Types Of Climbing Plants

Here is a list of the main types of climbing plants in terms of their uses and growth rates. Depending on where you live e.g.:

  • house with garden
  • apartment
  • apartment with patio
  • city
  • rural

You will see from the list that you are really spoilt for choice. Anything in blue takes you to a specific part of the website on that plant or subject.

It is important if growing in the ground to organise plants that will grow together well. This does not apply if you are growing in pots as you can supply the correct soil requirements for each individual climber.

Vigorous Growing Climbing Plants

Climbers and wall plants that can cover a large area of wall or fence quickly are particularly useful when you have a dull background that you would like to hide, but bear in mind their eventual spread, and choose something that is within the scale of the surroundings.

Actinidia chinensis, the Chinese gooseberry, is a hardy, swift-growing climber with large leaves and Chinese gooseberryscented, cream-coloured flowers in summer, followed by edible fruits. It grows well against a west- or south-facing wall.

Alcebia quinata will twine its way up any support on a warm or sheltered wall, preferably facing south or west. It quickly reaches a height of anything up to 8.2m (27 ft).

Berberidopsis corallina, the coral plant, is an evergreen climber that makes swift progress and can cope with a sheltered north wall. It does not, however, tolerate a soil with a great deal of lime in it.

Campsis grandzflora, the trumpet vine, grows swiftly and can usually be relied upon to cover an area 7.3 x 4.6 m (24 x 15 ft). It prefers a south- or a west-facing wall.

Celastrus scandens will scramble over a trellis or a wall quickly, reaching 6.4- 8.2 m (21-27 ft) fast.

Clematis: large-flowered varieties like Clematis montana can be relied upon to make up to 8.2m (27 ft) of growth in the space of a year. To encourage vigorous growth with C. montana, cut it back by about a third after it has flowered in its first year.

Clianthus puniceus, an evergreen shrub, will grow quiddy against a warm wall. The variety ‘Red Cardinal’ has, as its name suggests, attractive cardinal-red flowers.

Hedera colchica and Hedera hibernica are the two fastest-growing forms of ivy, covering an area 4.6m (15 ft) square. Both varieties have large leaves and are invaluable for north-or east-facing walls.

Jasminum nudiflorum, the winter jasmine, will cover an area 4.6 x 4.6 m (15 x 15 ft), and can be grown against a north-facing wall, while the summer version, Jasminum officinale ‘Grandiflorum’ can be trained to give 8.5 m (28 ft) of coverage.

Lonicera x americana, the American honeysuckle, can cover an area with 6.4-8.2m (21-27 ft) of vigorous growth.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia, the Virginia creeper, is another fast grower, smothering an area about 7.3 x 8.2 m (24 x 27 ft) with rich red foliage.

Passzflora caerulea, the passion flower, will also make an impressive amount of growth and remains almost evergreen against a warm sheltered wall.

Polygonum baldschuanicum is the most rampant climber of all, putting on anything up to 7.3 m (24 ft) of growth each season. But it is, unfortunately, deciduous. It will tolerate almost any aspect.

The grape vine, Vitis vimfera, has several varieties that put on a great deal of growth in one season. Vitisvinifera ‘Brandt’ is by far the most vigorous, growing to an eventual size of 8.5m (28 ft) or more.

Wisteria sinensis, once established, will quickly cover a wall but needs plenty of sun to do so.

SELF-CLINGING CLIMBERS

The plants listed below can be relied upon to cover a wall of their own accord, clinging to it by their aerial roots, or by ‘plates’ or adhesive discs:

Euonymus fortunei in its evergreen forms such as ‘Colorata’, with foliage that turns almost purple in winter, ‘Silver Queen’ with leaves marked with silver and ‘Vegetus’ with orange berries, will cling to a wall without tying or staking.

Hedera climbs walls with the help of its aerial roots. For added colour choose Hedera canariensis ‘Variegata’ with silver and white markings on its leaves, or Hedera helix ‘Buttercup’ with leaves that are almost gold.

Hydrangea petiolaris can be relied upon to cling to a wall happily without help. Parthenocissus quinquefolia, the Virginia creeper, clings to host walls by means of adhesive discs.

TWINING CLIMBERS AND WALL SHRUBS

These plants make useful wall cover because, provided you give them support in the form of trellis, mesh or wires, they will find their way up it, and do not need to be tied in place.

Abutilon. Although not entirely hardy in this country, Abutilon megapotamicum, with its exotic fuchsia-like flowers, has twining stems that anchor it to a wall. It is also fast-growing.

Actinidia chinensis, the Chinese gooseberry, will attach itself happily to a support. Look for Actinidia chinensis ‘Aureovariegata’ for extra interest, as it has leaves with striking markings of yellow and cream.

Alcebia quinata, a fast-growing climber, can take shade since it is unhappy in full sun, and twines its way over any support provided.

Aristolochiamacrophylla, the Dutchman’s pipe, is a useful twining plant with distinctive flowers that appear in pairs. Give it plenty of growing space.

Celastrus scandens is a vigorous grower that climbs by means of twining stems.

Clematis may need a little help at first by having their rather fragile stems tied gently to a support but from there they are capable of twining over mesh or, indeed, scrambling over another host plant such as a rose.

Eccremocarpus scaber, a herbaceous climber, is mainly used as an annual in this country although it should survive mild winters in a sheltered spot. Known as the glory vine, it can easily be raised from seed and twines its way over any support.

Humulus lupulus, the hop, will twine its way quickly over any support and ‘take off if you are not careful, between tracks in woven lap fencing to decorate your neighbour’s side of the boundary as well as your own.

Jasminum nudiflorum, one of the most obliging climbers in the garden, will not only cope with a north wall but will climb its own way up it, given some support.

Lonicera: Most of the honeysuckles, notably the American version, Lonicera x americana, and the Dutch honeysuckles (Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’ and ‘Serotirta’) will grow over a support without help but they may need tying back for the sake of tidyness. Passiflora caerulea, the passion flower, is a twiner that will take to any support but looks very pretty against white clematis mesh.

Polygonum baldschuanicum: This extremely vigorous grower will twine its way over anything and on to other plants as well if you are not careful. It can literally take a stranglehold on other less strong climbers but it is a useful plant to have, provided you keep it under control. It can also be clipped to give the effect of a hedge to an ordinary wooden fence.

Solanum crispum, with its rich purple flowers (Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’) makes an attractive show of colour and will attach itself to mesh or wires.

The grape vine, vitis has particularly strong tendrils, and provided it is given a series of wires to cling to, it will cover a wall for you without any trouble.

Wisteria: This beautiful climber, like the vine, will attach itself to a suitably placed wire support, although it is often trained specially above a doorway or across a wall.

SCENTED CLIMBERS AND WALL PLANTS

There is nothing more attractive than the perfume of scented climbers round your doorway or window, particularly if the wall faces west, and the scent drifts into the house in early evening.

Abelia chinensis, the Chinese abelia, is a relative of the honeysuckle family and likes a warm sunny wall. Given that position, it will reward you with attractive white scented flowers in summer.

Clematis. Two plants of the clematis family produce scented flowers and are well worth bearing in mind. Clematis flammula does not reach very great heights – usually no more than 1.5 m (5 ft) – but it has a magnificent show of fragrant white flowers and can be used over a low wall. Clematis montana has white flowers which give a delicate scent of almonds.

Chimonanthus, the winter sweet, not only produces scented flowers, but does so when they are most welcome. They are followed by scented leaves in the spring.

Cytisus battandieri, the Moroccan broom, has golden flowers that smell distinctly of pineapple. It prefers a warm wall.

Jasminum officinale, the summer jasmine, has sweetly perfumed flowers. Jasminum officinale gives white blooms, Jasminum x stephanense, pale pink flowers.

Lonicera. Not all the honeysuckles are strongly scented: the cultivars to look for are Lonicera x americana, Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’ and Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’.

Rosa. As in the case of the honeysuckle, not all climbing roses are scented. Among those guaranteed to perform, however, are ‘Etoile de Hollande’, with dark red flowers, the climbing version of ‘Fragrant Cloud’, ‘Copenhagen’, also with red flowers, the golden ‘Gloire de Dijon’ and ‘Golden Showers’, ‘Guinee’ with bright scarlet blooms, and two old-fashioned roses, ‘Mme Gregoire Staechelin’ in deep pink and ‘aphirine Drouhin’, which is also pink.

Viburnum tinus, a scented plant for a north-facing wall, will flower fragrantly right through the winter. It is a useful evergreen wall shrub.

EVERGREEN AND SEMI-EVERGREEN CLIMBERS AND SHRUBS

These plants are useful to form a background framework round the perimeter of the garden. Many of them can be livened up, if their own Kerria ‘Plemfora’ , Jew’s mallow, is a bushy shrub which makes a colourful screen flowers are insignificant, by growing annual climbers in front of them.

Siting is important; check that the plant you are planning to use is completely hardy, or it may suffer from leaf bum and drop through frosts unless it is in a sheltered spot. The best planting time to make sure that the plants take off as they should, is in the early spring. Semi-evergreens keep their leaves for most of the year.

Evergreen plants

  • Camellia
  • Ceanothus Choisya
  • Clematis balearica (calycina)
  • Cotoneaster (most cultivars)
  • Elaeagnus x ebbingei, F. macrophylla, E. pungens ‘Maculata’ Euonymus fortunei
  • Garrya
  • Hedera
  • Ilex
  • Ligustrum
  • Magnolia
  • Pittosporum Prunus laurocerasus
  • Pyracantha Rhododendron
  • Viburnum x burkwoodii, V. tinus
  • Semi-evergreen plants
  • Akebia
  • Abutilon Escallonia Lonicera japonica ‘Aureo-reticulata’, ‘Dropmore Scarlet’
  • Solanum

POLLUTION-PROOF PLANTS

  • The following plants are better able than most to stand heavily polluted, industrial or town sites: Berberis
  • Hedera
  • Buddleia
  • Camellia
  • Kerria
  • Cotoneaster
  • Magnolia
  • Cytisus
  • Prunus
  • Elaeagnus
  • Pyracantha
  • Escallonia
  • Rhododendron
  • Euonymus
  • Symphoricarpos
  • Forsythia
  • Viburnum tinus

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