What are the best Climbing Plants for a Container?
Growing plants in hanging baskets, window boxes, troughs, pots, tubs, even old wheelbarrows is immensely rewarding and offers great scope for your imagination. Container planting is particularly important if space is limited and climbers can be used to good effect for screening eyesores. However, if you want to grow climbers in a container, you will need to choose the variety that you grow with care. By their nature, climbers, well… climb so they need a deep root system to support that all that growth and plenty of space.
Top ten climbing plants for growing in a container
- Annuals (plants that you sow every year) make great container plants and are good value for money. Most can be sown straight from the seed packet into the compost. Good varieties to choose are scented sweet peas, vibrant Nasturtiums, Morning Glory and Black Eyed Susan.
- If you want an evergreen (a plant that retains its leaves all year) consider an Ivy. All varieties of Ivy will happily grow in a shady position, making them very useful in a spot where nothing much else will grow.
- Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ is a brilliant choice for a semi- shady spot and will brighten up the dullest of winter days.
- If you adore roses, unfortunately not many will be happy planted in a container long term. Although you might get away with Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll.’ This highly scented shrubby shrub rose can grow to about 1.5 and is definitely worth a go.
- For vibrant colour, try the patio clematis ‘Picardy.’ All Clematis like to have their roots in the shade so if you are planting it in a hot place, cover the surface of the pot with large stones.
- If you like the ideas of a productive plant, a fig will grow quite happily in a container. The restricted space controls the amount of leaf it produces so it should help its productivity.
- An excellent evergreen for a sunny, sheltered spot is Trachelospermum Jasminoides. A great plant for putting near a window, to allow the scent to waft indoors.
- Although a slow starter, the Climbing Hydrangea, petiolaris, will not require support making it remarkably low maintenance although it will require a lot of watering.
- There are many different varieties of climbing Honeysuckle available to choose from and most will cope with being in a container. The scented ones are probably best for near a door way.
- If exotic is your thing, consider a Passion Flower. The hardiest of them is caerulea but it will need a sheltered, sunny spot to but on its best display.
Choose the right container
Selecting the right container is just as important as the plants that you select and there are an endless variety of materials, colours and sizes available. A taller container is best for climbing plants, as they will need the space to get their roots well down. Make sure that it has a sufficiently heavy base to prevent it from toppling over. Check that it has sufficient drainage holes in the bottom, or drill you own – a waterlogged plant will not survive for long. If your container is going to be outside all year, make sure that it is frost proof and not just frost resistant.
How to Plant up Climbing Plants in a Container
- Place drainage material in the bottom of the container, such as broken up polystyrene, stones or broken terracotta (crocks). For a container 45cm (18in) deep, a 9cm (3½in) drainage layer is sufficient.
- Fill the container with a soil based compost (for example John Innes no. 3) leaving room for the plant itself!
- Carefully remove the plant from its pots and tease out the roots gently. Work more compost around the rootballs. It’s important that the top of the rootball is level with the surface of the compost.
- Firm the compost around the plant, water well to settle any air pockets and top up with compost if necessary.
- Make sure there is a gap of about 2.5cm (1in) between soil level and the top of the container. This will ensure that when you water there will be room for the water to soak in.
- Unless you are growing annuals, one plant per container is the rule.