Arbors and pergolas are beautiful on their own, but the addition of climbing plants and vines adds to that beauty, adds additional shade, and provides an opportunity to customize your backyard area. Training climbing plants and vines is simple once you know the different types of climbers and understand what will work with your design of arbor or pergola.
There are three main types of climbers: scramblers, clinging climbers, and twining climbers.
Scramblers require the most training since they don’t have a natural way to cling to a surface. Scramblers include climbing roses and bougainvillea. To train scramblers you will need to plant them close to the base of the structure and provide a way for them to attach. A simple solution is to place small hooks into the wood and attach the plant to the hook with a twist tie, leaving room for growth and movement. Once the plant is established the twist tie can be removed. However, if you want your plant to continue climbing, you will need to continue this training method up the side of the structure as the plant grows.
Clinging climbers have a natural ability to adhere to just about any surface with their adhesive pads or root system. Boston Ivy is a popular example of a clinging climber and is easy to train. To train a clinging climber you simply need to loosely weave cuttings close to the base of the structure so that they have access to the ground for nutrients. Be careful with clinging climbers! Given the right conditions they can grow rapidly and cause damage to your structure if they get too heavy.
Twining climbers are natural climbers as well and climb up a structure via shoots called tendrils. There are several examples of twining climbers and many of them produce fragrant flowers when in bloom. Popular choices of twining climbers include: Jasmine, Honeysuckle, and Wisteria. Like clinging climbers, twining climbers are made to climb, but need a pole to initially attach to since their method of climbing is for their tendrils to wrap around a pole and move along it. You can also use the method for training that is used for creepers to help move a twining climber upward.
Now that you know how to train plants to climb your arbor or pergola, you can create a beautiful focal point in your backyard.