How To Grow Climbing Plants

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 Sweetheart Vine (Philodendron scandens), flourish in shady corners. Others need more direct light. Choose the right plant for the right environment and you will have succes. Try planting seeds of Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) in individual pots along your sunniest windowsill. In no time you will have a living curtain, smothered in bright orange flowers.

Use climbing plants as design features in your home. The large-leaved Swiss Cheese Plant (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.

Support systemshow to grow climbing plants

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 aerial roots or tendrils to secure themselves on these supports. In the home you will have to provide substitutes for these natural supports.

Plants that use aerial roots are 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 Ivy (Scindapsus).

Plants that use curly tendrils include Kangaroo Vine and Passion Flower. 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 Leadwort, 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 with potting compost and push sphagnum moss into the wire column, ramming it down with a broom handle. Pot up the plant and attach the stem to the pole with bent wire. Water compost and moss well and mist daily.

How To Grow Climbing Plants 2

Easy climbers to try

Large-leaved climbing plants

  • Goose-foot Plant (Syngonium polophylum) is an attractive climber with arrow-shaped leaves 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.

Small-leaved plants

  • Kangaroo Vine (Cissus antarctica) is vigorous and tolerant.
  • Grape Ivy (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 (Philodendron scandens) can survive quite a lot of neglect.

Flowering climbing plants

  • Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa) is popular and easy to grow. Its twining stems can reach 4m (13ft).
  • White-scented Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) has fragrant white flowers.
  • Grape Ivy (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.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.