Growing Climbing Plants

Growing Climbers top tips

There’s a climber for every outdoor space, whether it’s a large garden or a balcony. Some are more suited to large spaces like trumpet vines or established wisterias, whereas other are more delicate like some of the ornamental beans and morning glories.

Here are some top tips about climbers to get your climbing plants growing and developing well and producing beautiful, often-scented blooms.

1)      Plant climbers in containers to decorate a patio wall or balcony

Clematis that are not so vigorous that they can be planted in containers are great. Be sure to feed the containers well though as they are hungry plants. Good examples of container-clematis include;

Clematis macropetala

Clematis ‘Miss Bateman’

Clematis ‘Bee’s Jubilee’

2)      Plant in the right spot

The following varieties do well when planted in the garden or on a balcony facing towards or away from the sun.

Shady positions and north-facing walls

Boston ivy

Climbing hydrangea

Garrya eliptica

Chocolate vine

Clematis alpina

Sunny postions and south-facing walls

Californian lilac

Ornamental potato vine


Summer-flowering clematis

Clematis armandii

3)      Planting methods

Dig a planting hole for the root ball – climbers often come in long pots so dig a deep planting hole to cater for this.

Add fish, blood and bone to the bottom of the planting hole and fork the sides so the roots can penetrate into the surrounding soil.

Place the root ball so that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the surrounding soil and backfill the hole, firming the soil around.

Provide young plants with supports to train up to the wall or fence. Many climbers are not self-clinging so it’s worth putting up a trellis or horizontal wires onto the fence or wall.

4)      Prune hard to promote healthy green growth after flowering

The general rule of thumb is to prune after flowering. For spring-flowering climbers, prune hard back after flowering. During the summer it will put up lots of green stems that will mature through the season and flower the following year.

For summer-flowering climbers that stop their main bout of flowering in autumn, you’ll need to prune hard – but wait until after the winter and cut back hard in early spring the following year. By summer there’ll be new shoots and flowers.

Exceptions to the rule

Wisteria – Prune in June after flowering – all stems to six buds. Prune again in February – all stems to three buds

Trachelospermum – Prune lightly – dead, damged or diseased stems only