Climbing plants are usually not front and center in most gardener’s minds—flowers, shrubs and trees get all of the spotlight—but adding a vine can transform the look of your whole yard. They’ll turn a wall into a blanket of green, transform a pergola into an archway of flowers, or convert a chain link fence into a privacy shade. They are as low-maintenance as any shrub but can bring an entirely new dimension to your landscape.
If you’re looking for a tough vine to bring flowers to your yard, look no further than the hardy wisteria. This plant has so much vitality that the challenge is to keep it from growing too much. Still, regular pruning solves that dilemma—and your effort pays off by the outstanding lilac blossoms that hang like waterfalls in late spring and early summer. Over time, it grows a twisting and gnarled trunk that brings an old-growth feel to your landscape.
Clematis is one of the most well-known and commonly cultivated climbing plants. Many species are available for gardening, with blossoms ranging from blue to indigo, purple, pink, yellow and white. Some flower on new growth, making them low maintenance and easy to prune each year. Others bloom on second-year growth; these will require careful pruning to avoid cutting off next year’s flowers. Clematis easily grow on fences, pergolas, archways, and up other trees without damaging the structures beneath them.
Climbing roses bring unique beauty to your yard and can become the focal point of your patio, walkway, or entrances. Unlike vines, they actually don’t have tendrils to climb structures. They just have extra-long canes that can be tied and woven into a trellis. The result is an impressive wall of blooming roses. Like their shrub-growing cousins, climbing roses benefit from pruning, deadheading, and fertilizing to keep the plants vibrant and healthy.
Hydrangeas are known for their massive flower clusters that bloom during the summer above rich green leaves. Now imagine that same beauty spreading up a trellis and draping a wall in abundant leaves and blossoms. That’s what you can expect from a climbing hydrangea, although it may take three years of slow growth before they bloom. In the long run, it’s well worth the wait to have these luxurious vines in your landscape. And their slow-growing style makes them a low-maintenance climbing plant.
Virginia Creepers are vigorous vines with lush green leaves that turn burgundy in the fall. These popular plants easily blanket walls, fences, and pergolas in greenery. Like wisteria, they’re such enthusiastic growers that they need regular pruning. Their tendrils form such firm grips; they should only be grown where you want a permanent vine because removing them may cause damage.
Climbing plants can be a low-maintenance choice that adds a new facet to your landscape. When your ground space is full, they open up possibilities for vertical growth. And even if you have lots of ground to work with, they bring gifts of overflowing leaves and flowers that simply can’t be duplicated by a shrub or tree!