Skip to main content
Hit enter to search or ESC to close

Grow Guide: Climbing Plants

Climbing plants are an essential feature of every garden and they can be used to transform a wall, trellis or fence. Alternatively, you can grow climbing plants through other plants, especially shrub varieties that flower early in the season. A climbing plant can add that extra colour later in the year.

As well as growing climbing plants simply for the flowers, berries or autumn colour, you can use them to disguise an unsightly oil tank, to screen dustbins or to conceal some other unattractive feature.


Climbing plants will grow for many years so it is essential to prepare the soil well before planting. Dig organic matter deeply into the surrounding soil. Dig the hole deeper and wider than necessary and break up the bottom of the hole. Add some organic matter and lightly fork it into the bottom.

When planting close to a wall, it is necessary that the plant is at least 30cm away from it, or even a little more. This is because the soil at the base of a wall is often very dry. For the same reason, if you are growing the plant through a bush or tree plant it away from the trunk.

When planting a climber,make certain that the level of the soil around the plant stem is the same as it was when the plant was in its container. An exception to this rule is clematis, which should always be planted 3-7cms deeper.

Training and Pruning

Fan young shoots out so that they cover a wide area rather than make a single column. Then tie them into the support if necessary. The amount of pruning required will vary with the plant, from none at all to cutting almost to the ground each year, as with some clematis. Seek advice when purchasing as to the individual climbing plant’s pruning requirements.


The best way of tying the plant to its support is to form a figure-of-eight with the string, crossing it over between the plant and the support. Tie the knot at the back of the support if possible or at the side.

Wall Supports

Climbing plants are useful for softening the walls of a house or for concealing an eyesore such as a garage or oil tank. In some cases it may be necessary to construct a trellis or screen. In others, the plants can be attached directly to a wall.

If the wall has to be painted regularly, use a trellis fixed to a frame. Attach this with hinges at the bottom so that it can be eased away from the wall without breaking the climber, allowing the wall to be painted. Use rotating blocks at the top to hold it in place.

Climbers can be divided into these four groups based on their time of flowering or growth habit:

Early flowering:

Clematis Montana ‘Rubens Clematis Alpina ‘Frankie’

Summer flowering:

Jasminum officionale Wisteria senensis

Late flowering:

Clematis vitcellas Clematis texensis


Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Veitchii’