Akebia quinata

How to plant climbers

Cover fences, walls and trellises by planting beautiful climbers – our climber planting guide shows you how.

Do it:

Sep, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

20 minutes

Climbing plants like jasmine, clematis, honeysuckle and chocolate vine are fabulous for covering walls, fences, pergolas and arches.

Discover 10 climbers to grow.

Planting a climber is similar to planting any other plant, but with two key considerations. Firstly, bear in mind that climbers often have to cope with poor soil at the base of walls and fences, as well as cramped roots and water scarcity - planting by a wall or fence can create a 'rain shadow', which means that rain does not reach plants' roots. Be sure to prepare the soil well, and plant the climber well away from the base of its supporting structure - between 30cm and 45cm is ideal.

Secondly, bear in mind that supports for the climber will need to be put in place before you plant your climber. Read our advice on training climbers.

Need more inspiration? Take a look at seven climbing plant combinations.

Discover how to plant climbers in our simple step-by-step guide. 

You will need

  • Plant support
  • Spade
  • Organic matter
  • Topsoil
  • Slow-release fertiliser 

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Make sure your plant support, be it trellis, a fence or wires on a wall, is in good condition, and dig plenty of organic matter into the planting area – down to two spades’ depth if possible. If the bed is small and the soil poor, remove some of the soil and replace it with good topsoil mixed with organic matter and planting fertiliser.
Water the climber and remove it from its pot. Carefully tease the roots away from the rootball – this will encourage them to venture off into the newly conditioned soil.
Dig a planting hole a little distance from the wall or fence to avoid the very driest spot – at least 30cm out, preferably 45cm. While most climbers should be planted with the top of the rootball at soil level, clematis benefit from being planted 10-15cm deeper. Climbing roses should have the knobbly graft union at soil level.
Give your climber plenty of premium treatment during soil preparation and planting.
Water in well, then untie the plant stems and spread them out evenly, leaning the stems in to their new support and tying in securely. For self-clinging climbers, put in short canes to bridge the gap between the plant and the support. Next year, growth is likely to be rapid and the plant will benefit from regular training and tying in so its stems don’t become tangled. Water during dry spells throughout the first growing season.

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Watering can
Keep plants well watered after planting – always water before they show signs of stress.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Climbers for a shady wall or fence

How to choose plants for a west-facing wall

How to take clematis cuttings

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