24 Jun 2015

goodlifehomes - Climber Plants for Your New Backyard

Climbers and creepers are groups of plants or vines that need some type of support on which to climb. Typically, they’re planted so that they can climb onto a trellis, pergola, or against a wall. As suburban divisions produce smaller lots and gardens, these types of plants save space due to the fact that they grow upwards and not horizontally. This could be the perfect plant for your small yard, and a way to inject some character and personality into your new home.

There are many climbers native to Australia that are suitable to Australian climatic conditions ranging from subtropical areas in NSW and Queensland to less temperate areas further south.

Climbers and creepers are groups of plants or vines that need some type of support on which to climb. Typically, they’re planted so that they can climb onto a trellis, pergola, or against a wall. As suburban divisions produce smaller lots and gardens, these types of plants save space due to the fact that they grow upwards and not horizontally. This could be the perfect plant for your small yard, and a way to inject some character and personality into your new home.

There are many climbers native to Australia that are suitable to Australian climatic conditions ranging from subtropical areas in NSW and Queensland to less temperate areas further south. There are also several climbers that aren’t native to the country but can still grow well in our climate. So what are some climber plants that can transform your yard from drab and simple to lush and otherworldly.

PURPLE CORAL PEA (HARDENBERGIA VIOLACEA)

This Australian climber is also known as false sarsaparilla.

This is a twining climber, meaning it will twist or coil its stem around some support, like the framework of a trellis structure or around a tree trunk.

The purple coral pea is a perennial plant that grows into a woody, climbing evergreen up to 15 metres in length. It can be planted to grow on a trellis or against the wall of a building or fence. It flowers in late winter or early spring with an abundance of purple blooms.

There are three other species of this climber type:

  • The deep red coral pea (Kennedia rubicunda) has deep red flowers
  • The bright red and yellow coral pea (Kennedia coccinea) with a mixture of bright red and yellow colours
  • The yellow and black coral pea (Kennedia nigricans) with a mixture of yellow and black flowers.

The coral pea climber thrives in sunny to semi-shaded positions where it can grow in well drained soil. It will grow well in any area between Tasmania and Queensland.

You can propagate this plant from seeds pre-soaked in water for at least 24 hours prior to planting. However, the seeds are unlikely to germinate unless the temperature is 21℃ or higher.

To keep the plant healthy, water it regularly but allow the soil to dry in between waterings.

The best time to prune the climber, only necessary in order to keep its size in control, is after it has bloomed. It will tolerate pruning up to half its size.

WISTERIA MILLETTIA MEGASPERMA

The Wisteria is best known as a native plant of China, Japan, and the Eastern part of North America. The species that originate from these areas have only selective use in Australia for the simple reason that they are a deciduous variety.

The good news is that there is a Wisteria native to New South Wales and Southeastern Queensland, and this species is an evergreen plant with lush foliage and large, white to purple pea shaped flowers.

The Wisteria is a fast growing climber, and care should be taken if planted near buildings as it can fairly quickly cover structures and walls. Planted over a patio or terrace, however, it can provide a welcome shade and cover during hot summer months.

The Australian species of Wisteria can be grown in and around all capital cities in the country, including tropical areas. It should be planted in a sunny position, with care taken to ensure it keeps its roots cool by planting it in humus-rich, well drained soil.

The Wisteria grows quickly with strong stems that need solid, sturdy support. Once it ‘spreads its wings’, it should be routinely trimmed and pruned to stay contained.

This species of Wisteria can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or grafting.

FRASER ISLAND CREEPER (TECOMANTHE HILLII)

This creeper is endemic to Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, a habitat with temperatures that vary between 22-28℃, falling to 14-20℃ in July.

This creeper grows with lush, green foliage on multiple stems that twine or coil around a supporting structure. It can be planted along verandas, patios, or fences, and can be trained to coil itself around a trellis or tree trunk. Wherever it grows, it needs a strong support structure as it can easily damage weak support systems, including building eaves.

The Fraser island creeper grows well in both full sunlight as well as shade. It will, however, grow stronger and more compact in full sun.

It should be planted in well drained soil, as the roots do not tolerate damp soil for long periods. The creeper should also be kept away from building walls where it becomes exposed to the toxicity of concrete foundations.

For best success, apply a native garden slow-release fertiliser when planting the creeper. After this, it needs to only be fertilised once a year in early spring, with a low phosphate, slow release fertiliser.

PANDOREA JASMINOIDES

This is the most ornamental of all the Australian climbers. With trumpet-like flowers ranging in colour from pure white to strong pink, it also goes by the name of Bower of Beauty, Bower Vine, and Bower Climber.

It grows best in the tropical and subtropical areas of Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Pandorea jasminoides’ flowers range from pure white (Wedding Bells and Lady Di) to pink (Flirty Bells). There are new species with white flowers, dubbed Funky Bells and Southern Belle.

This climber is very useful as a creeper that can grow along fences, or as a climbing plant on pergolas and trellises. After flowering, it can be pruned to keep its size down.

The climber flowers for a long period of the year, from early spring all the way through to autumn. The Pandorea jasminoides thrives in overhead sunlight and warm low sunlight. The soil in which it is planted can be dry between waterings, or kept constantly moist.

The climber shouldn’t be planted near underground pipes as it develops very strong and penetrating roots.

GOLDEN HOP (HUMULUS LUPULUS ‘AUREUS’)

This is a deciduous creeper that will shed its leaves during the cold winter months. This could be an advantage for people who wish to have a shaded pergola during the hot summer months, but an unshaded area exposed to the sun during the colder winter months.

The golden hop originates from areas around Europe, Southwestern Asia, the Middle East, and North America.

This climber will shed its leaves as winter approaches, and grow them again in early spring. It’s an ideal and fast growing summer screening plant that sheds its leaves in autumn. Golden hops need somewhere to climb, so they are ideal for pergolas, patios, or trellises, and enjoy overhead sun and low, warm sunshine.

These plants are easy to look after, as they are able to survive without watering or feeding. The only thing you need to do is cut them back occasionally to keep the size under control.

The golden hop will flower after one or two year’s growth; you can then cut the hops and try your hand at brewing a beer!

WONGA WONGA VINE (PANDOREA PANDORANA)

This is a native Australian climbing plant found in eastern Australia, from Queensland down to Tasmania. It’s a fast growing and vigorous climber that grows well almost all over Australia. In colder mountainous areas, it will need plenty of overhead sunshine, but in other places it will grow well in the sun or areas of light shade.

The Wonga Wonga vine flowers in spring, but only for a few weeks. Its flowers range from creamy white and pure white (Snowbells) to a golden colour (Golden Showers).

In its early stage of growth the stems of this climber can be trailed along the supporting members of a pergola or trellis. To maintain its shape in later stages, it should be slightly pruned after flowering has ended.

This climber can be grown from seeds or cuttings.

KANGAROO VINE (CISSUS ANTARCTICA)

This climber is a native of Eastern and Northern Australian rainforests. It’s a fast growing, vigorous climber that can be planted to cover a fence or to climb across arbors or trellises. It’s closely related to grape plants.

It has very ornamental foliage with bright, glossy leaves that can grow to form a dense screen. In spring and summer, tiny green flowers blossom, followed by round, black berries that are a favourite treat for birds.

When planted on a supporting structure, clinging tendrils cause the twisting stems to clasp onto the structure so that the plant can climb.

The Kangaroo vine grows well in fertile and moist soil, and will thrive in both sunshine and shade.

SNAKE VINE (HIBBERTIA SCANDENS)

This vine also goes by the name Golden Guinea vine and Climbing Guinea flower. It grows in the wild across areas stretching from Southern NSW to Northeastern Queensland.

In private gardens, the Snake vine can be planted as a screening plant on walls and fences, and can grow as a scrambler on more established trees or plants. It can also grow as a vigorous climber to a length of 2-5 metres. When climbing support is installed, it twines its way upwards in a snake-like fashion.

The Snake vine produces yellow, buttercup flowers that are 5-7 cm in diameter. These flowers don’t survive more than a day or two, but new ones appear regularly over long periods of time. It flowers throughout the year.

This climber tolerates a wide variety of climates, including coastal climates with salt-laden winds. It flowers more profusely if grown in full sun, but also grows well in semi-shaded spots.

The vines should be planted in well drained soil. The Snake vine is easy to grow from cuttings, however seeds are difficult to germinate.

HONEYSUCKLE (LONICERA)

This genus includes both evergreen and deciduous species that grow as semi-climbers or climbers. Some common species include:

  • Lonicera americana – A deciduous climber that grows up to eight metres in length. It produces prolific amounts of white or yellow flowers tinged with purple,
  • Lonicera japonica – A hardy evergreen climber that grows up to nine metres in length. It produces white to yellow flowers,
  • Lonicera caprifolium – Another deciduous creeper that grows to a length of six metres. It produces yellow-white flowers.

Other species include Lonicera hildebrandiana and Lonicera periclymenum.

These plants should be planted in fertile, moist soil in sheltered positions.

STAR JASMINE (TRACHELOSPERMUM)

There are no fewer than twenty species of jasmine climbers. They all belong to the Apocynaceae family of plants. In nature, they’re found in forest areas stretching from Japan to India.

These climbers are particularly effective for covering fences, pergolas, and trellises as they climb over supports with ease. They can also be grown as ground covers or pot plants.

Jasmine plants are particularly well known for their fragrant flowers. They flower during summer and autumn.

They should be planted in well drained soil mixed with some organic matter, but are not particularly sensitive to soil type or positional aspect. They can grow in sunny or shaded positions.

When first planted, they will need to be watered regularly, but they become more tolerant once they are established.

As a climbing plant, they need a support structure that enables them to climb. The plants should be pruned annually to keep their appearance tidy.

Jasmine can be grown from cuttings in the summer.