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Types of Climbing Plants

Wisterias, Other Climbers, Creepers

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Wisteria Deer-resistant vine Picture.

Wisteria is a deer-resistant vine.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

After presenting my overview on Page 1, it's time to provide details about particular types of climbing plants. Follow the links I furnish below to access growing tips for the examples discussed.

As already stated, wisteria vines make excellent "roofing" for garden arbors. Make sure your structure is solid, because these plants become quite heavy as they mature. But with their fantastic drooping racemes, they're unquestionably best displayed when grown above ground level, so it behooves you to provide support for them.

You can be sure that the flowering of any successful wisteria vine has been the subject of many a double take from passersby. A stunning bloomer, in spring this climbing plant yields large, drooping clusters of fragrant bluish-purple or white flowers. Wisteria vines can be grown in zones 3-9.

But a distinction needs to be made between Chinese wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis) and Japanese wisteria vines (Wisteria floribunda), on the one hand, and American wisteria vines (Wisteria frutescens) on the other. These are three distinct climbing plants, despite the fact that they belong to the same genus.

One problem with the Chinese and Japanese wisteria vines is waiting for their success -- i.e., flowering. Waiting for them to finally flower can be just too long a wait for some folks, although some growers report success in speeding up their flowering through rigorous pruning (for more information, see my full article on wisteria vines.

Another problem with Japanese and Chinese wisteria vines is the potential for invasiveness. You'd better be a hands-on gardener if you want to grow Chinese wisteria vines or Japanese wisteria vines. Be ruthless about keeping their growth checked through pruning.

One solution to the long wait for flowering, if you can afford it, is to buy an older (and consequently more expensive) specimen from your nursery. If you shop for wisteria vines in spring at nurseries, you can scout for plants already in bloom.

Although wisteria vine tolerates shade, for best blooming grow it in a sunny area.

But a better solution (in North America) is to buy American wisteria vines. Not only is the latter less invasive, but it also blooms faster, too. The exotic wisteria vines are more frost-sensitive as well. American wisteria vines flower in lavender or mauve, and it will sometimes bloom again in September.

Other Types of Climbing Plants

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is another invasive plant. It produces reddish orange or salmon flowers throughout most of the summer months. Zones 4-9. Provide it with an arbor, trellis or fence on which to grow. This vigorous grower does need to be contained if you don't want it spreading all over the place. Faithfully pull up any new shoots that pop up from the root system, and remove the seeds before they fall upon the earth. Indeed, in the southeastern U.S. trumpet vine is sometimes considered a weed. Birdwatchers will love the fact that trumpet vines draw hummingbirds, but those who seek a lower-maintenance vine will want to substitute with something like sweet pea.

Winter creeper (Euonymus fortunei) is winter-hardy to zone 4. This broadleaf evergreen is grown for its foliage, not its flower. There are numerous cultivars of winter creeper. Some are used as ground covers for erosion control, while others are allowed to grow up walls (for instance, to hide an unattractive shed wall). Unfortunately, its "effectiveness" as a ground cover has much to do with its invasive quality.

Jackman clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is highly sought after for its large red, white, pink, purple, or lavender flowers. Zones: 3-8. A trick to success with clematis is growing the plant in sunlight but keeping its roots cool. This may be achieved by mulching or planting low plants over the clematis' root zone to provide ground shade. Also be careful when pruning clematis. Some types flower on the previous season's wood, others on new growth. Make sure you know what type of clematis that you have before pruning it.

On Page 3 I'll continue with descriptions of types of climbing plants that I recommended. But first, I'll suggest avoiding a certain vine plant....

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