Climbing plants

Climbing plants give height and structure to a garden and make a spectacular feature in their own right, such as Wisteria (image top left). Many climbing plants are vigorous which means although they are easy to grow, it is important to check the eventual size of the plant against the space available.

As a group, climbing plants come in all shapes and sizes, perennial, annual, evergreen and deciduous. The smaller climbing plants, such as compact clematis, and annual sweet peas look just great in the border climbing up an obelisk. A natural way of planting into a border is to train climbing plants to scramble and wind its way around a border. 

Many climbing plants are vigorous and ruthless in grabbing, scaling around, clinging, flattening and basically growing over anything in their way. If you let the plant grow through a border, as opposed to being tied into an obelisk or a structure, you may need to check its growth as there is a tendency to swamp everything around. It can stunt the growth of plants around by clinging and sometimes pulling more fragile plants down.

When growing annuals you can make a temporary support out of pruning off cuts which can make an attractive natural arrangement, as spotted here at one of the RHS gardens.



Sweet pea arcway

The Best climbing plants

The range of climbing plants is varied, some are easy to grow such as Passion flower, (image top center) which looks exotic, but is in fact easy to grow suitable for most gardens with little maintenance,

Other varieties of climbing plants such as the popular Clematis are more difficult to grow requiring time, attention and pruning. Although one of the most popular flowering plants, Clematis can be tricky to grow although there are hundreds of different species to choose from flowering all through the year. Some varieties of Clematis are easier to grow than others, generally those requiring little or no pruning, such as the Montana group. 

Don't be put off growing clematis they are spectacular climbing plants and help is at hand with more information about Clematis and pruning made easy and videos on planting and pruning Clematis.

In addition, there are some great annual climbing plants if you are a keen gardener, such as Lathyrus (Sweet Pea). A very lovely climbing plant but a real thug is Fallopia, not for nothing known as the "mile a minute plant". 

The best climbers are illustrated below with links to pages with growing information.

Hydrangea petiolaris

Easy to grow, deciduous and shade tolerant this Climbing Hydrangea is great for a shady wall. It has lovely white flowers in late spring and early summer and is a strong grower.

Lonicera common honeysuckle

Semi Shade tolerant specific growing conditions Honeysuckle is a sweet smelling ideal garden climber. It likes woodland conditions and is best grown with its roots in the shade.

clematis 'Crystal fountain'

Clematis are very popular climbers with many varieties suitable for all gardens. Such is the range of clematis you can have one in flower almost all the year round.

passion flower

Passion flower is exotic looking but  easy to grow.  It is an evergreen, or semi evergreen climber, this purple variety P. caerulea is hardy in most areas.

Ipomoea ' morning glory' flowers lovely pink trumpet of flowers

Tender annual, showy but difficult to grow. It has trumpets of flowers in shades of blue, pink and pastels an unusual summer climbing plant.

Winter flowering  Jasmin

Deciduous easy to grow Winter flowering lightens the gloom in December, January and February. It is very tough and suitable to grow almost anywhere in the garden.

Fallopia also known as the Mile a Minute plant

'Mile a Minute' Very very fast growing climber. This plant comes with a health warning as it is just so rampant plant with caution in a big space.

wisteria  in bloom

Showy and scented fantastic climber. Very little can beat the sight of a wisteria in full bloom in early summer for its beautiful blooms and scent.

Hedera  the native English ivy

Easy to grow  Ivy is very tough and so is ideal in difficult areas. This type of ivy is also good for wildlife providing late nectar for bees. 

Pink sweet pea

Wonderfully scented summer annual.  Sweet peas make a great summer display with along flowering period knowing that the more you pick the more they flower.

pale yellow flowers of Winter flowering Honeysuckle

Winter flowering Honeysuckle

One of the most sweetly scented winter flowering plants the Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissim. It flowers from mid December to March and is easy to grow.

Tropaeolum speciosum the Flame flower bright scarlet climbing plant

Tropaeolum speciosum The Flame Flower

This is an unusual climber which has scarlet flowers in late summer and autumn and looks great growing through an evergreen shrub or hedge.