Growing flowering plants on a trellis has some significant benefits. For example, it allows you to use less space than if you grew plants as a ground cover. A trellis can define an area, create a boundary and provide shade. It brings flowers to eye level and gives its plants good air circulation. Match the kind of trellis you use to the plants you grow, using a sturdy trellis with thick supports for woody vines.
Although they have to be replanted every year, annual vines that grow quickly and have abundant flowers give you a big bang for your buck. They also let you change what you grow from season to season. Consider the vine black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) with its showy, black-throated flowers for your trellis. Usually grown as an annual, it is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11. It can be invasive in areas with warm winters. Keep it pruned, and destroy its pruned trimmings and volunteer plants to control its spread. If you prefer an annual with larger flowers in a range of bright colors, then plant climbing nasturtium (Tropaeolum minor). The cultivar "Jewel of Africa" grows 6 to 8 feet tall and features fragrant yellow, rose, orange and red flowers.
Deciduous vines on a trellis allow sunlight to penetrate the trellised area during winter months. Two examples of such vines are "Princess Diana" clematis (Clematis texensis "Princess Diana") and coralvine or queen's wreath (Antigonon leptopus). Providing flower color from summer into fall, "Princess Diana" clematis displays reddish-pink flowers shaped like pointed-petal tulips. Its dark-green leaves drop in fall and reveal the stems. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, the vine grows 6 to 8 feet. If you have a large trellis in a hot, dry, full-sun site, then consider using coralvine, hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11. It is covered with clusters of pink flowers from summer through fall. The cultivar "Baja Red" has hot-red flowers. Be prepared to prune your coralvine so it stays within its allotted space, and cut it back severely in winter to renew its growth.
Evergreen vines are effective for a screening trellis, which creates privacy. Options include Armand's clematis (Clematis armandii) and bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.), though bougainvillea is deciduous in some climates, and certain bougainvillea species are deciduous. For fast-growing trellis coverage in just a couple of seasons, choose the glossy-leaved Armand's clematis. It grows to 20 feet tall where it is hardy, USDA zones 8 through 10. Its fragrant, 2 1/2-inch-wide, white flowers appear in late winter, with occasional summer rebloom. Also blooming during winter, bougainvillea provides brilliant color in warm-winter areas. Its flowers are red, purple, white, magenta, pink, salmon and apricot. The plant's main drawback is its thorny stems. Use a sturdy trellis for the woody vine, which is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11. Both Armand's clematis and bougainvillea are drought-tolerant once established.
A trellis can bring scented flowers close to your nose for convenient sampling. In spring, jasmine-scented white flowers appear on star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which isn't a true jasmine. The plant's wiry stems climb a trellis well and bear glossy, leathery, evergreen leaves. Star jasmine is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, and a variegated-leaf cultivar is available. For summer-long fragrance from large, blush-pink, double flowers, plant "New Dawn" climbing rose (Rosa "New Dawn") for your trellis. Attaching the plant's canes, or stems, to the trellis as they grow is necessary because roses don't have hold-fast tendrils. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, "New Dawn" climbs 8 to 12 feet and spreads to 6 feet wide.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Thunbergia Alata
- University of Vermont Extension: Nasturtium -- A Favorite Old-Fashioned Flower
- Monrovia: "Princess Diana" Clematis
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Antigonon Leptopus -- Coralvine, Queen's Wreath
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Bougainvillea (Group)
- Floridata: Clematis Armandii
- Floridata: Trachelospermum Jasminoides
- Monrovia: "New Dawn" Climbing Rose
- Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International, CABI: Invasive Species Compendium -- Thunbergia Alata