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My Favorite Climbing Plants

Updated on October 20, 2014
Clematis 'Souvenir du Capitaine Thuilleaux'
Clematis 'Souvenir du Capitaine Thuilleaux' | Source

Beautiful Flowering Climbing Plants

Flowering climbing plants are among my all-time favourites in the garden.

I've grown them up walls and fences as well as through shrubs and trees.

They soften and brighten the look of walls and fences. If your fences or walls are low, put trellis on top so climbers can give height and vertical interest to the garden. By growing them higher, you get more flowering space and privacy in your yard.

In one of my gardens I inherited a very boring evergreen shrub. I used it for a beautiful, fragrant honeysuckle (lonicera) which grew through and over it. It was very close to French doors at the back of the house and so we had the benefit of seeing lovely honeysuckle against the dark green conifer together with the scent of the flowers coming into the room.

Many people use climbers along the outside walls of their houses and they can be very effective in improving the appearance of a home.

Clematis Montana - A Very Vigorous Grower

Clematis Montana
Clematis Montana | Source
Choosing Your Clematis
Choosing Your Clematis

Confused about which clematis to grow? This book will help you choose the right one for your garden.


Clematis - A Flower for Every Colour Scheme

The clematis has many varieties. The flowers come in all sizes and colours and you can usually find one to suit any soil and conditions. Some varieties are evergreen and others deciduous. There are the relatively small and simple flowers of the vigorous Clematis Montana shown here, then look at the first picture on the page showing Clematis 'Souvenir du Capitaine Thuilleaux'. You could be forgiven for not realising they were related.

You have to avoid clematis montana in some positions as it can spread extremely fast. It grows thick and is sometimes given the name of the 'mile a minute' clematis because it grows so quickly. Cut it back hard when it spreads too far or grows too thick. It's almost impossible to kill with hard pruning - I know this from the experience of hacking one back with gay abandon twice every year until we moved. It just laughed at me and carried on growing.

Other varieties need a gentler approach and more nurturing. When you buy a clematis, check the conditions it likes and when it needs pruning.

One added bonus with many varieties is, that when the flowers finish, you get an 'old man's beard' effect from the seedheads - see the picture below.

Clematis for Small Spaces: 150 High-Performance Plants for Patios, Decks, Balconies and Borders
Clematis for Small Spaces: 150 High-Performance Plants for Patios, Decks, Balconies and Borders

This does what it says on the cover - helps you find a clematis that will grow well in a small space. It concentrates on new varieties that don't take over but also give beautiful flowers.

Hydrangea Petiolaris
Hydrangea Petiolaris | Source

Hydrangea Anomala and Petiolaris

These two species aren't the same as the more familiar shrub hydrangea which has pink or blue flowers depending on whether your soil is acid or alkali. These are two species of climbing hydrangea. The one pictured here is Hydrangea Petiolaris.

It will grow up a tree or wall which is where I grew one. Mine grew about 6ft in five years after I bought it. Although experts say it prefers acidic conditions, I grew mine successfully in an alkali soil. Don't worry if it doesn't do much for the first year or two, it can take that long to become established.

I like it for its bright green foliage and pretty, restrained clusters of white flowers, quite a contrast to the showy clematis.

Lathyrus latifolius - Sweetpeas
Lathyrus latifolius - Sweetpeas | Source

Lathyrus - Sweetpeas

I have always loved sweetpeas (Lathyrus), ever since I was a little girl and allowed to cut them from the garden to put in vases indoors. I love their perfume, colours and their appearance when growing in the garden or the way cut sweetpeas brighten any room.

The most popular varieties are annuals and they like well drained and manured soil. They aren't frost hardy so here in the UK the seeds are sown under cover in the early spring. Because they have a long root, an ideal way to plant them is in the cardboard tubes from used toilet rolls. Stand these up in a seed tray and when you are ready to plant them out, you can put the tube and seedling straight in the ground as the cardboard will rot away. This means minimum root disturbance so your plants should get off to a good start.

Young Lathyrus are a popular meal for snails and slugs so you need to protect them preferably with organic methods.

When your sweetpeas come into flower, keep cutting them to bring indoors because the more you cut the flowers, the more will grow. Don't you just love plants that keep on giving?

Armitage's Vines and Climbers: A Gardener's Guide to the Best Vertical Plants
Armitage's Vines and Climbers: A Gardener's Guide to the Best Vertical Plants

This book describes 115 climbers with good advice on cultivation


Guide to Climbing Plants - Want to learn more about climbers?

I can only cover a small selection of climbing plants on this page.

There are so many more that bring beauty to gardens and joy to the hearts of the people that see them.

This guide to climbers will give you more information and a much bigger range of plants available.

Climbing Roses
Climbing Roses | Source

Rambling or Climbing Roses

On the side wall of our last house, we inherited a beautiful white climbing rose. Judging by its original main stem, it was very old but it grew new stems and flowered profusely every year. This meant we spent a lot of time looking after it. We tied in new stems, cut out old ones, kept deadheading it and, of course, we had to feed it. Every spring we gave it a special treat - a good dose of well-rotted horse manure.

In the 19th century, climbing and rambling roses were probably at their most popular. Now they are ideal for decorating a pergolas, arches, old trees or a house wall.

Climbers have much less supple stems than ramblers and they have smaller trusses of flowers but the individual blooms are usually larger, 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Pruning is easier too because the flowers are borne on mature rather than new wood. Many varieties also have repeat flushes of flowers during the summer.

Ramblers have long supple stems but are prone to mildew and only flower for a short period in June and July. They are more suitable for pergolas and arches rather than for growing against walls as the lack of air circulation makes mildew more likely. The flowers grow in large trusses are are about 2 inches in diameter.

How to Prune Climbing Roses

Pruning roses can seem a bit intimidating if you haven't done it before but this video shows you how to cope with pruning your climbing roses.

Wisteria grown against a wall
Wisteria grown against a wall | Source

Wisteria - Beautiful and Fragrant

Wisteria are grown for their fountains of hanging, fragrant flowers. They are most often seen grown against the walls of old houses although people do grow them on pergolas and other structures.

They will grow in most soils but poorer soils should be prepared with plenty of well rotted manure. Wisteria needs protection from cold winds and the flower buds can be damaged by frost. Nothing is ever easy, is it?

I've never grown a wisteria although I have wanted to do so. We didn't have anywhere suitable for one in our first garden after we left London. In our second one, we had the same problem. The wall with the climbing rose would have been ideal for a wisteria but we couldn't destroy that beautiful old rose.

A Beautiful Tour Through Wisteria

© 2009 Carol Fisher

What's your favourite climbing plant?

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    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Wisteria, I love them, they are so beautiful

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      These are awesome blooms. I've always loved having climbers in my garden.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      4 years ago from Scotland

      My 2 favourite plants Clematis and sweet peas! love them

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh, it is difficult to choose, they are all so beautiful in their own way. Climbing roses are so enchanting in the garden. Thanks for sharing this great lens. Take care :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks a very resourceful site.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 

      6 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Roses and clematis - they look beautiful together growing up a trellis.

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      i have a wonderfully perfumed jasmine on my balcony in rome!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      I have so many. They are all so beautiful. Thanks for including the video on pruning climbers, it gave me info I didn't know.

    • curious0927 profile image


      6 years ago

      I just love your lenses! So glad you made the FP,,,now I can cruise all of them! Blessed!

    • dahlia369 profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the passion flower, clematis and climbing roses - besides Virginia creeper and some others. I just can't ever pick one favorite, can I...

      Beautiful lens. Blessed! :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      I do indeed enjoy my climbers :) As previously stated, my favorite is probably the clematis, but I have the most awesome Firecracker climbing rose. Impossible to beat it's beauty or determination to survive. Angel Blessed!

    • cinstress profile image


      7 years ago

      great pictures

      I can see why they are your favorites!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      These are all so beautiful! I enjoy a lot of the climbing plants, but I guess my favorite is the Clematis.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love the Blue Hyacinth bean plants. An Amish woman gave me my first seeds in Lancaster, Pa while we were visiting the area. They were all over the fences and trellises everywhere. So pretty ! Save the pods and when dry you have your own seeds for the next growing season. Never plant until the ground is at least 50 º.

    • Stazjia profile imageAUTHOR

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @Grasmere Sue: Glad you like it and good luck with the honeysuckle.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I love honeysuckle- I'm waiting for one I planted last year to come out - hope it will do well. Lovely lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      We've been adding several climbers to our garden. I like fast growing vines like passion flower, but also have a few slow climbers like roses that will pay off in beautiful dividends some day. Blessed by a green-thumbed Squid Angel.

    • Stazjia profile imageAUTHOR

      Carol Fisher 

      9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      [in reply to poutine] I love wisteria too but I've never planted it because it can take ages to mature enough to flower so I've gone for faster flowering plants. I wish now I'd had the patience to plant one but, as I haven't got a garden now, it's too late.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Love your lens on climbing plants.

      My favorite is the wisteria.

      Lovely pictures also.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A great lens that I unfortunately did not find with squidoo search on Clematis. Thanks for the hint. I love those climbing roses...maybe that is something for the future:).

    • Laniann profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful flowers. Climbers and flowers can make such a difference in your yard.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I love climbers too. Once a lovely wisteria covered the back of my 19th century house but it had to go when the house was extended. Curiously, it appeared again from a crack in concrete around my back fence post and for 19 years I've had a back fence covered in wisteria - from that concrete crack. No moisture at all! But I do mulch and feed my white climbing rose. Your excellent lens and clematis blessed by an angel today

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Another beautiful lens. We have clematis growing up the side of our house.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      9 years ago from Croatia

      I love them but my husband is allergic to wisteria! :( Beautiful selection! Blessed!

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens, climbers can make such a difference, even in a small garden they add another dimension. 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have all these plants in my garden, except the sweet peas! I mix climbing roses and clematis and some are now threading through our apple trees. Angel Blessings for a lovely lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I would gladly replace some of the other climbers we have, like poison ivy, with some of the other plants you feature here!

      We have Multiflora roses which have smaller flowers than the climbing roses you show. They are one of the nicer invasive plants in the area because they look nice when they bloom. They also deter trespassers when they grow on the border of the property, but you might find it difficult if you try getting rid of them!

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 

      9 years ago from Columbia Mo

      I've always been a morning glory fan, Lovely Lens!


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