favorite climbing plants

Favorite Climbing Plants: My Top Choices

Favorite Climbing Plants Make Gardening a Snap

favorite climbing plants

The Chilean glory vine has masses of trumpet shaped brilliantly colored flowers.

Climbing plants are a great element to include in a landscape design. They’ll climb up trellises, arbors and pergolas, decks, railings, and even trees, given even the slightest encouragement. Some are planted as annuals, while others will happily liven up your yard for years.

Use your favorite climbing plants to disguise an unattractive fence, to ramble over stone walls, to give a burst of fall color and to create shade as they climb over an arbor. Strategically placed throughout the garden, they’ll provide privacy.

favorite climbing plants

Semi tropical passion flowers from South America.

Best of all, your favorite climbers will draw the eye upward, adding a vertical third dimension of height to what is essentially a horizontal landscape.

Their success in providing that vertical element is achieved in a variety of ways. Some vines have twisting stems, others use tendrils that cling and some even grow tiny roots, called adventitious roots on their stems.

Clematis have twining leaf stems, while honeysuckles use their entire stem to twine their way upward. Ivies use adventitious roots, while Virginia creepers  have adhesive pads at the end of tendrils. Sweet-peas have tendrils that cling and wrap around supports.

All climbers need some type of support. In the wild, they use trees, shrubs, and even other climbers. In the garden, you can supply the support by way of netting, trellises, pillars, fencing, posts and canes, as well as other plants. Whatever you use, your favorite climbing plants will take advantage of it to make their way upwards towards the sun.

Here are seven favorite climbing plants I love for both their flowers and their foliage effects.

Three Fast Growing Climbers

Are you looking for some fast growing climbers for an ugly wall, a new arbor or a rock wall?  Here are three climbers so vigorous they tend to swamp everything very quickly.

The glory vine (Eccremocarpus scaber) from Chile is one of these. It will smother a wall and trellis with foliage and bright orange-red flowers, followed by balloon like pods. Another is the coral vine (Antigonon letptopus). which is very effective over an arbor. It has pretty strings of pink flowers. Passion flowers can reach up to 20 feet in a single growing season.

Clematis: a favorite climbing plant

The most popular climbing vine is likely the clematis. They look terrific in spring, when they’re in full bloom, with blossoms varying from snow white through pink, blue and purple. The Montana types are superb climbers, using twining stems to make their way upward. They form woody stems that give a permanent and secure support. An annual shearing after blossoming keeps them within limits.

favorite climbing plants

Some of the large-flowered clematis can have flowers as big as dinner plates – a spectacular feature in the garden. Clematis is generally easy to grow. It prefers shade on its feet and sun on its vines. While this may sound complicated, it’s easier to accomplish than you might think.

Simply plant your clematis in a sunny location, and then plant a small shrub at its base to provide the needed shade on the lower part of the clematis. Because of the many types of clematis, do your research before buying.


Another elegant climber is the honeysuckle. These have unusual-shaped flowers, many with a lovely scent. The flowers are tubular, long and thin, and borne in groups of pairs. With these in your yard, hummingbirds will be frequent visitors. The red berries in fall will be a favorite feast for birds.

Honeysuckles are easy to grow in most soils, with good drainage. They can reach up to 30 feet with sufficient support. Like their native varieties, they do well in shady gardens, as well as spots with more sun.


favorite climbing plants

Dangling pannicles of wisteria can be a foot long.

This beautiful flowering vine  grows rapidly in a sunny location. If you live in a climate that experiences cool to cold winters, wisteria is a good choice, as it’s hardy up to Zones 4 or 5. With dangling pannicles of pea-flower blossoms in spring, it adds a romantic touch to an arbour.

But take note: As a member of the legume family, it has twining stems – stems that can grow rampantly. You may want to have a good strong set of pruning shears handy throughout the growing season!

Wisteria will need a strong supporting structure. Because of its rapid growth, size, and weight,  be sure to train it to grow on a sturdy pergola or trellis. Large wisteria vines, when left unchecked, can easily collapse a deck or other structure. This long-lived plant can live over a hundred years, so imagine the size of the supporting stems!

Trumpet Vine

The common trumpet vine is a rapid grower and prefers a sunny location. Trumpet vines will produce beautiful, showy flowers in midsummer, with colors varying from scarlet or orange to yellow. They cling to their supporting structures with root-like attachments. It’s important to provide good support for trumpet vines when they are first getting started, as they can grow quite large and heavy over time.

Ivy as a climber

favorite climbing plants

Ivy can add fall colour.

There are several different types of ivy, but all are fast growers and will cling easily to walls and stone work. Take care when planting ivy, however, as it may damage the structures that support it with it adventitious roots. These can ruin masonry, especially when the vines are removed.

Ivy is also very dense, which means it will cast shade on the building’s walls. On siding or shingles, this could give you a mold problem.


favorite climbing plants

Pyracanthus growing along my south-west wall.

Although pyracanthus (Firethorn – and it is thorny, with bright red berries), is really a shrub, it can be trained to climb a wall. It has creamy white bunches of flowers, followed by the berries, which can add colour to your garden all winter. Providing, that is, that the birds don’t find them!  1-11-DSC_0017

These are just a few of the popular and favorite climbing plants that can be found in your local nursery. Don’t limit yourself to these, but consider them just as a starting point. Whatever climbers you choose, be sure to plant them in an appropriate location and provide plenty of good support. They will reward you over time by becoming a beautiful focal point in your garden.

Do you have other favorite climbing plants and vines in your garden?