6 fast growing climbers to plant in your garden

Climbing plants are a simple way to add dimension and height to your garden - and the result can be quick and effective.

Climbing plants such as honeysuckle, clematis and passion flower are made for small gardens, patios and balconies where space is at a premium. Grow climbers on walls, fences, trellis, pergolas, even up and over balconies. If you’ve got a bit more space look at ivy or Virginia creeper. No garden? No problem. Lots of climbers can be grown in pots and containers too.

  • Some are evergreen so you get to see the leaves every day of the year.
  • Some are flowering so you have their scent to enjoy
  • Some are even tactile, with flowers or catkins you’ll feel the need to run your fingers over.

Here are just some reasons why you’ll want a fast-growing climber or two for your garden or terrace.

Plant fast-growing climbers in your garden so you can:

  • Enjoy a natural curtain of leaves and flowers
  • Cover an unsightly or ugly fence or wall
  • Have fragrant flowers blooming at nose-height
  • Make the best use of a small space

Here are some of our favourite fast-growing climbers, why they get a nod of approval from us and some handy hints.

Russian vine - Fallopia baldschuanica

  • Commonly called ‘mile-a-minute’ plant for its dependable growing
  • Speediest climber by far
  • Will cover an ugly wall in no time
  • Pink-white flower clusters in late summer
  • Happy in sun or shade

TOP TIP: Don’t be shy to cut back the wispy flower stems of Russian vine in winter to the main framework in late autumn. It will come back next season with just as much gusto. Long-handled loppers and telescopic pruners are useful for cutting back the stems

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

  • Large velvety windmill-like mauve flowers in late summer
  • Basks in the sun; perfect for a sunny wall or fence
  • Comes back summer after summer
  • Lots of flowers at once for big impact

TOP TIP: Every February cut back the whole plant to the lowest buds you can see on the main stems. (They have the whole of spring and summer to create new fresh stems for the late-summer flowers and you won’t be faced with a tangled mess.)

After pruning, put down a thick ring of rich compost around the base of the plant. It’s the plant equivalent of an electric blanket, keeping the roots warm while giving the soil some extra nutrients. It’s the perfect pampering for your climber.

Ivy - Hedera colchica

  • Evergreen leaves for all-year-round impact
  • Self-clinging (no need for supports, wire or string)
  • Flowers and fruits that are very good for bees and wild birds
  • Happy in shady spots of the garden or growing up a north-facing wall

TOP TIP: Keep ivy to where you want it by giving it a haircut (it will take a crew-cut!) after August (birds might be nesting in it until then). Pull up any stems that have crept to the front of the border (unless of course you want them there; ivy makes a useful ground cover). Water well if it’s in a shady spot if we’re going through a dry spell and the soil’s looking parched.

Lonicera similis ‘Delavayi’ - Flowering honeysuckle

  • Quick to produce stems and leaves
  • Semi-evergreen in mild winters
  • Flowers with lemon meringue colours in late summer and autumn
  • Beautiful flower scent, especially in the evening
  • Pretty clusters of black berries (not edible!) in autumn after flowering

TOP TIP: At planting time, choose as sunny a spot as you can for honeysuckle to bask in. Give honeysuckle a heap of rich compost around the roots at whatever opportunity you can. Summer-flowering honeysuckle is hungry and will flower for you more with rich compost in its reserves. Water generously whenever you can at the base of the plant to quench the roots’ thirst.

Climbing hydrangea - Hydrangea seemannii

  • Attractive evergreen leaves for year-round visual impact
  • Covers an unsightly wall with speed
  • Happy in sun or shade
  • Pretty clusters of cloud-like white flowers in summer

TOP TIP: It may not mind shade but climbing hydrangea - Hydrangea seemannii hates exposure so be sure to choose a sheltered wall or fence. Put down a thick ‘ring doughnut’ of mulch around the base of the plant when the soil is still warm in autumn to keep its roots toasty over winter

Climbing rose ‘Sparkling Scarlet’

  • A curtain of scarlet blooms right through the summer
  • Gives you a romantic addition to your sunny terrace
  • Flowers at head height for maximum hit of heady fragrance
  • Partners well with the backdrop of green glossy leaves

TOP TIP: Give this rose a support like a trellis or strong wire and twine to tie it in. When deadheading, wear gloves. It’s a beautiful rose but it’s a thorny customer. Feed well with rich compost, giving the base of the plant a fresh dose each month through the summer. Water well especially in hot, dry summers.

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