Climbers In The Garden
Vines are magickal, lyrical, and free-spirited; they offer abundant rewards in the garden and even maximize landscape space. Climbing plants all ascend in particular ways. Some will wrap, some adhere and some curl, and knowing which plants do what will help you find the aesthetic your heart desires.
There are two types of tendril vines: stem and leaf. Examples of stem tendrils are passionflowers and grapes, while leaf tendrils can be found in the form of sweet peas and Chilean glory flowers. Stem tendrils are shoots that grow out of the stem, and leaf tendrils look similar but are actually modified leaves that emerge from a leaf node.
Tendrils are wiry, skinny structures along the plant’s stem that can reach around in the air until they come in contact with something they can grab. When contact is made, the tendrils will curl and form a coil that then allows the plant to either adjust the degree of tension or pull on the support.
Plants with tendrils need handholds in the form of horizontal supports, such as netting branches with many small side shoots and horizontal strings attached to posts or bamboo poles. Make sure that the strings are not positioned more than four inches apart, or the newer tendrils may not be able to reach the next level of string. The tendrils will also need to wrap around something thin, such as string or wire, that’s no more than about ¼ inch in diameter.
Morning glories, pole beans and honeysuckle, are just a few examples of twiners, and there are two important differences among twiners: they either have twinning stems or twinning leaves.
Those with twinning leaves use their leaves like tendrils to twist around wires, string and more. For these, be sure to provide enough support for the leaf stem to curl around.
For those with twinning stems, they tend to twist around anything they touch. Depending on the species, their stems will wind clockwise or counterclockwise. Wisteria is another famous twiner, and as you know they can become extremely heavy. Be sure to provide a strong structure and support if you know the vine is a perennial that will grow large.
Rambling roses and bougainvillea are two plants that fall into the category of scrambler. These have flexible, long stems that may look like vines, but they aren’t able to climb on their own. Scramblers can sometimes have thorns that help them grip stems close to them, but if you want them to climb they must be tacked into place and most likely tied up with sturdy string or wire.
For plants with stem tendrils with touch-sensitive adhesive pads that allow them to stick to most surfaces, take a look at Boston ivy and Virginia creeper. These climbers attach themselves to the faces of buildings or the trunks of trees, but if not provided with vertical support they will begin to crawl sideways and attach to whatever is in their path.
Clinging stem roots
This last group uses their clinging stems to attach themselves. Their stems produce a cluster of stout, short roots that can cling to almost any surface. Some you may be familiar with are the climbing hydrangea and most ivies, like English ivy. These climbers can damage paint work and mortar if you try to remove them from a structure, so exercise caution.
Training them to climb
Once you’ve decided what vine you plan to use in your customer’s landscape, it’s time to teach it to climb. The first step to training your vines to climb is to have support wires in place on the structure before any plants are introduced. After this, the climber should be planted 12-18 inches from the base of the wall to ensure there’s room for root development and for catching rain.
Untwine the climber to let it spread its stems, but leave them still attached to their cane supports. Using three bamboo canes you can train it to climb at an angle to reach the wire supports. Put the bamboo canes under the wires to keep them held in place and adjust the positioning the create a fan shape.
The next step is to tie the stems and canes to the wire supports. Using garden twine is preferable to wire because wire can potentially damage the stems and leaves. After the main stems have been trained into the basic fan shape, you can then prune off any weak growth that won’t contribute to the framework.
Here are just a few of my favorite climbers (all photos are credited to myperfectgarden onlin:
WISTERIA SINENSIS - BLUE FLOWERING
Wisteria naturally tends to spread itself in an upwards direction. It is best to guide this process. Be careful around rainwater pipes! The Wisteria is a strong plant and can cause damage to these.
In its natural setting, Clematis also commonly grows as a creeping groundcover, so if you want something different you can also use your Clematis as groundcover plant. This provides a beautiful sight when it is flowering!
*Note: Clematis is great for clay soil.
TUSCAN JASMINE (TRACHELOSPERNUM)
Trachlospernum will also grow well in pots. Pruning will keep it in beautiful shape.
PASSION FLOWER - PASSIFLORA
The passion flower is not a difficult plant to grow and is relatively resistant to common plant diseases. It grows quickly and is not very demanding regarding soil and fertilizers. It is best to plant Passiflora in a sunny spot. The plant flowers more when in the sun then when in the shade. Don’t be afraid to give the Passiflora a good pruning when it grows too big and too wild. It is a strong and fast growing plant that will not suffer from this. If this tropical climber happens to die off after a long period of frost, you can cut it right back down to the ground. It is highly likely that the Passiflora will grow back from its roots in the spring.
Passiflora caerulea is the ideal climber for a south-facing garden because it loves full sun. From July to September it will produce exotic looking flowers that are truly unique within the plant kingdom. These flowers are followed closely by orange, egg-shaped fruit, whilst the leaves are palmate and add a wonderful texture. They can be trained vertically along wires where it will quickly fill out and cover your fence.
What are the benefits of climbing plants?
Climbing plants are a beautiful addition to any garden and provide depth and complexity to simple gardening spaces. They also provide shade on those warm summer days. When harvesting these plants indoors, the benefits include:
Reduced stress and increased sense of well-being
Improve air quality
Reduce background noise
More benefits of indoor plants can be found here.
What is a creeper plant?
Creeper plants or creeping plants are small, vine-like plants that grow close to the ground.
What is the difference between climber and creeper plants?
Creeper plants are commonly found near the ground and grow horizontally while climbing plants tend to grow vertically, alongside buildings or other structures.
What are some examples of creeper plants?
Commonly grown creeper plants include:
Here's a link to some great information!