There are very few gardens—even those on roof terraces and in city courtyards—that cannot accommodate at least one climber in a large pot. They are an excellent solution for an awkward spot, such as a gap in a border or a bare area of paving. Their pliable structure can be manipulated to grow horizontally as well as vertically. But, they also can appear intimidating to maintain and grow. Follow these five tips to keep your climbers content.
1. With regular watering and feeding, carefully chosen climbers will do perfectly well and can grow surprisingly large. Slow-release fertilizer is good for long-term container planting.
2. A mulch of grit or gravel will deter slugs and help retain moisture.
3. Wherever possible, container-grown climbers should be repotted once a year. For plants that are already in large pots, or those located where repotting would be difficult, replace the top layer of potting medium with fresh planting mix. Loam-based mixes are heavier than most other composts and are more satisfactory for climbers that may become top-heavy.
4. Never allow containers to dry out. Apart from depriving the plant, dry medium will make the pot light and unstable.
5. Climbers grown in pots must be well supported. Trellis and wires will serve a container at the foot of a wall. For freestanding pots, choose a sheltered position and use bamboo canes (tied together in wigwam-style) or purpose-made pyramids or obelisks. Tendril climbers may prefer tall twiggy sticks or long willow stems, which can be bent and woven into simple shapes and designs.
Adapted from the Horticulture Gardener's Guide to Plants for Small Spaces by Clive Lane. Learn more about this book.