Climbing plants are suited to a variety of garden and landscape uses. They decorate, screen and frame objects and views. Annual climbing plants are generally lighter than perennial climbers since their foliage is green and not woody, but they still need sturdy support. Annual climbing plants are faster growing than many perennials, although some aggressive perennial climbers produce impressive growth in one season. Gardeners and landscapers have a wide variety of fast-growing climbing plants to choose from to grow on a trellis.
Climbing plants growing on a trellis provide a variety of landscape solutions. Trellises on both sides of an entryway door, on the side of a house or building or on a sturdy post in the garden create supports for climbing plants to decorate a specific area. Trellises positioned in front of garbage can storage areas, utility areas such as central air units or in the corner of the garden do double duty as decorations and screens.
Fast-growing flowering climbing plants include annuals morning glory and climbing nasturtiums, hyacinth bean, climbing snapdragon, black-eyed Susan vine and canary creeper vine. They all sprout quickly when planted in warm, rich soil in sunny locations and grow quickly through the spring and summer, covering a 5-foot trellis in a couple of months. All have attractive foliage and flowers. Fast-growing perennial flowering climbers include climbing roses, established trumpet vine, established clematis, wisteria and bougainvillea. These climbing flowers produce sturdy woody growth and require stronger support than annuals, so trellises should be attached to strong posts or they will be pulled down with vigorous growth and heavy foliage.
Fast-growing evergreen climbers for trellises include English ivy, trailing arbutus, Japanese honeysuckle and evergreen climbing hydrangea. English ivy is a very aggressive climber and requires a very tall support and consistent trimming if it’s to be confined to a trellis. Trailing arbutus requires pinning to grow on a trellis or it will run horizontally along the ground. Honeysuckle and hydrangea, although evergreen, require winter protection in harsh and freezing conditions.
Fruit-bearing climbing plants include grapes, kiwi-fruit, passion-fruit and raspberries. Fruit-bearing climbers require full sun and rich soil with plenty of organic matter to produce a full fruit harvest. Kiwi and passion-fruit are tropical climbers and won’t survive freezing winters but can be grown in large garden tubs with trellises and frequent trimming to keep them confined to supports. Wide trellises are better suited for fruit-bearing climbers than very tall trellises to keep ripening fruits within reach.
- “Choosing and Using Climbing Plants”; Barbara Abbs; 2009
- “Vines and How to Grow Them: A Manual of Climbing Plants for Flower, Foliage and Fruit Effects...”; William C. McCollom; 2009
- “Armitage’s Vines and Climbers: A Gardener’s Guide to the Best Vertical Plants”; A.M. Armitage; 2010
- “Climbing Plants”; William Watson; 2010
- University of Illinois Extension Gardener’s Corner; Add Annual Vines to Your Garden; Greg Stack
- University of Illinois Extension; Climbers and Twiners; Greg Stack