Climbing Plants for Pots: Your Questions Answered
Climbing plants are a great way to maximise your garden space by growing upwards - but what if you don’t have much space to start with? Is growing climbers in pots a good option? Which are the best pots to use and what’s the best way to look after them? These are some of our most frequently asked questions, so we took them straight to the expert - Mollie, our climbing plant grower.
Which are the best climbing plants for pots?
Mollie: 'There isn’t a specific species that does best, but I would start with Clematis - a lot of plant breeders have modified how Clematis grow so that they’ll do well in pots. All sorts of Clematis varieties look great in pots, such as Carnaby, Warsaw Nike, Hagley Hybrid or Bees Jubilee. If you’re buying a Clematis for a pot, do check first to make sure it’s suitable.'
What kind of pots are best for climbers?
Mollie: 'The cooler the better! Terracotta is better than plastic as it doesn’t heat up in the sun as much. Make sure you get a frostproof one though, as some can crack in the colder weather. You want to go for a pot that is deep - the taller the pot, the more likely the plant will thrive. If you plant it in a shallow pot the roots will get too hot and the plant will die.'
How can I keep my potted climbers strong and healthy?
Mollie: 'Make sure you feed them. They will do great in pots and thrive well, but after they have been in the pot for a few years they will need a boost, so pop some feed in there - a general purpose granular fertiliser is ideal. You also want to make sure their roots are still cold and dark - you can do this by planting some annuals around the top of the pot in spring or adding a mulch covering such as bark chips.'
Keen to put Mollie’s advice into practice and grow some potted climbers of your own? Finding the right plant for the right place is half the battle, so we’ve put together some suggestions for you.
The best climbing plants for shade in pots
Clematis are also a possibility, as they famously like their roots in shade and their tops in the light! For areas of deeper shade, choose foliage plants like Ivy and Virginia Creeper which will thrive in even the gloomiest corner.
The best climbers for sun
Climbers in pots are ideal for sun traps like your patio, doorstep or pergola. If you plant in sun, you can grow all manner of flowering climbers including Clematis, Passiflora and Roses. Be sure to choose a more compact variety suitable for pots, such as Courtyard roses.
Scented climbing plants for pots
Arrange your pots at either side of an arbour or summerhouse to fragrance your outdoor seating area - plants like Jasmine and Honeysuckle actually smell stronger in the evening - try teaming them with solar string lights twined around a pergola and enjoy your plants long into those summer nights. Other good choices for scent are fragrant clematis including the Armandii and Montana varieties.
Best evergreen climbers for pots
There are so many evergreen climbers suitable for pots - arrange them in groups of different heights and pot sizes on the patio or on a trellis by the front door for colour all year round.
Armandii Clematis varieties like Appleblossom are evergreen - we think it looks great paired with Honeysuckle Halliana or Sollya (Bluebell Creeper). The more compact Ceanothus also has spectacular blue blooms in the summer and glossy foliage all year - plant it next to a wall or fence for the best coverage.
Best fruiting climbers for pots
If you want to be super productive and pick fruit from your climbers, there are several that do well in pots, including Kiwifruit, Honeyberries, Passionfruit and Cucamelons. All of these can be container-grown indoors or out (make sure you check that the variety is suitable for your space). Grapes also do very well in pots - they can be trained around the roof of a greenhouse or conservatory, to cascade from the top of a pergola or to climb across a wall.
The best small climbing plants for containers
If you’re looking for a climber to grow up a low fence or wall, or up a trellis, you have some great options. Ceanothus produces masses of bright blue flowers in summer and attracts every bee in the neighbourhood. A climbing hydrangea is also a good choice of shrub for pots, or for the ultimate in tiny climbers, choose a miniature climbing rose.
The fastest growing climbers in a pot
If you need a climber that will grow in a pot and grow fast, it has to be a Virginia Creeper! These vigorous beasties can reach heights of up to 20m which is great if you want to cover up an ugly old shed, a crumbling wall or the sight of your neighbour’s hot tub. Other fast growing plants include Ivy and Wisteria. However, read the label very carefully with this last one - the only Wisteria suitable for pots (unless you’re training yours as a standard) is the frutescens type. Any other kind of Wisteria will grow way too big for a pot and will be too stressed to produce flowers.
Because these climbers grow so fast, you might have to repot them into a larger container every few years.