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Easy to build supports for climbing plants

Updated on September 4, 2016
Passion fruit
Passion fruit | Source

Climbing plant supports

Have you ever thought about growing a climbing plant but weren't sure what you could have it growing on? Often people build pergolas and have plants climbing up the side. I think these are an elegant addition to a garden or back yard. The plants that are used could be a type that are pruned to grow over a garden structure or are a naturally climbing plant. Today I would like to show you how we have solved this problem here at our home in Brazil.

Before we decided to do this, we used a shade netting with a 75% protection. We have very strong sun here and wanted to protect the plants growing below. Unfortunately we also have strong wind. The net proved very difficult to secure and as such we decide to use a plant as shade .

The passion fruit vine grows vigorously here and this is why we decided to use it. To the right, you will see a photo of our passion fruit, it may be slightly different to the type you are familiar with. Here it is called maracuj√°.

Installing concrete supports

Because we live in an area with strong winds, we knew whatever structure we put up had to withstand this. We decided to use reinforced concrete posts. However, these alone would not give us the solid structure we desired. Plus as we wanted to be able to walk beneath it, we needed to make sure it was going to be high enough.

My husband decided to use concrete columns which are readily available here, these are approximately 2' tall.

Using a fence post digger, we dug down and filled the hole with concrete and put in reinforcing rods. On top of this was the column and finally two men lifted the concrete stack into the column and lowered it inside 20". Concrete was then poured in.

Plant supports for climbing plants
Plant supports for climbing plants | Source

Rust resistant wire

Once the concrete was sufficiently dry, we began to connect the wires. Because of our close proximity to the ocean, we have a lot of salt in the air. This causes rust on untreated metals.

We decided to use a wire that is plastic coated. We had used this before here on our farm and knew that it was up to the job.

This was tightened around the posts as it was going to be taking a lot of weight when the plant and fruits begin to cover it.

The posts could of course be painted, so they are hidden almost in the greenery. If you do decide to paint, make sure it is a paint that can be used around a food product. You wouldn't want anything leaching into the ground that could be harmful.

Wire for plant supports
Wire for plant supports | Source

Training climbing plants

As the plant grows, we help any wayward strands that are looking for something to grip onto. The long tendrils then grab hold and wrap themselves around the wire, gripping tightly. As you can tell, it is still early days with our plants. After the wet season, the growth will accelerate, and I will update the photos to show you.

Would you consider constructing something like this?

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Passion fruit
Passion fruit | Source

Planting from seed

I would like to share with you how I acquired the seeds of these plants. I was driving along in my beach buggy when I ran out of gas. The gas gauges are notoriously unreliable in them, in fact many people keep a plastic tube in their buggies to manually check the level in the tank.

I rolled to a stop in front of a house and went to the front gate. Here in Brazil, it is customary to clap and wait for a response before entering someone's property or land. Where I live, people leave their doors open and often have dogs that are loose. A woman about my age with a shock of grey frizzy hair came up to the gate with a child of about 6 in tow.

I explained that I had run out of gas and she hailed a passing cyclist on a bicycle. She found an empty Coca-Cola bottle in her yard and gave it to him. I gave him R$3 which is about $1.50 to buy me a liter of gasoline. He cycled off and she invited me into her yard to sit in the shade. I sat on a rickety wooden chair in the sand under the tree and waited. She offered me a glass of water, which I gratefully accepted.

Her house was made of adobe and wooden sticks and one wall had collapsed and was now covered with a tarp. This appeared to have been like this for some time. Here it is only the rain that needs to be kept out as the temperature in this region is always warm.

Whilst I was waiting I was looking at the plants in her garden. The soil here is sand. I don't mean sandy I just mean sand and it amazes me that people will just stick a cutting in the ground and it will grow. She had the largest lemons I had ever seen growing and I commented on them. The next thing I knew, she was filling plastic bags with lemons, passion fruit, and digging up bulbs from her garden. We were talking about the different plants, and she was telling me how they use them as homemade remedies for various ailments.

The man arrived shortly with the Coke bottle half full of gasoline, I thanked him and paid him for his time. I wasn't sure how to thank the woman who had been so kind, so I returned the following day with plants from my garden and some chocolate for her granddaughter.

I stop by every once in a while and she shows me new things that she has planted in her garden and tells me what is occurring with her family. It was from the passion fruit that she gave me on that day that we now have growing. We drink the juice several times a week, below is a link to how I prepare it.


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