Hhoneysuckle plant on a wood fence.

How to Plant a Climber Plant in Your Garden

Create a wall of flowers and foliage by clothing your boundaries and other vertical surfaces with beautiful climbers. The planting method shown here is ideal for twining climbers and roses that need some support; ivy and other self-clinging plants will not require wires.

When to plant: Autumn or early spring.

At their best: Summer, for honeysuckle shown.

Time to complete: 2 hours.

You will need: Climber—honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, screwdriver, plastic-coated wire, vine eyes, well-rotted organic matter, all-purpose granular fertilizer, bamboo canes, garden twine, bark chipping mulch, spade and trowel.

Wire up your surface

Screw parallel rows of vine eyes, 18in (45cm) apart, into wooden fence posts (use a drill and Rawlplugs in concrete posts). Fix horizontal wires between each row, and turn the vine eyes a few more times to tighten the wires.

Dig a planting hole

Prepare the soil. Dig a hole twice as wide and a little deeper than the plant pot, about 18in (45cm) from the fence or screen. Place the plant in its pot into the hole to check the planting depth.

Insert canes

Place the bamboo canes in the hole at the edge closest to the fence or screen. Arrange the canes in a fan shape and attach them to the horizontal wires. These will provide the climbing plant with a temporary support until it reaches the wires.

Position the plant

Water the plant, then remove it from its pot. Place it in the hole and lean it toward the fence; make sure the root ball is not above the soil surface. Add fertilizer to the excavated soil and backfill.

Create a reservoir

Using some of the surrounding soil, form a circular ridge around the base of the climber to create a saucershaped depression. This acts as a water reservoir, and guides moisture to the roots.

Final touches

Tie the stems loosely to the bamboo canes with garden twine. Water the plant and mulch with organic matter or chipped bark, keeping it clear of the stems. Water regularly throughout the first year, especially during dry spells.

Choosing climbers

Climbers have developed a variety of means to adhere to vertical surfaces, and knowing what method your chosen plant uses will help you provide the right support. Use the examples below as a guide.

How climbers climb

Some climbers attach themselves to surfaces without requiring additional support. These include ivy (Hedera), which clings using aerial roots, and Virginia creeper and Boston ivy (Parthenocissus species), which use adhesive pads. Plant self-clingers with caution because they can damage old or weak brickwork.

Roses climb using their thorns to hook onto taller plants; unless you grow them through a host plant, they need support from horizontal wires or a trellis. Clematis, sweet peas, passion flower (Passiflora), and honeysuckle (Lonicera), among others, use twining stems or tendrils to climb, and are best supported by stakes or wires thin enough for them to wrap around, or by growing them through a host plant.

Select the right support

Check the final height of your chosen climber, and select a support that will be large and strong enough for a mature plant. As an alternative to wires, you can tie smaller climbers directly to a trellis, or a bought or home-made obelisk. Threading climbers through shrubs or trees takes up no extra space and offers a dual effect—perfect for small plots.