Pershore's Plantsman - Flowers that climb
PUBLISHED: 13:49 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:13 20 February 2013
Climbing plants can be hard to get right. Bob Hares of Pershore College has some tips for success.
Can you recommend a vigorous climbing plant for a sunny, sheltered spot in my garden to flower freely from mid to late summer, and one which will be happy in a limey soil? We were looking for a change from roses and clematis.
My choice here would be Solanum crispum Glasnevin. It is sometimes given the name climbing potato, and you might be put off by that name. Although its flowers do resemble the potato flower, they are slightly fragrant, a rich purple-blue in colour, with a bright yellow beak, and are borne in loose clusters from around July until September. This vigorous and lovely plant will give a pleasing luxuriant feel to the garden and is one which will thrive in any good garden soil, provided the situation is sunny and sheltered, and is most useful for scrambling over fences and old sheds!
Some years ago I planted a yellow Banksian rose, but it has produced very little flower. I understand it needs a warm sunny wall in order to ripen the growth, which I have provided, and that it will not flower freely when young. Foliage-wise, it looks a picture of health!
For those who are not familiar with this climber, Rosa banksiae Lutea, it is a most beautiful rose with slender, almost thornless shoots, which, in early summer, are covered in double yellow flowers when the plant is mature. As you seem to have planted it in a good position, I think I can be fairly certain that you are either pruning too hard, or at the wrong time of the year (or both!). Be sure to limit your pruning to removing only those shoots that are growing in the wrong direction, and that cannot be tied in to a suitable position, doing this immediately after any flowering is over. I feel sure if you follow these rules, you will soon be rewarded with a magnificent display, increasing as the years go by,
Is there an evergreen climber which is self-clinging, tolerant of a shady wall, and which will flower in late summer?
Yes! Its name is Pileostegia viburnioides, and one which is, in my opinion, underrated. It can sometimes be a little slow to get going, but once established, it is a very useful plant indeed. Pileostegia belongs to the hydrangea family, and is quite undemanding. It will grow in sun or shade, and just requires a wall or tree trunk for support. It has narrow, leathery leaves, and it produces masses of tiny, creamy-white flowers in late summer and autumn, which makes it a very useful plant for many a garden.
Bob Hares provides a FREE gardening advice service to Royal Horticultural Society members every Monday at Pershore College from 9am to 4.30pm. Personal visits are by appointment. Bobs advice line telephone number is 01386 551145.