Climbing plants are the picture-perfect accompaniment to any English garden or, indeed, any outdoor space. Whether you have a grassy garden, a cosy ‘yarden’, or a paved paradise, your space is sure to benefit from one of the hundreds of climbing plant varieties that are available.
When it comes to choosing your climbing plants, there are many factors you need to consider. Some varieties might not be suited to your garden, or the speed and spread of their growth may not be suitable for your gardening skill level or the time that you can spare on maintenance. Before breaking out your gardening gloves and trowel, research the different varieties that are available and consider which would best suit your outdoor space.
Our team of experienced gardeners have put together a list of their favourite climbing plant varieties.
1. Roses // Rosa
📅 Blooming season: Summer | 🌸 Flower colours: white, orange, pink, red
Climbing roses are a quintessential part of any English garden. There are loads of varieties of climbing roses, including Eden, The Pilgrim, the Evergreen Rose, and many more. When they are in bloom, they give off a gorgeous scent and are able to add height to any garden, making it feel more spacious and welcoming.
Like all roses, the stems are often thorny, so you should put some thought into placing them somewhere where nobody will get snagged on them, especially when they aren’t in bloom. As the picture shows, this type of climbing plant makes the perfect addition to an archway or pergola.
2. Wisteria // Wisteria
📅 Blooming season: Spring to Summer | 🌸 Flower colours: purple
Wisteria is a magical-looking flower with an even more magical-sounding name. Cascading pale purple or white flowers are the hallmarks of this climbing plant. Whichever colour you choose, your wisteria is certain to have an impressive impact on your outdoor space. Before you plant it up, keep in mind that wisteria can take up to 20 years to flower.
Wisteria is not a plant for a beginner gardener to tackle, as poor flowering can be caused by a massive range of issues (though it is often down to a bad pruning technique). It can be hard to get it established and needs constant pruning to encourage proper blooming, but the final product is worth the effort.
3. Jasmine // Jasminium
📅 Blooming season: Spring to Autumn | 🌸 Flower colours: pale pink, yellow, white
Jasmine is a delicate, pretty little flower that makes a gorgeous display when left to climb up arbours, across arches, and around pergolas. They have an almost star shaped 5-point bloom, and their gorgeous perfume-like aroma makes them a firm favourite amongst gardeners.
As well as varieties that bloom in the spring, summer, and autumn, you can also get hardier winter varieties that have a beautiful yellow flower. Most jasmine plants are climbers, but some are shrub varieties.
4. Clematis // Leather Flower
📅 Blooming season: All year, depends on variety | 🌸 Flower colours: purple, pink, white
The Clematis is part of the vast buttercup family, and it has a beautiful, unique bloom that makes it well suited as a climbing plant. Although they originate in China and Japan, they have been cultivated to survive and thrive in the UK climate, and there are over 350 types of flowers around the world.
Known as the Queen of the Climbers, clematis is hardy enough to grow on a variety of surfaces, so it will fit anywhere in your garden that you think could do with a jot of colour adding to it. Different types of clematis have different blooming seasons, so if you plant a good mixture of varieties, you could have their gorgeous blooms in your garden all year round.
5. Ivy // Hedera
📅 Blooming season: Evergreen foliage, autumn bloom | 🌸 Flower colours: green, white, yellow
Ivy is one of the climbing plants we are probably all familiar with. It is very fast spreading and hardy. It can survive in shaded areas and in full sun, too. There are plenty of varieties that have different types of leaves and flowers, and suit different conditions. You need to allow ivy to reach maturity before it starts growing flowers – constant pruning will prevent this.
The fast-growing nature of this plant means it can cause some real damage if it is left to go wild without regular pruning or cutting back. For example, it can get into small gaps in walls and fences and cause structural damage that you won’t even notice until the ivy is removed.
6. Morning glory // Ipomoea purpurea
📅 Blooming season: Summer | 🌸 Flower colours: Blue, white
Morning glory presents with a beautiful mix of funnel-shaped flowers and striking. heart-shaped leaves. They are a very elegant climbing flower that is unobtrusive whilst still attracting attention. The funnel shape of the flowers makes this a perfect plant for attracting pollinators.
If you’re looking for climbing plants that are low-maintenance but still visually impressive, morning glory is the choice for you. It doesn’t require any pruning, usually doesn’t pick up any diseases, and it isn’t susceptible to many pests.
7. Honeysuckle // Lonicera
📅 Blooming season: Summer to Autumn | 🌸 Flower colours: peach, pink, purple, yellow, white
Honeysuckle looks as sweet as it sounds. An intriguing variety of climbing flower, honeysuckle comprises of trumpet-like clusters of flowers that make great pollinator attractors. They are exceedingly easy to grow, so make an ideal first-time climber, and they can last for many years if they are pruned and maintained properly.
In terms of colour, there is something for every taste when it comes to honeysuckle. Varieties of these climbing plants come in shades of pink, purple, and peach, as well as being available in yellow and white. They look perfect in gardens, courtyards, and climbing up the sides of white-washed cottage walls.
Bonus: what climbing plants grow in shade?
If you have a shady outdoor space, don’t worry. There are lots of stunning shade-tolerant climbing plants to choose from, including:
- Climbing hydrangea
- Passion flower
- Star jasmine
- Virginia creeper
- Japanese quince
How to train climbing plants
Without having any direction, climbing plants can grow wild and start branching out in all directions. You need to make sure you give them some guidance on where to grow.
- Provide support with wires. Run wire across your fence for the climbers to grip onto.
- Use other plants. If planted close to another plant, your climber will use it for support.
- Plant it in shade. If you plant your climber in partial shade, it will grow towards the sun. Ensure there is something to grab onto in this direction, and your climber should stay on the right path.
- Give it a nudge. If you notice a step of a climber trailing on the floor or in the wrong place, pick it up and place it where it should be going. You can even gently tie climbers to the surface they need to climb to help them on their way.
We found this great video by Richard Jackson on training climbing plants here
Enjoy your climbers
We hope that you’ve found this blog informative, and that you can go off and choose the perfect climbers for your outdoor paradise. If you have any thoughts or we haven’t mentioned a variety that you really love, please let us know in the comments below!
Angela Waxler is an ex florist, a professional gardener and has been working in the industry for well over 25 years. Angela has worked with brands all over the world during her career.