Ever wondered how you can dress up a bare wall, unsightly fence or shabby shed and add a bit of extra charm to your garden? A simple solution to turn any vertical space into a beautiful feature, no matter how big or small, is with climbing plants. Cover fences and walls and make the most of your space with popular flowering climbing plants like jasmine, and you can enjoy months of blooms and fragrance too.
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Climbing plants are a wonderful way to dress up bare or unattractive walls, fences, sheds, archways or pergolas and turn them into beautiful living features with just a little bit of care and attention. Choose foliage-only climbing plants with an incredible range of forms and seasonal colours or go for climbing plants with flowers to add blooms and fragrance for part of the year.
They grow quickly and provide plenty of greenery without taking up any space, because they grow vertically rather than horizontally, so they are ideal for small garden spaces, courtyards and balconies. Climbing plants with flowers particularly are a wonderful way to add colour to small spaces.
What do vines grow on?
Vines can grow on almost anything, but when you're choosing your creeper plants, you’ll need to check what technique they will use to move up and out, as that affects what support you’ll use for them. If you already have a structure in mind, you’ll have to choose an appropriate plant, but if you're already set on a plant, you can adjust or build structures to allow your plant to climb effectively.
- Twiners: Plants with twining leaves, such as clematis, use their leaves like tendrils to twist around wires, string or twigs. They will need a support that is thick enough for them to curl their leaves around – a slat lattice will not work. Creeper plants with twining stems twist around whatever they touch – poles, chair legs, branches – either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the species. Twiners are good for growing up posts and poles, but make sure the support is strong enough for the species – a large twiner like wisteria can pull down a porch.
- Tendrils: Small tentacle-like structures extend from near the leaf base. These can look like little coils or springs, or have tiny hooks on the ends. They are perfect for covering latticework, wire mesh or barky branches. Peas are a good example of tendril climbers.
- Scramblers: This type has backward-facing thorns or spikes on stems that grab onto any support. The best examples are climbing roses and bougainvillea. You’ll have to train them by tying them along cables on a wall or over an arbour or pergola.
- Sticky feet: These climbing plants, such as Boston ivy, will stick to just about any surface using tiny suction cup-like appendages. If there is nothing for them to climb up, they will climb horizontally instead. Be cautious with these ones as they can damage surfaces.
How to plant climbing plants
Make sure your plant support is in good condition and stable, especially if you're planting a larger variety of twiner. Dig organic matter and fertiliser down into the soil; if it is very low quality soil, replace some with potting mix first.
Dig a hole about 40 centimetres from the wall or fence. This should generally be about the same depth as the root ball, though check the specific species as some, such as clematis, need to be deeper and climbing roses need to have the root graft above soil level.
Water the climber to loosen it, then remove it from the pot. Tease the roots away from the root ball to encourage them to spread into the soil. Place the plant gently in the hole and fill it with the improved soil or potting mix, then tamp down and water in well.
Spread the plant stems out evenly, placing the stems into their new support and tying them securely if required.
Water regularly and adjust placement when necessary until your climbing plant is established.
How to attach wire to wall for climbing plants
If you don’t already have a surface that is suitable for your creeper plants or you're not sure what do vines grow on, you may want to attach wire to an existing wall for your plants to climb up. You can do it yourself, but the easiest and most efficient way to do this is to take advantage of Flower Power’s garden services. Our garden design and Garden Care services cover the planning and installation of your creeper plants and their supports.