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Complete guide to Climbing Plants

Creative Ways to Train and Support Climbing Plants

by Plants for all Seasons 20 May 2024 0 Comments

Climbing plants can transform your garden by adding vertical interest, covering unsightly structures, and creating lush, green walls. With a bit of creativity and the right techniques, you can train and support climbing plants to enhance the beauty and functionality of your garden. Here are some innovative ideas and practical tips for training and supporting your climbing plants.

1. Using Trellises

Trellises are versatile and can be used in various garden settings, from flower beds to container gardens.

Types of Trellises:

  • Flat Trellis: Ideal for training climbers against walls or fences. Commonly used for plants like clematis and roses.
  • Obelisk Trellis: A freestanding structure that adds height and visual interest. Perfect for smaller spaces or container gardens.
  • Fan Trellis: Spreads out in a fan shape, providing ample space for climbers to grow and spread.

Installation Tips:

  • Secure the trellis firmly in the ground or against a wall to support the weight of mature plants.
  • Place the trellis in a location that receives adequate sunlight for your chosen climbers.

Training Techniques:

  • Gently tie the stems of your climbers to the trellis using garden twine or plant ties, ensuring not to damage the stems.
  • Regularly check and adjust ties to accommodate growth and prevent constriction.

2. Creating Living Walls

Living walls, or vertical gardens, are a fantastic way to maximize space and add greenery to urban environments.

Modular Systems:

  • Use modular living wall systems that include pockets or containers for planting.
  • These systems often come with built-in irrigation, making maintenance easier.

DIY Pallet Walls:

  • Repurpose wooden pallets to create a rustic living wall.
  • Secure the pallet to a sturdy structure and fill with potting soil and plants.

Choosing Plants:

  • Opt for a mix of climbing plants and cascading plants to create a dense, lush effect.
  • Consider plants like ivy, ferns, and flowering climbers for a diverse display.


  • Ensure proper irrigation and drainage to keep plants healthy.
  • Regularly prune and trim to maintain shape and prevent overgrowth.

3. Using Arbors and Pergolas

Arbors and pergolas provide structural interest and create beautiful, shaded areas in the garden.


  • Typically used as garden entryways or focal points.
  • Ideal for roses, honeysuckle, and wisteria.


  • Larger structures that can cover patios or walkways.
  • Great for creating shaded outdoor spaces with climbing plants like grapevines or jasmine.

Installation Tips:

  • Ensure the structure is strong enough to support the weight of mature climbers.
  • Anchor the arbor or pergola securely to the ground to withstand wind and weather.

Training Techniques:

  • Guide the main stems of your climbers along the structure, tying them as needed.
  • Prune regularly to encourage lateral growth and fuller coverage.

4. Training Climbers on Wires and Cables

Using wires and cables is a discreet and flexible method to support climbers, especially against walls or fences.

Wire Systems:

  • Install stainless steel wires horizontally or vertically, securing them with eye bolts or wall anchors.
  • Use tensioners to keep the wires taut.

Cable Systems:

  • Similar to wire systems but use thicker, more robust cables for heavier climbers.
  • Ideal for plants like wisteria or large climbing roses.

Training Techniques:

  • Attach the main stems of the climbers to the wires or cables with plant ties.
  • Space the wires or cables according to the growth habit of the plant, allowing enough room for expansion.

5. DIY Supports and Creative Solutions

Get creative with DIY supports using everyday materials to add a unique touch to your garden.

Bamboo Teepees:

  • Use bamboo canes to create a teepee structure for lightweight climbers like sweet peas and morning glories.
  • Secure the tops of the canes together with garden twine.

Repurposed Items:

  • Old ladders, bicycle wheels, and even bed frames can be repurposed as supports for climbing plants.
  • Ensure the items are securely anchored and stable.

String and Netting:

  • Use strong garden twine or netting to create temporary supports for annual climbers.
  • Ideal for vegetable gardens, supporting plants like beans and peas.

Training Techniques:

  • Regularly guide and tie new growth to the supports to ensure even coverage.
  • Prune excess growth to maintain the desired shape and prevent overcrowding.

Final Tips for Success

1. Choose the Right Plants:

  • Select climbing plants that are well-suited to your garden’s climate, soil, and sunlight conditions.

2. Provide Proper Care:

  • Ensure your climbers receive adequate water, nutrients, and protection from pests and diseases.

3. Regular Maintenance:

  • Prune and train your climbers regularly to maintain their health and shape.

4. Be Patient:

  • Climbing plants may take a season or two to establish and fully cover their supports, but the wait is worth it for the stunning results.

By using these creative ways to train and support your climbing plants, you can enhance your garden’s vertical spaces and create a lush, green sanctuary. Whether you’re working with a small urban garden or a sprawling backyard, there are endless possibilities to explore. Happy gardening!

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