Does this plant exist?
March 25, 2021 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I want a climbing container plant to cover a wall about 6 feet high on my flagstone terrace, with these specific restrictions and preferences:

I am happy either with something that sticks to the wall itself like an ivy, or something that needs a lattice and a little help in terms of training/attaching it to said lattice, as long as I have a nice green background at the end of the day.

-Has to live happily in these long, narrow planter boxes against the base of the wall (each one is about 1.5 metre long by 18cm high by 15cm wide) that I have purchased- I'm trying to maximise 'floor space' for my patio furniture. They have drainage holes.

-Hardiness zone 9 (northern UK) BUT this is the east wall on a south-facing terrace which is protected on three sides so we can probably be flexible here. Half of the wall gets full sun from about 12pm until sundown, the other half gets about half that amount of sun due to the neighbour's weird tall shed.

-I don't mind if it's an annual that I have to replant every year, as long as it grows fast and gives me my greenery by mid-summer, but a perennial would be preferred.

-Someone else has suggested clematis, which i love, but every clematis I have had in the last five years has grown beautifully until mid-summer at which point it very suddenly drops dead from fungal disease. I can't deal with that disappointment again - plus I'm focused more on greenery than flowers here (though some flowers would be nice, too). Other plants than clematis generally do fine and I have a pretty green thumb.

What would you suggest plant friends?
posted by cilantro to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A passion flower might work. It does need something to climb up, but it grows fast, has attractive leaves, and impressive, if gaudy flowers. Ours has done pretty well on a south-eastern wall here in the Midlands.
posted by pipeski at 9:13 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]

Hops, morning glory and certain jasmines might fit the bill. Passion flower is a great suggestion too, but some varieties tend to be lighter on foliage.

Personally I like hope the most for green walls; they cope with a variety of shitty conditions pretty well as long as they’re watered well.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:34 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]

That's not a lot of space for roots, speaking generally, but look into hops (Humulus lupulus). Unlike clematis, it's going to grow fast and vigorously, with more flex and less fragility in the young stems. Beautiful green foliage and flower. It'll die back each year but tends to return from rootstock in the spring.

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) might be an option, bit it isn't going to get you there by midsummer and is increasingly viewed as an invasive.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:44 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

Personally I adore morning glory - it'll probably die back over winter in that zone but you say you don't mind that, and it might reseed. The standard Heavenly Blue flowers are just my favorite flowers ever, and the leaves are big and pretty.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:29 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

In my region, both morning glory and certain types of ivy are considered invasive. Do check with your locality for "invasive plant lists" or talk to your local plant nursery for suggestions. I'm kind of fond of star jasmine but it takes about 3 years to get established.
posted by matildaben at 12:06 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

I'm really, really looking forward to doing black-eyed susan vines and moonflower vines. But these are not perennial. I am going to start them indoors from seed, but it sound like they both grow very quickly.
posted by kitcat at 1:17 PM on March 25

If I wanted something non-floral that would grow and grow to cover a vertical area - and I only hesitate myself because it can be invasive - I would choose hops. You won't have an issue with the invasiveness because you are planting in containers.
posted by kitcat at 1:40 PM on March 25

Suggestions above are good, I'd add castor bean vines which are just stunning. They like more water than those containers will bear without assistance, but there are potting soils with moisture holding gizmos and also perlite, which is basically if volcanic rock were popcorn, and if you mix it into the soil it will hold moisture longer. To grow something that wants moisture in small boxes, you want to be conscious of the growing mix (ask someone at a local garden center. They'll likely be delighted with the interesting question. For example: you don't want sand or gravel.)

If you don't mind dumping half a gallon of water into those each morning, you could also just do that.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:28 PM on March 25

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - Hops sounds like a really cool idea (also I like beer so it will be neat to see how they grow). I really like the black eyed susan vines as well - these planters are very looong so maybe I can mix a few of those in.
posted by cilantro at 3:57 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

The hops will grow and grow and grow. If you want really good, thick coverage, give yourself a lattice or something to stick them to. Otherwise, they may run for the roof and take off. If you want to amuse yourself, take photos for proof... I swear the ones we had in Washington, I'd go water them in the morning, they'd be one place, I'd go out in the evening, and the darn things would be a foot longer.
posted by stormyteal at 4:10 PM on March 25

If you go hops, keep in mind that they have a rhizome root; it will keep growing and crowding itself each year. More shoots will appear year after year and you may need to dig the rhizomes up and trim them after a few years (and replant those cuttings for more hops!!).

Which I totally need to do this weekend. Thank you for reminding me!!!
posted by furnace.heart at 4:25 PM on March 25

I'm not super well-versed in outdoor plants, and I really know nothing about growing stuff in anything above Zone 3, but I think Dichondra "Silver Falls" might merit consideration.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:52 PM on March 25

I strongly recommend that you get/make some deeper planters. You will have less worry about the soil drying out, and the roots can grow deeper.
posted by amtho at 6:04 PM on March 25

you could try trailing nasturtiums, some varieties grow really fast and they're super easy to care for. They'll need some kind of structure to climb on.

Other super fast grower would be scarlet runner beans.
posted by PardonMyFrench at 8:54 AM on March 26

Akebia is an irritatingly good grower for me in a north-facing garden in the north of the UK- I keep having to stop it strangling the clematis it's next to. It has small purple flowers that smell of chocolate, but it's mostly foliage.
posted by Shark Hat at 1:25 PM on March 26

« Older Arm muscle pain from drawign on ipad/tablet?   |   What does it mean if I (32F) keep failing things? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments