Do you have a balcony that’s looking a bit of sparse? No problem! There are beautiful vine trellis plants that can add colour, scent, and overall beauty to your space. Read on to discover 10 gorgeous varieties you can incorporate.
Why Vine Trellis Plants?
Using every bit of the space you have is especially important when you’re a balcony gardener. I think this is a rule that we all know, but one that might take us multiple tries to get right. I’ve been in my place for 2 years and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m still learning how to make the best use of the space available to me.
The nice thing about gardening is that if you aren’t happy with the results from one season, or wish you’d done something different, you have endless opportunities to do so. As long as you’re flexible and willing to make changes, you’ll succeed.
So, if you’re looking around at your small space and wondering how you can make the best of what you’ve got, why not grow up? Literally. Plants that climb vertically are a wonderful way to add another dimension to your space. They’re also a lot nicer to look at than the bare walls that you’ve been previously staring at.
Benefits of Vertical Gardening
Climbing plants don’t just make great use of your space. They can be used to provide shelter for a windy high-rise balcony, or shade an overheated west-facing one. Wind and excess heat can be detrimental to many plants that you may wish to grow, especially during a storm or hot spell. They can also make merely spending time in your precious slice of the outdoors difficult and unpleasant.
If I’ve piqued your interest but you need some ideas to help get you started; read on for an overview of 10 great options that will really change the dynamic of your garden.
Ivy is probably one of the most well-known vining plants in existence. It is easy to care for and for those with a shady balcony, you’re in luck! Ivy actually prefers to have less sun so this plant is a great choice for you. When choosing a container, go with something wider and shallow rather than tall and narrow. Even though this plant is hardy up to zone 4, it’s important to note that its roots are susceptible to freezing when planted in a container. Give your ivy the best chance to do well by planting it in as big a container as possible.
2. Morning Glory
A personal favourite of mine, Morning Glory’s are an old fashioned flower that are extremely easy to grow. If eight year old me could do it, I’m more than confident that you can too. Despite their name, Morning Glory will grow just fine if you have more afternoon sun instead of morning, but it does need a good dose of sun to keep it happy. These guys grow quickly and fill in with foliage and large colourful flowers that would make a lovely privacy screen. They are classified as an annual, but their quick growth means it’s no hassle to start fresh each year.
3. Scarlet Runner Beans
As well as adding a lovely pop of colour to any space, scarlet runner beans are extremely versatile as a vegetable. You can pick them when immature and eat them like Lima beans, or you can wait until fall to eat like other beans. These guys prefer the soil to be warmer, but don’t worry; they grow so quickly that you can start them later in the season and still have a great crop. Scarlet runners prefer lots of sun and plenty of water. As an added bonus, they are a favourite of hummingbirds.
4. Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas are delicious vine trellis plants for any balcony garden. I love being able to walk out and pluck fresh flavourful pods right off the vine for a snack. They like cooler weather, so getting them going as soon as the danger of frost has ended is really important.
Depending on what type of variety you buy, you can expect your plants to reach heights of either 2-3 feet for bush varieties, or as much as 6-8 feet for vine. The seeds can be hard to start, so soak them for at least 12 hours before planting. This can increase your chances of successful germination greatly.
5. Vine Tomatoes
Tomatoes have always been a winning choice for small spaces and balconies. One of the easiest types to grow in containers is vining types, like cherry tomatoes. Make sure that you choose a container of at least 1.5 gallons and that your tomatoes receive lots of sun.
I used to live on a west-facing fully glass balcony, and while my other plants struggled, my tomatoes thrived. Just make sure your plants are situated in well-watered, well-draining, slightly acidic soil, and you’ll be well rewarded.
This is another vegetable that produces tasty snacks as well as a good amount of shade if given a good sturdy trellis. When planting in containers, make sure you choose a large pot, and that you select a compact cucumber variety.
Quite simply, compact varieties will be easier to maintain in your smaller space. These plants also require a huge amount of water to grow, so a large pot is essential to a successful harvest. They’ll also require a large amount of sunshine, so they’re not a great choice for shady spaces.
7. Climbing Roses
A traditional and rewarding choice both visually and aromatically; roses can be difficult to grow, but they are worth it. Some people advice against growing roses in containers but if you are willing to put in the work, you can make it work. Perhaps most importantly, you should select a deep pot to accommodate their deep fibrous roots. Typical climbing roses grow to an average of 12-15 feet tall whereas varieties built for container growing can reach an average of 6 feet tall. A good quality potting mix including perlite is also important for healthy roses.
8. Sweet Peas
If the challenges posed by roses feel like a bit too much for you, then sweet peas may be a gentler option for you. As with roses they supply lovely flowers and a really nice scent. They prefer to grow in a tall, narrow pot, so getting something that is a fair bit taller than it is wide will be beneficial to a productive plant.
You can sow several seeds per pot and the average plant can reach upwards of 8 feet. Knowing this, you can see how placing several of these pots side by side would create a really beautiful fragrant privacy or shade screen. If you’re a fan of cut flowers, you’ll be happy to know that the more you pick from the sweet pea vine, the more flowers will be produced. Training the vines up your trellis will also give you nice straight stems, perfect for a vase.
Clematis vine trellis plants produce wonderful flowers in just about any colour you could want or imagine. It takes a little more work to successfully grow this plant in containers, but if you’re committed, the payoff is quite lovely.
As with many other plants, the bigger the container you can use, the better your plants will do. You’ll also need to keep a careful eye on the soil to make sure it doesn’t dry out, especially during really hot periods. Of equal importance clematis, don’t like to have “wet feet” so you shouldn’t over-water either. When choosing a plant or seeds, look for a variety that will grow to around 6 feet, as they’ll grow nicely in containers.
Wisteria will add a completely different type of visual element to your space. Instead of using a wide trellis, train wisteria up a single stake. Furthermore, buying a single stem plant is best when planting in containers. The stake you use to support the plant should be about 5 – 6 feet tall. Once the vine reaches the top, clip off the tip and it will branch out to form a ball type shape with lovely draping vines. Once your plant is mature, you’ll have a lovely aromatic area of shade to relax. Wisteria will want a good amount of sun and it doesn’t like to dry out.
Either Make it Last, or Switch it Up a Bit
If you live in a northern climate, some of these vine trellis plants may be over-wintered with careful planning and maintenance. If you don’t have the space for overwintering plants, however, don’t worry! Many of the plants listed are either annuals, or aggressive in their growth.
As a result, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all even if you have to start fresh at the beginning of each season. Just look at it as chance to try something new each year. And really, who doesn’t want an excuse to buy just one more plant?