Climbing plants can transform a dull wall or grey fence into a colourful and spectacular feature of your garden and enhance garden privacy. If your garden is so small that you do not have room for a tree, then a climbing plant will give you the vertical dimension to help create interest in your garden. Climbing plants can create a harmonious transition zone from the interior to the exterior of the home and help to develop that feeling of the garden as an extension of the home. Many climbing plants will also bring fragrance to your garden and most will bring privacy to your backyard and swimming pool areas.
Climbing plants also make a great feature when growing on a a wooden pergola. This can be used with great effect on rooftop garden installations to hide unsightly buildings or provide shade for an outdoor entertaining area.
What are the best climbing plants?
The best climbing plants for your garden will depend on a number of factors including the amount of sun and shade on the wall or fence you are covering. Even then, there is a large choice depending on your personal taste and garden design style. There is a wide range of colour and fragrance available.
What are the best climbing plants for trellis?
Most climbers will require some sort of support to grow on. There are a few that do not require support, including climbing hydrangea and ivy. For most climbing plants, trellis is an ideal support, but make sure you use trellis that is strong enough to support both the weight of the plant and any wind loads. Tensioned wire supports and trellis are the two main types of support.
Our best climbing plants for trellis;
- Clematis Hybrids for full sun or part shade, but keep the roots mulched or in shade. 2-3m.
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera) for partial shade to sunny with scented flowers. 2-6m.
- Climbing Rose for full sun, but they will require strong supports. 2-5m.
Clematis belong to the family Ranunculaceae which also contains delphiniums, anemones and buttercup. The name comes from the ancient Greek word κλῆμα (klema) meaning vine branch. The clematis flower does not have petals and this makes it unusual in the plant world. The sepals, which in most plants cover the emerging flower, have evolved to fulfil the role of petals and it is these that make the wonderful colours. You will se in the photographs below that the stamens have in some cases, also taken on the look of petals.
Clematis are are mostly grown as climbing plants, but some varieties can also be grown successfully as ground covers. There is plenty of choice with over 325 species and these grow naturally in nearly every part of the world and also there are the the many hybrids and cultivars to consider.
Clematis have been cultivated in the gardens of Europe for centuries. In the 1500s two significant varieties were introduced into Britain. These were the Clematis Integrifolia and the Clematis viticella. More varieties were introduced later. These included the herbaceous Clematis recta, and the Clematis flammula and Clematis cirrhosa.
The age of the Plant Hunters
In the 1600s demand for new plants soared and consequently plant hunters began bring back plants from the Americas. However the most significant introduction was those introduced from China. These species included Clematis lanuginosa and Clematis patens and a variety of Clematis florida with double white green flowers was also introduced.
The first hybridisation was the crossing of Clematis Integrifolia and Clematis Viticella and this resulted in Clematis Eriostemon. It was the hybridisation of the original three Chinese species which created all of the large flowered hybrids.
Clematis varieties to look for.
Clematis ‘Shimmer’ is a large-flowered Group 3 clematis. It has huge blue-lilac blooms up to 180mm. It’s the perfect climber to grow up a wall or fence.
Clematis Samaritan Jo is medium-sized, climber growing up to 1.5m high. It has with dark to mid-green leaves. Samaritan Jo has large star shaped flowers and with a purple edged silver white colour up to 150mm in diameter. Distinctive flower stamens are pink-purple with yellow tips. Flowers are produced in a long flowering season from early summer all the way to late autumn.
What are the 3 types of clematis?
There are 3 different pruning regimes for clematis and consequently 3 different types. They are either not pruned, lightly pruned or heavily pruned. Always check with your local plant nursery when buying.
Frequently asked questions about clematis
Is Clematis easy to grow?
Clematis is very easy to grow, but they prefer slightly alkaline topsoil with the roots in the shaped or covered by a mulch of well rotted manure..
What is the best time of year to plant a clematis?
Does clematis need full sun?
Honeysuckles are available both as shrubby varieties and as climbing plants. Honeysuckles can grow up to 6 metres and so make great for covering bare walls. Do not plant these vigorous climbing plants if you are in one of the Melbourne bushland suburbs, because they can escape into the bush and become a weed. There are some shade tolerant varieties, but these tend to have lower levels of scent.
Lonicera japonica is a vigorous twining large evergreen climber with dark green oval leaves. The highly fragrant, white-yellow flowers are up to 40mm long and result in black glossy berries.
The common honeysuckle is woody climber with oval leaves that are opposite in pairs. Flowerheads are long white and yellow trumpets that appear in summer, and are consequently followed by clusters of red glossy berries.
The honeyberry fruits look and taste very similar to blueberries and similarly can be used in jams or eaten raw. They are also high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
The climbing rose is the best choice for hot dry conditions and therefore most Melbourne gardens with a sunny aspect. In garden design they are a great choice for small gardens because they can give a garden vertical height. Climbing or rambling roses can be grown on a fence or wall, but they also have great impact as a climber over a pergola or arbor. This garden design feature will take your eye up and over and back down and also create a pleasant fragrance to greet visitors to your garden.
What are the fastest growing climbing plants?
Climbing plants like Morning Glory and Lonicera are very fast growing but will very quickly become a weed in your garden or in native bushland. Choose clematis or climbing roses instead if this is a risk. Fast growing climbers are therefore suitable for small inner Melbourne gardens, but not bushland gardens.