Climbers are a fantastic addition to a garden. They can beautify an empty wall or shade a pergola.
There are more than two dozen ways that vines climb, but most are basically variations on four themes: twiners, and vines that climb by tendrils, aerial rootlets, or some type of hook.
Twining vines such as these that need only a sturdy support (for wisteria, very sturdy). Little coaxing is required. Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), are twiners. Each encircles its support in the direction predetermined by its genes. In some cases, a vine’s tendency is to climb haphazardly. But first, the tip of a twiner’s new shoot casts about in a wide arc until it finds an object to latch onto. Such efficient climbing allows you to spend energy elsewhere, since it’s often easy to tell whether or not the shoots are heading where they’re supposed to.
That’s not always the case with vines that climb by means of tendrils—angelhair-like antennae that whip about until they find a support, then wind around it. Depending on the plant’s heredity, the tendrils of these “clinging” vines can arise from either stems, leaves, or leafstalks. Members of the grape family (Vitis spp.), passionflowers (Passifloraspp.), and perennial sweet peas (Lathyrus latifolius) climb this way.
A little attention to the type and location of supports is important with tendril climbers, especially at first. Tendrils are short and profuse. Tendrils that failed to find a support may simply latch onto a neighbouring stem or each other. Chicken-wire fencing or mesh for are great for controlling these vines.
Other plants—such as English ivy (Hedera helix) climb by aerial roots and therefore need no help, except in the beginning. You’ll want to prevent them from smothering other plants, and if they’ve latched onto the side of a house, prune them away from windows and gutters and fish them out of cracks. Many of these true clingers hang on for dear life, so much so that removing the stems later leaves the roots—or their fibrous footprints—behind.
Some plants resemble mountain climbers,using hooks to grab toeholds on a support and climb skyward. The thorns of a climbing rose help gain purchase in a tree trunk or latticework, but the canes still need a little training. You’ll want to weave them through a trellis occasionally or tie them to a support.
Some of my recommended climbers are:
Trachelsopermum jasminoides- Star Jasmine
This would have to be my favourite climber. Extremely hardy with scented white flowers. Can be grown in a pot or in the ground. Slow growing in the first few years.
An evergreen climber with thick glossy leaves. Will tolerate full sun to semi shade in all but very cool areas. This is also a great climber that can be used as a groundcover. Can look spectacular around a fence or under standard roses.
A vigorous, mostly evergreen climber which flowers throughout Winter and Spring. Grows in full sun in well drained soil. Make sure you have plenty of space for this climber as it can get large.
Pyrostegia in full flower
Stephanotis floribunda- Madagascar Vine
A small highly scented climber. This plant thrives in the tropics and will not tolerate a cold winter. It prefers a sheltered position in full sun in well drained soils.
Gorgeous blooms of Stephanotis
Wisteria sinensis- Wisteria
A deciduous climber that is perfect for pergolas. It offers winter sun and summer shade. Just be prepared to clean up after it when it starts shedding its leaves! Likes a sheltered position in full sun.
Only plant this climber if you have the space. It can get large and has quite a large root system.
Hardenbergia violacea- Sarsparilla
A long flowering native climber. It is a vigorous climber that can also be grown as a groundcover. Full sun and well drained soil.
Clematis species- Clematis
A deciduous climber that is best suited to cooler climates. Prefers a sheltered spot in full sun, but make sure you keep the roots cool with a good layer of mulch.