Climbing flowers can add a beautiful accent to any yard, creating a vertical focal point along a wall or trellis, extending color upwards along barren surfaces. They can also add privacy, shielding your yard from the eyes of prying neighbors. Some of the most popular climbing plants are clematis (one of my favorites!), Passion flowers, and specially bred, smaller climbing rose varieties.
Like all plants, climbing flowers can use a little extra help when it comes to their care. Following these tips will help give you gorgeous plants.
1. Select robust plants
When choosing plants to purchase it's critical to look for robust, healthy plants. Weak plants that look like they are struggling may never turn into strong, vigorous growers no matter how much attention and care they are given. Buy plants that look really good to give them the best chance at successful growing.
2. Prepare growing site
Work the soil well before planting, making sure to add plenty of organic matter or finished compost to improve the soil characteristics and provide nutrients for the plant. Dig a planting hole that is at least twice the diameter of the climbing flower you are planting.
3. Plant 12" from wall
Concrete walls are built so that the soil around them slopes downwards slightly, creating a pitch that moves water away from the concrete. This prevent long term damage from standing water but can be problematic when trying to plant close to the wall or foundation. Plant climbing flowers about 12" from the base of the wall to keep them out of the driest section of soil.
4. Plant at 45 degree angle
To help encourage your plants to climb, plant them at a 45 degree angle, with the top of the plant angling towards the structure you want them to climb. This angle will make them naturally more inclined to grow towards the structure instead of straight upwards to the sky.
5. Provide something to latch onto
Certain plants like ivy don't need anything specific to hold onto as they grow upwards, as they have developed a unique, energy-efficient system that allows them to latch onto houses, trees, and rocks. But not all plants have this innate ability. Most climbing flowers need some sort of structure to hold onto as they grow upwards. Gardeners' World explains how to attach horizontal support wires to create the structure climbing flowers need.
6. Train to grow upwards
Some plants are natural climbers and will quickly latch onto anything within the grasp of their tendrils. Others need to be trained to help them grow upwards along walls or trellises. You can use twine or garden tape to loosely secure plants to supports until they learn to grow upwards on their own.
7. Fertilizer well
During the growing season, apply a slow-release fertilizer at the label's recommended rate for the plants you are growing. Climbing plants are fast growers and will quickly utilize nutrients available in the soil; to keep them healthy these nutrients need to be replenished .
8. Mulch around base
After planting, mulch well by adding 2-3" of material over the exposed soil surface, making sure to keep it away from the base of your climbing plant. The mulch will help to retain soil moisture while simultaneously helping to keep weed competition low. If you are unsure what mulch is best for your situation, DIY Network offers some great tips on how to choose a mulch.
9. Water well the first season
The first season after planting it's important to water the plant well, encouraging it to develop a healthy root system that will anchor the plant and provide water and nutrients from the soil.
10. Support heavy plants
Even with having a structure to climb, it may become necessary to provide extra support if your climbing plant becomes heavy to keep it from falling forward. You can truss plants with special support clips or tie them up with garden twine.