A Guide To Mastering Climbing Plants

While climbing plants and vines grow naturally in many tropical and temperate forests, what do gardeners need to know about caring for these varieties at home?

From banksia rose to bougainvillea, climbing plants sure are a versatile lot. Often grown for their flowers, foliage, scent or even fruit, they can be used to form screen walls and fences, provide shelter from the sun and most of all they add interest and height to your garden. 

As we’ve seen from the rise in popularity in pothos and ivy varieties, they can even make great additions as indoor plants grown on a smaller scale in pots – so what do green thumbs need to know about taking care of these creatures?

The Basics Of Caring For Climbing Plants 

As a general rule, outdoor climbers have a variety of techniques for moving upwards and outwards. Savvy gardeners need to know which technique your plant uses to climb, as this will determine the type of structure or support that you need to provide in order for them to grow at their best. 

Twiners – These guys have flexible new stems that twist around just about any support structure of a suitable thickness. While they’re great for growing on posts and poles, make sure the support is strong enough, as a large twiner like wisteria can crush soft timber and strangle trees. 

Tendrils – Climbing plants with tendrils have small tentacle-like structures that extend from near the leaf base. These can often resemble little coils or springs, or have tiny hooks on the ends. They’re often the ideal choice for covering latticework, wire mesh or cable-wire fences.

Scramblers -While good examples are roses and bougainvillea varieties,  scramblers have backward-facing thorns or spikes on stems that grab onto any support. Usually, the simplest way to deal with them is to train them along cables on a wall, or over an arbour or pergola.

Sticky Feet – Several climbers adhere to just about any surface using tiny suction cup-like appendages or dense clusters of aerial roots. These climbers should be handled with care, as they can damage painted, timber and rendered surfaces, and can even get into mortar joints.

As a general rule, most climbing plants will grow at their best in well-drained soils rich in organic matter. Evergreen climbers can be planted at most times of the year, but be sure to add mulch around the plant to help keep the roots cool and moist, as it will also limit weed growth.

If you’re in the process of introducing climbing plants to your garden, aim to plant your new climber 25 to 45 centimetres away from the base of your support structure, so that water can still reach the root of your plant. The type of climbing plant you are cultivating will determine how you care for it, and what kind of structure you will use to support it.

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Thankfully, there’s a wide variety of options for supporting your climbers, as these are one of the most essential components in ensuring that they reach adulthood. Wire mesh, trellis, arches, walls, fences and pergolas are usually the winners, and are regarded as highly effective when it comes to providing your climbers with the support that they need to flourish.

If you’re weighing up which type of climber to opt for, some of the most popular and visually appealing options for gardeners in Australia include wisteria, grapevine, bougainvillea, creeping fig, star jasmine, banksia rose, and even the humble passionfruit vine. 

Some of these grow significantly faster than others, and take care that you triple check the requirements of each variety before making your selection, particularly when it comes to their soil preferences, sun vs shade requirements, how much water they require, and even their likelihood to rapidly take over entire patches of your garden or dwelling. Please note, a lot of climbing plants are considered invasive species due to their fast growing nature and ability to choke out other plants so before planting make sure you know your local areas climbing weeds. You don’t want any garden escapees!

Optimising Your Soil For Climbing Plants 

Do your plants – and yourself – a favour, and give them a head start by optimising your soil prior to planting. By adding a natural plant food like Biotic Booster, this will help your garden to: 

  • Provide essential nutrients and microbes 
  • Act as a liquid fertiliser to unlock your soil’s potential 
  • Drought proof your plants and lower water consumption
  • Increase and speed up the germination process
  • Assist in protecting your plants from pests and diseases 
  • Provide an organic solution that’s safe to use around your  herbs, fruit and veggies

If you’re ready to take the leap into improving the health of your plants while minimising the use of chemical based fertilisers this Spring, then it may be time to try a plant food and plant probiotics. Our Ultimate Garden Health Pack includes our Biotic Booster, FP-60 Probiotic spray, RE-250 Soil Energiser. In each concentrated bottle, millions of natural bacterias are waiting to find a new home in your garden.

Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant food and plant probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your garden or even what to plant in Spring, get in touch with us today.