Best Climbing Plants

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Climbing plants are among the most useful plants in the garden.

Deciduous climbers are great for growing over pergolas to create summer shade but allow the winter sun through. Evergreen climbers are great for growing over a fence, providing privacy or for covering an old shed or building. Climbers add lushness to the garden and can even be grown as ground covers.

Climbers suitable for middle to northern Australia

Bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea spp.)

Bougainvilleas come in a range of colours with brightly coloured bracts in shades of red, purple, pink apricot, orange and cream. These fast growing climbers can be thorny but are easy to grow in warmer tropical to subtropical zones and will hide low fences, pergolas or walls that they grow over. They can also be grown as small shrubs in full sun or in a pot.

Golden Trumpet Vine (Allamanda cathartica)

Clear buttercup yellow flowers with orange stripes in the throat through spring to autumn. A vigorous evergreen twining vine that would grow as far south as Coffs Harbour on the east coast or Perth on the west coast. Grow in a sheltered warm position and water generously. Will need some support and early training.

Stephanotis or Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda)

A small perfumed climber with white flowers often used in bridal bouquets. The flowers are pointed when in bud but star-shaped when open. Grows in warmer zones by the water and thrives in the tropics. It likes a sheltered position in full to partial sun and well-drained soil.

Orange Trumpet Creeper (Pyrostegia venusta)

Orange flowering climber that will grow as far south as Sydney or Perth. A vigorous, mostly evergreen climber with tendrils that flowers through winter and spring. Grows in full sun in well-drained soil but can become rampant so needs space to sprawl.

Climbers suitable for middle to southern Australia

Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)

A native vine that comes in a few forms including ‘Lady Di’ which is white or ‘Southern Belle’ that is pale pink with a deep pink throat. Flowers for most of the year and grows with medium vigour. Likes full sun to dappled shade in well-drained soils.

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

This is not a true jasmine so will not strangle other plants but has white perfumed flowers. Can be grown in a pot or the ground and grows with medium vigour but can be slow growing in the early years. An evergreen vine with thick glossy leaves that likes sun to semi-shade and grows in all but the coldest zones of Australia.

White Potato Creeper (Solanum jasminoides)

White flowering climber that grows with medium to high vigour in most areas of Australia except for the coldest zones. A light evergreen twining habit which is hardy and fast growing, likes full sun, plenty of moisture but a well-drained soil.

Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda)

There are several forms of wisteria including a white form, ‘Alba’. They also flower in pink and purple and have a delicious perfume. A deciduous climber that will grow over pergolas for summer shade and winter sun or can be trained to grow as a standard or over a fence. Likes a sheltered position in full sun and will grow in most of Australia except the tropical north.

Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandens)

A native climber that has large, bright yellow flowers (7.5cm (3″) in diameter) and thick leathery evergreen foliage. Can be used as a ground cover or grown over a fence but does not become rampant. Will take full coastal exposure and will grow in full sun to partial shade.

Hardenbergia or Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea)

A popular long flowering native climber that has many forms that are all pretty. The most popular form is ‘Happy Wanderer’ which flowers purple, but there are other forms that are white suffused with a reddish purple or pink. It is a vigorous evergreen climber that can also be grown as a ground cover in full sun to dappled shade and well-drained soil.

Ornamental Grape (Vitis vinifera)

A vigorous deciduous climber that provides summer shade and winter sun when grown over a pergola. It has brilliant orange, red, burgundy and yellow autumn foliage but does not produce fruit. Likes a position in full sun and well-drained soil. It can be attacked by caterpillars and suffers from powdery mildew in humid climates

Climbers suitable for cooler, mountainous zones

Chilean Bellflower (Lapageria rosea)

A climber for the very cold areas of Australia that has large red, pink or white waxy, bell-shaped flowers. An evergreen twining climber that grows in shade to partial shade, in a sheltered position. Can be difficult to find and is attractive to snails.

Clematis (Clematis montana)

A deciduous climber with tendrils and an open habit that is best suited to the cooler, mountainous zones. Flowers are soft pink or white and like a sheltered spot in full sun with roots in cool and well-mulched soil.

Further information

Climbers are available from nurseries throughout Australia. Talk to your local nursery about climbers that are best suited to your garden before purchasing.