What is a climbing plant?

A climbing plant is one which has a mechanism for attaching itself to walls and structures to enable it to scramble upwards. Some of them have aerial roots to attach themselves to walls e.g. Ivy, some have adhesive pads e.g. Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), some coil their stems around a support e.g. Wisteria, and others coil modified leaves or stems around supports e.g. Clematis.

How can climbers be used in the garden?

Climbers can be grown up house or boundaries walls to soften the solidity of the structure or can be used to cover unsightly elements such as a garden shed.

They can be grown up and over pergolas and arches to create vertical interest, perhaps creating a cool shady sitting area in the garden, or a secretive retreat. Scented flowers over a structure like this add an extra dimension.

They can also be used to scramble over shrubs and up trees to extend the interest into another season.

What can they add to the garden?


A wide range of flowering climbers are available and you can find at least one for each season. They can be bold and bright or subtle, pastel shades.


Some climbers e.g. Parthenocissus quinquefolia have foliage that turns fiery red in Autumn. Others create a luscious mass of interesting foliage in the summer e.g. Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’.


e.g. Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ is a vigorous deciduous climbers with fragrant deep red/purple flowers followed by red berries in Autumn.


Many climbers offer scent and work well over a pergola where you can sit underneath and appreciate the scent.


If you want to disguise an ugly view or building, a quick growing climber is ideal e.g. Clematis montana is a vigorous spring flowering clematis that quickly covers its support. If you would prefer an evergreen, then Trachelospermum jasminoides is a good choice.

Examples of climbers

Click on any of the images below to enlarge and read more details

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