Growing climbers in containers is a great way of maximising limited space in a garden. The container can be placed alongside the house wall with the climbing plant trained up and along the wall.  

They’re also a great choice for any size of garden with a patio or balcony where it’s not possible to plant directly into the soil. In addition, they soften hard lines of the paving, as well as adding colour and, in some cases, scent.

However, some climbers are better suited to growing in containers than others.

You might be tempted to grow a climbing rose in a pot, which is possible, but do remember that roses not only need a lot of moisture in the soil, but they also develop long tap roots. So, ideally they would need to be grown in tall containers wide enough to hold a good amount of compost and be stable in high winds.

The following are examples of climbers that are easy to grow and care for in containers, all of which should be filled with filled with a free-draining, moisture-retentive, multi-purpose compost to get the best results.

Climbing clematis in containers

Clematis are an excellent choice for growing in containers and best grown in terracotta or ceramic pots as they don’t heat up as much as plastic containers during the summer months. They also give more root protection during the winter.

The minimum pot size should be 45cm by 45cm and have good drainage holes. The container should be raised off the ground slightly as, although clematis like their roots shaded, they don’t do well if the roots are too wet during the autumn and winter months.

Shorter growing 

The great news is that here are now varieties available that only grow to between 90 – 120cm, making them ideal for small containers in any small space. So, you can have a charming clematis on a balcony or patio.

They also flower from late spring right the way up until early autumn. What’s more there are varieties to suit all aspects; sun, part-shade and shade.

Full sun

The flowers of some varieties of clematis lose their colour in full sun but both these examples below will keep their vibrant colours and so are great choices for a sunny location.

‘Fleuri’ is a great example and produces deep purple, velvety flowers.

Alternatively, if you prefer a semi-double or double flowering short variety then ‘Chevalier’ is an excellent choice as this will produce both fully double and semi-double flowers on the same plant. The flowers are a wonderful dark purple-blue colour.

Partial shade

‘Parisienne is an amazing variety that flowers more or less nonstop from spring right up until autumn. It has large, star-shaped flowers that are pale, violet-blue, with red anthers in the middle.

Shade

The paler colours of pinks, lavender and pale blues work well in shadier part of the garden.  The beautiful ‘The Countess of Wessex’  has white flowers and each petal has a faint splash of pale pink to its centre.

Taller growing

There are taller growing varieties available suitable for growing in a container and these will reach around 1.8m tall whilst producing lots of flowers during the growing season. These varieties look great on a patio.

‘Rebecca’ is a stunning example producing huge red flowers at least 15cm in diameter. It will flower from late spring right up to early autumn and is sure to be admired by all.

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Honeysuckle at a height

Although many climbing Lonicera (honeysuckle) are rampant growers, there are shorter growing, less rampant varieties available.

These climbers are easy to grow in containers with many varieties producing sweetly scented flowers during the summer months. These flowers are particularly attractive to insects such as butterflies and bees. So, if you’d like to attract those types of wildlife to your garden, honeysuckle is a must-have plant for your container.

Like clematis, they prefer to have their roots shaded and their tops in full sun and should ideally be grown in a container with a diameter of 50cm and depth of 70cm.

If you only have a small space or container, then avoid the fast-growing varieties with twining stems.

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Short growing

A particularly small variety of honeysuckle to grow in containers is ‘Celestial’. With flowers from July to September, this hardy variety has a fantastic scent.

Most climbing honeysuckles are deciduous but some, like ‘Goldflame’ are evergreen. Growing up to 5m in height, the delightfully scented flowers put on a show through summer. The flowers are very popular with pollinators and are followed by red berries.

Tall growing

If you do have the space for a large container and would like a taller, faster growing variety do think carefully about where you position the container. Ensure you put up a strong support for the stems or wires to train the stems along.

Lonicera japonica will delight with its white-gold, scented flowers during the summer months. Come autumn, the flowers are followed by black berries, which the birds will appreciate.  Then, the leaves turn a lovely shade of bronze before falling in the autumn.

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Passionflower in pots

If you have a sheltered sunny wall and want an exotic looking climber then the hardy, evergreen, passionflower, Passiflora caerulea, is the perfect choice. It produces numerous white and purple flowers throughout the summer months.

It is rampant and so would need to be given ample support and wires to train the stems along. Finally, remember to keep it well-watered during the summer months and you should be rewarded with a beautiful looking, long-flowering container climber.

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Whether you want to add a new dimension to your patio or are short on floor space so want a versatile climber, these climbers for containers will have you covered.

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