How to choose the best climbing plants to cover walls and fences in any situation March 3, 2019 12:31

Best climbing plantsClimbing plants are a boon in the garden. They can hide an ugly fence or they can really help to show off a handsome one. They are the horticultural equivalent to a really good concealer and I love them!! 

Finding the right climbing plant for your space is easy once you've determined where you want to add one. The position and placement is critical to the success of all plants and climbing varieties are no different. Here are a few tips to achieve the outcome you are looking for: 

  • Conditions: Examine conditions both at flowering height and ground level. The conditions that your climbing plant will enjoy may be very different at one level compared to another. For example, the roots may be in a shady, cool spot and the foliage will be in full sunlight. Take time to just note these conditions and also the position - whether your new climbing plant is facing north, south, east or west. 
  • Soil type: Make a note of your soil type, or if you are not sure, have a look at what else is successfully growing nearby. Take note of these and share it with your local nursery. They should be quickly able to advise you on a climbing plant that will do equally well in the same soil. 
  • Scale: Consider the size and scale you want from your climbing plant. Wisteria is glorious but seriously vigorous, with long flowering racemes and twining branches that get in all kinds of nooks and crannies. This might be perfect to enjoy draped over a pergola, but a bit much if you have a little 6 foot trellis you are looking to cover. 
  • Maintenance: Lots of climbing plants require a little maintenance. Whether it is a winter prune or deadheading, access is worth consideration. No one wants to be dangling, precariously from a ladder with a pair of long armed loppers in hand! 
  • Impact: When choosing your climber, it's worth thinking about the added benefits it might provide. We all tend to think about colour and visual impact when it comes to selecting plants. But other considerations include wildlife - if you have a garden that is bereft of buzzing, humming and tweeting, a well placed climber could really make a difference. People shy away from ivy, but pollinators go absolutely crazy for their flower heads and if you keep it in check, ivy can be an absolute treat in the garden. Honeysuckle is a real favourite of bats as well as bees and can provide an ideal nesting location for birds such as blackbirds. 
  • Timing: Lots of deciduous climbers will put on a show in the spring or during summer. Others, such as virginia creeper, create an amazing display in the autumn months. And there are evergreen climbers that will provide a lush, green backdrop to your garden throughout the year. Decide if you want continual coverage or not and when you want to enjoy your blooms, then you can easily draw up a short list. 

climbing roseOur Favourite Climbing Plants 

Now the fun bit! Choosing plants. Here are a few favourite climbers to consider: 

1. Solanum: Member of the potato family, this is a cracker! Prolific growth, lots of gorgeous flowers either in purple or white (purple tend to be more hardy). It loves a west facing spot and needs moist, free draining soil. Ideal for putting in a place that may be sheltered and able to climb over a shed roof or fence. 

2. Clematis: With over 300 hundred different species to choose from, there is a clematis for any spot and situation. I have a few in my garden, including Clematis montana 'Elizabeth'. When I was a little girl, we had this one growing in our garden at home, so it was lovely to add it to mine. It puts up with all sorts of conditions, is happy in sun or partial shade and mine is currently weaving it's way through a forthysia hedge, which is lovely. After the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia have passed, the clematis producing soft, pinkish flowers which are a great contrast against the dark green foliage of the hedge. 

3. Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris: A handsome addition to the shadiest of spots, a petiolaris is great in cool, damp parts of the garden. It is also a low maintenance addition, requiring no pruning as flowers appear on previous year's growth. LOVELY! It is a hardy addition to the garden, but can take a while to really get going. I've had one for around five years now and it's only just starting to look like it means business. Still, it's a keeper and a great one for those shady, tricky spots in the garden. 

4. Roses. Ah, I couldn't go too long before mentioning the gorgeous climbing rose. Now, before I get into trouble, let's clarify the difference between rambling and climbing roses. Ramblers usually flower just once. Climbers enjoy repeat flowers. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, just to confuse us all. But this is a general rule of thumb. There is plenty of choice when it comes to roses, including varieties that are fairly drought tolerant. Hot and dry can be as tricky as dark and damp but you'll find a rose that can withstand the chillest north wall or the driest of soil. 

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