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Growing up: The art of climbing plants


Every garden needs a few climbing plants or wall shrubs. Flowering vines grow up; they add height, privacy, floral richness, and can be trained to grow on fences, trellises, arbors, pergolas and walls as well as through other plants; adding beautiful foliage and blooms where other plants can’t grow. Vines and climbers are unique because they can grow in ways that tress and shrub plants cannot.

Therefore they have great potential to be long-term foundation plantings in the landscape and can be used in many different ways. They can transform a bare wall into a beautiful backdrop, create a living a living arch over a patio, add color to a gazebo, or create privacy along a chain link fence. Their foliage visually cools bright gardens, and help hot season’s temperatures down by preventing walls from heating up in the sun.

Make A Support
When you plant a climber, don’t assume it will look after itself; only if they have adhesive pad or adventitious roots will do this, most need to be tied to a support to begin with, or be guided towards the support to help it get a grip. Vines spread by climbing, attaching or twinning their way up vertical surfaces or over the ground, and easily fill in spaces where other plants won’t grow. Unless your climber is self-supporting, you have to make sure that it has something to cling to. Trellises are ideal, but if you have a fence or wall, there is need to fix up a network of wires.

Support With Wires
Give climbers support by fixing horizontal wires, 35cm apart, to your fence or wall. On walls hammer vine eyes into the mortal, 1.8m(6ft) apart, and make a series of horizontal rows, leaving 45cm (18m) between layers.

The first row should be 30cm (12inch) off the ground, Thread wire through the first vine eye and pull it back on itself and twist a few times to secure.

Do the same to the other end, keeping the wire taut cut off any excess. With fences, drill holes through posts and fit eyebolts. Secure wire the same way as for walls. You can tighten the wire using a pair of pliers to turn the end of the vine eye. If the climber can’t grip by it self, tie its stems into the wires, keeping the twine loose to allow for growth.

Training Climbers
Some climbers, like ivy, will naturally climb a structure without any help. Many flowering vines, however, need a helping hand to start with. Start by planting your vine at least eight inches from your trellis or arbor. If you are planting next to a structure like a house or shed, plant 12 to 18 inches away from the base of the wall, as the structure will create a rain shadow. Tie the main stem of your vine to your trellis or fence. You can buy plant ties, but ordinary twist ties work as well. Tie more stems to your structure and wait. Every few days check back to tie unruly stems and continue tying your main stem as it grows.

Once your plant no longer needs guiding, discontinue tying.

To control the growth direction of your climbing vine, regular pruning is necessary. If the vine begins to get heavy or bushy in one area, cut it back with gardening shears. Likewise, if a stem is heading in the wrong direction, cut it back.

If your vine does not seem to be growing, there’s the old gardener’s saying about Vines: first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps. Some vines may take two or three years to reach a steady growth rate and three to five years to bloom. However, the time is well worth the wait for a well-trained vertical spectacular.

Types of Climbing Plants
Plants climb several ways: some need vertical support, others require horizontal supports and some need no support at all.

Getting plants to scale the side of a house or wall is an art. When done right, climbing plants can be used to cover an ugly fence or wall with vibrant flora. The trick is to look at the nature of the plant and understand how they are designed to climb. Then all you need to do is get the right support, and in not time at all, you’ll have a wall or unreachable space filled with foliage. Climbing plants fall into one of five categories based on their characteristics: tendrils, twiners, scramblers, stickers, and stem roots.

Tendrils get their names from the slender, wiry growths that extent about an inch from the stems, or the leaf’s tip and curl when they encounter a support.

They need thin horizontal supports to grab onto, no more than quarter-inch in diameter. Two- inch square nettings work well for this. However horizontal strings attached to poles are even more ideal for these plants such as passion flower (Passi flora spp.), Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana), Mandevilla, Everlasting sweet pea.

Twiners have either twinning leaves or twinning stems that need something vertical to twist or turn around. To help twines climb, give them a trellis, string, wire, or a post. Just make sure it’s horizontal.

Twines include Morning Glories, Dutchman’s pipe, Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)

Scramblers are unable to climb a on their own and need to be secured in place with either gardening string or wire, of course their thorns can make this delicate work. Scramblers include Bougainvillea and Climbing or Scrambling Roses, Clove currant vine.

Stickers also have stem tendrils. However, these tendrils come with their own adhesive that enables them to climb with their own adhesive that enables them to climb virtually anything. Stickers include Boston ivy, Algerian ivy, Virgima creeper. They don’t need any additional support other than a vertical structure on which to cling.

Stem Roots
Stem root climbers use clingy stem roots to attach themselves to any surface. These roots are so strong that they can actually damage paint and mortar when removed.

For this reason, avoid planting them next to a house or shed; instead have them climb a fence or trellis.

They don’t need any additional support other than a vertical structure on which to cling. Climbing Hydrangea is a large heavy vine that requires sturdy support. Common ivy is another. It is wise to keep an eye on these voracious growers and prune them back at first sign of unruly growth.
Flowering vines grow up and over fences, arbors, trellises spreading by climbing attaching or twining their way, adding beautiful blooms where other plants can’t grow. Love them or hate them, their versatility is hard to beat. No tropical garden is complete without the addition of climbing plants with their foliage and blooms.

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