-blue flowers.
Create attractive and exciting displays of luxuriant foliage and fragrant clouds of flowers by training (and in some cases taming) the natural twining and scrambling habits of climbing plants.