Brian's House Building Blog

The best climbing plants for pergolas

by Peyton Sanders

Installing a patio with a pergola in your garden can be a great idea for many reasons. It can act as a social space where you can host cocktail evenings with friends or summer barbecues with extended family. It can be a comfortable area for you to sit and enjoy the surroundings of your peaceful garden. And it can even add considerable value to your property. But once the construction team has left your garden, this is not the time to ignore your patio. You need to pay attention to the space in order to create a seamless connection between inside and outside via your patio and pergola.

One great way of doing this is with climbing plants. Patios and pergolas can be blank canvases where plants grow to create beautiful structured spaces that still have a sense of the wild outdoors. But which are the best climbing plants for an outdoor pergola?

Clematis. Clematis is a go-to climbing plant for outdoor structures because even an amateur gardener can easily get clematis to grow all over an arch or a pergola, and in a very short amount of time. And with clematis, you can purchase so many different types that it's possible to have your pergola blooming with flowers of virtually any colour that you desire. Because clematis is a lightweight plant, it will also be easy for you to remove the plant from your pergola should you wish to try out a different climbing plant in the next season.

Climbing honeysuckle. There is a climbing version of the better known honeysuckle plant, which is ideal for complete coverage of a pergola. These thrive in the spring and summer months, blooming into flowers that have yellow, orange, and red flowers. You'll need to plant them around three to five feet apart at the base of your pergola, and cover them with mulch so that they stand the best chance of thriving. Then all you have to do is let the plants grow. Other benefits of honeysuckle are that the plant has a beautiful fragrance and it can also attract hummingbirds into your garden.

Wisteria. Wisteria is unmistakable because of both its dramatically elegant aesthetic, and because of its powerful fragrance.  When the wisteria vine blooms, you will have drooping lavender flowers trailing all of the way down your pergola. What's more, wisteria is very easy to grow so anybody can have a go at covering an outdoor arch with this plant. But although it is easy to grow, it can sometimes grow with a little too much ardour and it will need to be pruned regularly. Otherwise, it might just take over your whole garden.

Climbing roses. Roses are enduringly popular, and it's with good reason. They can be bought in all kinds of colours, they are dramatic looking, they smell beautiful, and of course, they are a symbol of love and romance. So what could be more perfect for your outdoor structure than covering it in climbing roses? What's also great about roses is that while other plants require copious amounts of sunlight to be able to grow and blossom fully, there are some rose species that can thrive well in the shade. If your pergola experiences some shade, then try the Souvenir du Dr Jamain roses, which have a rich burgundy colour, or Climbing Iceberg, which has crisp white flowers.

Trumpet vines. Many vines have bursts of colours during the blooming period, but the blooming time of the trumpet vine is far more extensive than most climbing plants. In fact, you can expect to see its vibrant red, orange, and yellow flowers from the early summer right up until the first frost of winter. Like honeysuckle, hummingbirds go crazy for trumpet vines, and encouraging this flower to grow over your pergola is a great way of inviting birdlife into your garden.