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  • Who does not dream about garlands of flowers? Climbing plants can offer this sometimes in overwhelming abundance. All you need is to be patient for the first few years: you will not regret it !

    Before planting...
    Firstly, check that the climbing plant has a support that is suitable for its needs. Climbing plants in reality consist of many different varieties of plant. Some attach themselves to walls like the climbing Hydrangea vine (Schizophragma), whilst others need a support that they can cling onto. This second category contains the most plants; amongst these, we find the Wisteria, Jasmine, Honeysuckle and Clematis... Therefore choose the right support: it is better that it has a nice shape as this will guide the climber and it will also be visible in winter. It can be a simple taut wire along a wall or a structure made out of wood or iron, a wooden or wire fence etc. In all cases, the support must be solid because it will not only need to support the weight of the plant but also withstand the wind.

    At planting time
    Dig the soil deeply because climbing plants have roots that tend to go downwards rather than spread out. They like moist soil, meaning never completely dry even in the middle of the summer. The branches however need light with a few rare exceptions. The ideal situation is a soil that is not too dry but bathed in light. It is often said that climbing plants like to have their head in the sun and their feet in the shade. If the soil has a tendency to dry out then consider using a mulch or ground covering plants, these vivacious plants will spread out in low-lying clumps. Improve the soil in the planting hole with some well-rotted manure or compost because these climbers are very greedy. Do not bother untangling the roots too much as they do not like to be disturbed. Initially you will need to guide the shoots so that they can cling on to the support. Remember to water the plants during dry periods.

    Looking after them
    Climbing plants are among the most autonomous of plants. However, it is a good idea to prune the more vigorous species such as Wisteria and Trumpet vine. This will encourage them to form flower buds rather than leaves. Wisteria may sometimes refuse to flower during the first few years: they will always end up flowering but some pruning with the secateurs may well speed things up! Also, prune climbing plants that become too big or cumbersome. The best period is towards the end of winter for those with thick stems or just after flowering for those with fine stems.
    A little additional fertilizer is also beneficial especially in poor soils. At the same time remember to feed those that are planted against the house where the soil is likely to contain a lot of rubble.
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  • Climbing plants
    Climbing plants
    Looking after them
    Author: Jean-Michel Groult

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