Climbing plants

We love climbing plants which are so useful in a garden to height and structure to a garden. Climbing plants can make a statement and disguise problem areas in a garden. 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.

Here are 10 or more of the best climbing plants for your garden, including climbing plants for tough areas, shady areas, showy climbings with spectacle flowers, annuals and perennials. There are climbing plants to suit every garden.

As a group, climbing plants come in all shapes and sizes, perennial, annual, evergreen and deciduous. Climbing plants can be trained up walls, trellis, planted in the border, climbing up obelisk, in containers on the patio, or a natural way of planting is for the climbing plants to scramble around the border. 

One point to note relevant to nearly all climbing plants. Because climbing plants are usually vigorous, they are also ruthless. This means the climbing plant will often grab, cling to, and flatten anything growing around it.

If you let the plant have its own way, it will ramble over and lay over neighbouring plants. It is best to check its growth, tie it into an obelisk or a structure so it does not swamp everything around which can stunt the growth of neighbouring plants. The everlasting pea is a prime example of this plant behaviour.  

The Best climbing plants

Take your pick from some of the range of climbing plants. Some are easy to grow, such as Passion flower, (image top center) which looks exotic, but is in fact easy to grow and suitable for most gardens with little maintenance,

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, there are hundreds of different species to choose from flowering throughout the year.

Don't be put off growing clematis as 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.

Here are some of the best climbing plants with links to pages with additional information.

Hydrangea petiolaris a great climbing plant for shade

This climber is easy to grow, deciduous and shade tolerant. The Climbing Hydrangea is an ideal climber for a shady wall. It has lovely white flowers in late spring and early summer. It is quite vigorous, and self clinging. 

Lonicera common honeysuckle lovely scent especially on an evening

Honeysuckle is a woodland plant which means it prefers to be planted with its roots in the shade, away from full sun, and not, as is often the case, near a wall which is just too hot and dry. Honeysuckle has a wonderful, sweet scent,  including the deliciously scented Winter Flowering Honeysuckle.

clematis 'Crystal fountain'

Clematis is a very popular climber, with so many varieties there is one suitable for every gardens. Such is the range of clematis you can have one in flower almost all the year round. Clematis have particular planting, growing and pruning requirements and the clematis pages are full of information and videos. 

passion flower

Passion flower looks exotic looking, but it is fully hardy and in most gardens it is also easy to grow.  It is an evergreen, or semi-evergreen climber depending on the growing conditions. This purple variety P. caerulea is hardy in most areas.

Ipomoea ' morning glory' flowers lovely pink trumpet of flowers

Ipomoea is a tender annual, which is usually germinated from seed each year. It has trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of blue, pink and pastels, but it is difficult to grow, especially in cooler gardens or poor summers. It needs plenty of warmth to flower well. 

Winter flowering  Jasmin with delicate yellow flowers

This Jasmine is deciduous and really easy to grow. As its name suggest it is Winter flowering, lifting 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, a thug of  a climbing  plant.

As its name makes clear, 'Mile a Minute' for Fallopia is a 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. To its credit, Fallopia does have lovely white flowers in late summer.

wisteria  in bloom long delicately scented mauve blooms

Wisteria is both spectacular and scented . Very little can beat the sight of a wisteria in full bloom in early summer for its beautiful blooms and scent. Wisteria has particular pruning requirements and the Wisteria pages have step-by-step guides and video help.

Hedera  the native English ivy  is a wildlife haven

Easy to grow Ivy is very tough and which makes it ideal to plant in difficult areas. This type of ivy is also good for wildlife, providing late nectar for bees and home to many insects. It makes good groundcover and is evergreen ideal for disguising problem areas,

Lathyrus odoratus a stunning Pink sweet pea

Sweet peas are an annual and they are wonderfully scented  producing lots of blooms over a long period throughout the summer . Sweet peas make great cut flowers, so it is good to know that the more you pick, the more they flower. There is also a perennial variety known as The Everlasting Sweet Pea.

pale yellow flowers of Winter flowering Honeysuckle

Strong winter scent 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. Although to be fair, as a shrub it is fairly nondescript, it really comes into its own with the winter scent,

Tropaeolum speciosum the Flame flower bright scarlet climbing plant

Ideal for cooler gardens Tropaeolum speciosum The Flame Flower

An unusual looking climbing plant with scarlet flowers in late summer and autumn,Tropaeolum speciosum is ideal  to grow in cooler more northerly gardens as we also known it as the Scottish flame flower. I have seen it grown to great effect through an evergreen shrub or hedge, especially Yew.

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

Last updated 25.10.2021