Up and away: climbing plants for your fences and walls

Climbing plants bring images of a luxurious, rustic and welcoming garden. There is nothing like spending a hot summer in the shade of a brick house garlanded by ivy. Climbing plants put another dimension to your garden: they go up towards the sky instead of spreading sideways on the ground. They can go on your walls, your backyard fence, or even on a treillis especially made for them. Adding climbing plants to your garden design will bring a sense of intimacy to your outdoor space.

The classic climbing plant is, of course, the English ivy. That’s the one you see on old English manors. However good-looking and fast-growing it is, though, it can get out of control very quickly. If your winters are cool and humid (little or no snow and above freezing temperature most days) it will end up growing like a weed and it will kill all your other plants. There are ways to control and maintain it, but be aware that killing it is difficult and you might end up suffocating your whole garden and even trees.

But don’t despair. There are plenty of climbing plant species that aren’t as invasive as the English ivy. An excellent perennial for colder climates is the trumpet vine. It might take a few years for the flowers to come, but when they show up, they are a favourite of hummingbirds and butterflies. You will need to have them climb along a wall or an old tree, since they develop very strong and heavy stems and won’t stand in a weaker base.

Another slow but impressive species is the climbing hydrangea. Like the trumpet vine, the hydrangea needs a strong base, and it will require time, care and training to climb properly where you want it to go, but it’s totally worth the time. They produce nice white flowers that bloom in June. For warmer climates, the chocolate vine is another great choice. It loves to climb on walls and produces pendant-like brown or white blossoms. Mixing the two colors gives a really nice effect.

If you don’t have walls or strong garden fencing, you still have a few options. Some vines look really nice hanging from pots or even simply creeping through other plants in your garden. The climbing snapdragon is perfect to put in containers hanging from garden doors or tree branches, or you can make it spill over the top of a door. As its name says, it looks like a snapdragon flower. You can even grow it inside the house if you don’t have a garden! It’s perfect for a mini balcony garden and it will enlighten your porch.

As you can see, there are many kinds of climbing vines for all climates and gardens. Even if you don’t have a wall to let it climb on, you can find species that will grow well in pots and hanging containers. You can go to your local gardening store and ask about the best choices for your garden; the specialists there will know which plants are best for you. Good luck with your garden!

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