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Vines and Climbers: Easy Vertical Interest in the Garden

Climbers and vines are the unsung heroes of the landscape, adding vertical dimension as they scramble for the sky.

Vines and Climbers: Easy Vertical Interest in the Garden
Some grow rapidly: morning glory, for example, can reach a height of ten feet in as little as eight weeks. Vines and climbers don't necessarily have to grow up, though. Many are just as effective when incorporated into hanging baskets and window boxes, adding trailing interest.
Add a vertical dimension to your landscape with vines or climbers

Amend the Soil

  • To ensure healthy growth, give vines an enriched starting point. A specialty soil offering a rich blend of organic materials can coax just about any vine to almost twice its reach.
  • Adding compost will help to naturally prevent weeds and erosion.

Choose the Right Spot

  • If training a vine up a tree or wall, position the plant about 18 inches (45.7 centimetres) away from the base of the support. This ensures the vine will get sufficient rainwater.
  • Be sure to match the needs of the vine or climber with the size, strength and position of the support. Beyond noting the plant's light and soil needs, pay special attention to how large and heavy the plant will ultimately grow. Growing a rambling rose over a delicate trellis or elderly tree may seem like a great idea but the result may not be so picturesque if it pulls down branches or topples a structure.

Annual Vines

  • Annual vines, like morning glory, last one growing season, so you can change flower types and colours each year. They tend to grow vigorously, and once they begin to flower they usually continue to do so until frost. They're often lighter than perennial vines, so the support structures don't have to be quite as robust.

Perennial Vines

  • Perennial vines may take a year or two to reach the flowering stage and most have a distinct blooming period of several weeks to a month. Woody vines will need very sturdy supports.
  • Most perennials will also need diligent pruning to maximize flower production and, in the case of rampant growers, keep them under control. For privacy, try perennial evergreen vines.
Vines need a specialty soil with a rich blend of organic materials

Mix and Match

Plant complementary vines close together for attractive colour combinations and a longer flowering season. When planting perennial vines that take a few years to establish, consider pairing them with annuals such as morning glory to provide coverage until the perennial catches up.
Plant complementary vines close together for attractive colour combinations

Choose Your Support

Support systems not only allow vines to reach for the sun, they enhance air circulation, which helps to minimize disease problems. Here's a brief list of ideas:

  • Wire or wooden latticework: Excellent for maximizing a large wall or fence.
  • A trellis or arbour: Can block unsightly views and provide privacy.
  • A tree or bush: Vines can add extra texture and colour.
  • A fence or wall: Vines can help keep your home cool in summer months, saving money on energy bills.
Choose the right support system for you vines


  • Using a functional and decorative trellis will add height and dimension to your garden, creating a point of interest and allowing plants to grow to their full potential.
  • Trellises come in a variety of materials, including wood, vinyl and wrought iron, and can be purchased in-store for a quick and easy fix. There are also options for creative do-it-yourselfers, including bamboo stakes, or even combining mesh wire and screw eyes.
Annual Morning Glories

Planting Ideas for Two Common Vines

Annual, plant after last frost date

Twines up any vertical support with ease, grows well with a bush

Companion plants

Annual Black-eyed Susan


Closely spaced support, lattice or mesh

Companion plants
Fountain grass (Pennisetum)

Be sure to check out our Plant Library for more details on plant varieties, including bloom time, features and care instructions.

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