Climbing plants are that great "extra" layer in gardening: the vertical. Essential climbers include clematis, honeysuckle, hydrangea, ivy, jasmine, grape vines, Virginia creeper and wisteria. Mature climbing plants are a haven for insects and nesting birds, and several of them do double duty as ground cover.
Climbers are an essential part of the traditional "English landscape garden", clothing walls, scrambling into trees, hiding unsightly features and adding another dimension to any planting scheme. They are great in the smaller garden, where they take up a small amount of root space relative to their size and impact.
All climbing plants are pot grown, and they are all covered by our Guarantee.
Climbing roses are listed in the rose section.
As with property, the first thought with climbing plants should be location, location, location. It is possible to move most climbers if you find they are not right where you planted them originally but, without exception, they will need to be cut back very hard beforehand. At best, you will lose years of growth as a result. At worst, they will die in the attempt. Next, consider the final size and, with heavy fellows like Wisteria, the need for sturdy and permanent support. Remember that thorns on climbing roses are usually a bad idea close to paths, doors and windows. Once you've accounted for all that, then think about flowering season, colour and scent.
Like most plants, climbers love diligent soil preparation to add lots of humus and improve drainage. The exception is planting in heavy clay (which ivy loves, for example), where you just loosen up the soil, remove a square portion as big as the pot the plant comes in, pop in the plant and firm the clay back down around the rootball.
Most of them prefer an open airy position, but many coloured clematis look best in partial shade (and all clematis need shaded roots), and there are several good options for full shade.
The two extra considerations are to do with support. Give some thought to how large, and heavy, your wisteria will be in ten, twenty, why not fifty years. The support, whether man-made or natural, needs to be strong and durable enough.
Next, climbing plants should be planted far enough away from their support, or tree host, so that their roots are not outcompeted or too dry. With trees, plant a climber at the edge of where the tree's branches end, not next to the trunk. For much the same reason, plant at least 45cm (better 60cm) away from a wall. The soil immediately next to most walls is poor and dry. As always, we 100% recommend that you use rootgrow fungi.
Climbers for North Facing Walls
Garden books always talk about the necessity for 'well-drained soil', 'well rotted manure', and 'a sunny spot' without really ever specifying how well, or how sunny. This can induce gloom in a gardener with a shady garden devoid of friable (another of those words), rich soil. But Beth Chatto, t...
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