One of the more elegant ways to have in a garden is to add climbing plants, flowers or vines. These plants can be trained to grow on structures such as arbors, trellis and pergolas. Some can be trained to grow freely up the exterior walls of a home, though there are some precautions. Climbing plants can be grown for their flowers, for shade or even for food. Here are the 14 best climbing plants and flowers:
Grapes not only produce an abundance of fruit when they’re properly cultivated, but they’re also one of the better climbing plants for shade. These climbers can grow up to 50 feet high and produce not only edible fruit but spectacular fall color. Because of these qualities, grape is an excellent choice to be grown on pergolas. Viticulturists say that in order for a grape vine to produce grapes the plant has to suffer somewhat, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Grape vines like relatively hot summers, well-drained soil and fairly high humidity. To get a good yield of fruit and to keep the vines from going rampant, the gardener will need to do some fairly hard pruning in the winter. The traditional time to do this is on January 22, St. Vincent’s day.
Another vine grown for shade is the Virginia creeper. It is a vigorous climber and can be trained up a structure or on a wall. Unlike ivy, it clings to the wall with tiny adhesive disks and doesn’t damage the mortar. It keeps the side of the house where it’s grown cool in the summer and warmer in the winter when the leaves fall. The inconspicuous greenish-white flowers appear in spring. The blue-black berries are poisonous to humans, but birds love them. Virginia creeper has large leaves that are separated into five leaflets, which distinguishes them from poison ivy, which only has three. It’s the host plant for a variety of butterflies and moths, including the Virginia creeper sphinx moth. The plant isn’t fussy about soil and does best in full to part sun.
Honeysuckle is one of the perennial flowering vines that keeps its leaves throughout the winter in warmer climates and can produce its fragrant flowers well into the fall. These flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Honeysuckle, like Virginia creeper, isn’t fussy about soil as long as it drains well. It likes full sun or semi-shade and needs to be pruned now and then lest it becomes invasive.
Some people are wary of wisteria, but few things are more extravagantly beautiful than those racemes of purple, white or pink flowers that are some of the first flowers to appear in spring. The problem with this climber is that the woody vine is heavy, and whatever supports it needs to be sturdy. Wisteria can grow in alkaline, acid, well-drained or even damp soil and needs full sun.
There are hundreds of varieties of clematis that produce flowers of different shapes and sizes in colors of blue, white, purple or pink in the summer. Not only are the flowers of this climbing plant beautiful, but it produces attractive, flocculent seed-heads in the fall. Clematis does best in moist, fertile, well-drained, loamy soil and full sun.
Many roses have climbing habits and are stunning on arbors and trellises. One concern is that climbing roses don’t have the tendrils, hooks or adhesive pads of some other climbers, so these perennial climbing flowers need to be tied to their support. Among the best roses to grow as climbers are the giganteas, which are tender and should only be grown in warm climates. The flowers are very big, fragrant and long-lasting. Kordesii climbers are winter hardy and come in brilliant colors, and ramblers extend the rose season by blooming late. They can be easily trained on trellises and arbors and need good air circulation.
Roses thrive in slightly acidic, loamy soil in full sun. They are notorious for needing pruning, mulching, fertilizing and a lot of water.
Also called the yellow jessamine, the scent of this climber rivals even the most fragrant rose. The flowers are golden and trumpet shaped, and the plant can grow up to 17 feet. In warmer climates, the Carolina jessamine blooms in January and likes sandy soil and bright sunshine.
Like the grape vine, this climber also produces fruit. The cream-colored flowers appear in late summer and give way to the pale green fruit. Since this plant is tender to frost, it’s best grown in warmer climates. It grows well in any well-drained soil, and likes full sun.
These are the plants that produce the cone-like fruit that helps produce beer, and different ones produce different types of ales and lagers. The hops, which are found on female plants, have a lovely, calming aroma, and some people stuff their pillows with hops to cure insomnia. Hops like well-drained soil and full sun or semi-shade.
These perennial flowering vines get their name from the shape of their flowers, which are often a deep red-orange and appear in late summer. They cling to supports with aerial rootlets and are not fussy about soil as long as it’s not waterlogged. Trumpet vine may need a bit of pruning now and then because it can be aggressive.
This tough and enthusiastic climber can be trained up a trellis, over an arbor or a pergola. It produces lovely cream flowers tinged with pink in the summer and fall, likes all types of soil and can thrive in full sun to shade.
Vines for Hot Climates
These perennial climbing flowers not only have a profusion of brilliantly colored flowers but are just the thing for folks who live in hardiness zones 9 and above and people who have greenhouses. They include:
This vine with its profuse flowers of white, pink, red or purple can grow to 40 feet tall. Though it’s a bit cold tolerant, it must have full sun and does best in well-drained, acidic soul that’s kept on the dry side.
This vine is known for its celestial blue flowers. Like the bougainvillea, it needs sun and heat, but unlike the bougainvillea, it needs regular watering. It’s a vigorous plant that will cover a pergola in a short amount of time. The flowers can be cut for indoor arrangements.
Petrea, or Queen’s Wreath
This vine produces long clusters of purple flowers that resemble those of the wisteria, and like the wisteria it has woody stems that make it heavy, so it needs a strong support. The Queen’s Wreath flowers on and off all summer with a late season burst of blooms in the autumn.
Climbing plants lend their beauty and fragrance to even a small space. The best climbing plants are fairly easy to care for, long-lived, attract birds and beneficial insects and even keep down energy bills!