Balcony Container Gardening Design: Using Climbing Plants

Because balcony container gardens have such a small footprint of space, you can use climbing container plants to add more interest to the garden, rather than having many small plant containers covering the floor without as much foliage. Climbing plants will help cover ugly walls or views, and will also allow you to use more of your balcony garden’s floor space for seating or dining outside.


Some climbing plants also are eligible as windbreaks, which will keep other container plants safe from strong winds (which are common on urban balcony gardens high off the ground or between buildings) and will make for a more comfortable seating area during windy days. Griselina is a good year-round windbreaking climbing plant, and other container plants that die back in winter work for apartment gardeners who want more light to permeate during darker winter months.

You can grow climbing plants three ways:

Hedera helix English ivy wall

1. Allow ivy to grow up a barren, ugly wall (they have sucker pads that will stick to walls and trellises).


Jasmine flower garden

2. Attach fishing line or durable string from the balcony railing to the roof and grow a climber that will provide dappled shade (you can intersperse white Christmas lights on these lines if there is an electricity outlet outside). You can create a privacy wall in the same way.


Clematis on trellis

3. Grow climbing plants up a trellis placed into a plant container to create a living plant wall (this will help block unwanted views, wind or noise). Securely attach the trellis to a wall or railing so it does not blow over on windy days.

Ivy plants have sucker pads that will stick to walls and trellises, and other climbing plants, such as morning glory flowers, will automatically wrap around a trellis. Even if a container plant will grow up a wall or trellis on its own, you will always get the most attractive planting if you train the plant to grow the way you want (and some plants absolutely need to be trained). To train a plant to grow up a trellis, make sure that the plant’s container is heavy enough and will not be knocked over (you can also secure the trellis to the wall with nails). When planting, spread the plant’s climbing stems evenly over the trellis and tie them in place with plastic ties or string (not too tightly!). As the plant grows, it will become more full. Check your climbing plant often so you can trim or tie any rogue shoots to the trellis. See how you can make a DIY bamboo trellis here>>

If you choose large enough containers or have room to place more plant containers in front of the climbers, you can grow annuals there. Also plant flowering climbers, such as morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) or Clematis, that will flower and add splashes of color to the balcony container garden every spring.

10 Climbers for Pots
1. Griselinia species
2. Hedera species
3. Lonicera periclymenum
4. Lonicera hildebrandiana
5. Actinidia kolomikta
6. Eccremocarpus scaber
7. Vitis coignetiae
8. Vitis vinifera (actually produces grapes)
9. Parthenocissus tricuspidata
10. Clematis montana

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