Those living in the UK and similar temperate zones will have a huge choice of hardy and fast growing climber. Fast growing climbers is a regular request in my mailbox even in the depth of winter!
There is no lack of climber types in the fast growing category evergreen; flowering; winter or summer flowering and of course spring and autumn seasons. But, before diving in and buying, do take time to find out everything about the plant for our list of varieties.
Mile a Minute Vine is not just a selling name. It really does move itself to cover all available space sometimes to the annoyance of neighboring gardeners, and sometimes at the expense of an already weakened fence!
Good support is absolutely essential especially with the fast growing vines. To answer a recent mail enquiry - Fast growing climbers and evergreen at that, do not make good companions for a dainty trellis in you windy spot!
Gardeners often forget when talking of climbing plants, that there are many good annual climbers that grow fast as well as the traditional climbing vines and shrub climber. True an annual climber is over and done in one year not up to much in the winter.
But then gardening itself is not up to much in the winter either, if for a nearby trellis or pergola, then do not discount the annual climber which normally give many more flowers in the summer months. A combination of perennial or shrubby vines interlaced with a few in-fill annual climbers may be something to consider.
Fallopia baldschuanica (Polygonum) Russian Vine; Mile a Minute. Without doubt the fastest of the fast growing climbers for trellis, fence, pergola or anywhere else it can twine itself along, or up to the sky! Deciduous with non spectacular yellow foliage in autumn.
Campsis radicans Chilean Trumpet Vine is very fast, with plenty of summer flowers. It clings by its aerial roots along stem wherever it touches a firm support. Deciduous, with yellow foliage for autumn.
The large clusters of orange to scarlet trumpet flowers are one of the main attractions of this creeping vine, but the foliage is not to be ignored either even though deciduous. It has pinnate leaves, which sometimes leads to it being mistaken as a Wisteria when not in flower. But the outstanding characteristic other than the showy flowers and attractive foliage is its passion for growth and vigour. Ignore its rapid growth and you could end up with problems.
Campsis radicans is a fully hardy deciduous woody-stemmed climbing plant that will soon devour large areas of space especially if the space is sunlit! However, as a woodland plant it will also grow well, though flower will not be quite so plentiful as when grown in full sun, or at least having access to sun.
Clematis armandii The best of the evergreen clematis with the added appeal of being winter flowering and sweet scented at that. Evergreen with attractive dark green glossy leaves.
Clematis Armandii has foliage that is not only evergreen, but also quite attractive, and is worth growing just for that. However, throw in contrasting white flowers that have real scent and you soon see why this Clematis is so sought after.
Ah! Almost forgot to mention that it flowers in late winter or early spring as well! Anything that flowers in late winter is desirable, but if it is a hardy evergreen climbing plant as well, then it soon moves up the list of desirables!
Actinidia - The Chinese Gooseberry or Kiwi Fruit Vine. Attractive flowers on this fast climber which is well suited to pergola or long stout fence
Actinidia deliciosa the Chinese Gooseberry is a hardy climber which, in the right conditions, with the correct plants chosen, can also produce an edible crop of Kiwi fruit.
Fruit production should not however be the main reason for buying these vigorous climbing plants rather as an added attraction if you are lucky!
If you decide that you want to try for fruit, you will need both male and female plants for they bear male or female flowers on different plants (dioecious). Plants having both male and female flowers (monoecious ) are available, but are generally not the good performers that the single sex plants are!
Clematis montana types are amongst the quickest growing covering Clematis. Happy roaming atop a fence or trellis with good cover of foliage throughout summer and early summer masses of small Clematis blooms
Humulus lupulus Hops - Often overlooked as a garden plant and sometimes wrongly described as an annual. It is not an annual, but a herbaceous perennial which dies down for winter but soon starts rambling on again in spring. Very appealing golden foliage form is Humilus lupulus Aureus.
Solanum jasminoides - White Potato vine - More of a scrambling shrub - but ideal for getting up there quickly - semi evergreen with white flowers for much of summer. Solanum crispum 'Glesnevin' is the ,auve flowered option
A scrambling evergreen shrub - not quite a climber - that can be trained up a fence, wall, or over a pergola even. Very long flowering period - one flowering away now in December as I write this - and it started flowering in July! The white Solanum S. jasminoides Album flowers for a longer period than the more popular blue version - Solanum crispum Glasnevin. They will both will grow in virtually any soil, and are quite happy in shade - especially if they can clamber up to the sun.
Once the Solanum plant gets established, it will turn into a very vigorous - but showy - evergreen wall or fence shrub. It is not the first choice if you want an evergreen wall shrub near a pathway, for it will regularly send out shoots of well over a meter long throughout the summer. It is far better grow where it has the space to do what it does best, which is as a fast growing climber - 'filling' its allotted space quickly and ornamentally.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia is the true Virginia Creeper - Fantastic if allowed to droop over a pergola or other horizontal support. Woody-stemmed and lush foliage turning all colours in autumn but for a short period Deciduous and grows with tendrils support
Virginia creepers are rapid climbing vines that adhere to wall or other surface by way of small sucker pads which are situated on the ends of the tendrils sprouting out from the stems. These tendrils are used in the initial stage to twine around supports in order to move the plant upwards to firmer permanent holding places.
They can grow up walls unaided, together with pergolas, fences and trees. The origins of the Virginia creepers are almost exclusively forests in parts of Asia, the Himalayas and areas of North America. It goes without saying then that Virginian creepers Parthenocissus can be planted in shade areas. But they are also happy on a sunny wall.
Parthenocissus tricuspidata is the Boston Ivy also having dazzling autumn foliage reds and purples. Grows and climbs with small sucker disks which will self-cling to a wall.
Honeysuckle or Lonicera. Evergreen and deciduous types available. Lonicera japonica Halleana being good evergreen (semi) with well scented creamy yellow flowers turning white with age! Lonicera periclymenum types being deciduous with L. p. Graham Thomas flowers being yellow after opening white, flowers for long periods; L. p. Belgica early Dutch and L. p. Serotina late Dutch both having red buds opening white.
Akebia quinata evergreen Chocolate Vine Chocolate on account of flower colour, for the rich fragrance is not just chocolate! Attractive foliage
Typically it has five-segmented palmate leaves hence Akebia quinata - and drooping clusters of chocolate coloured flowers which start to appear in spring. Each cluster or raceme of drooping flowers bear both male and female flowers in the same cluster, so fertilization is normally quite easy and prolific. The female flowers are generally at the base of the racemes with the males on top!
The flowers tend to be heavily scented with a spicy aroma, but the deep purple-brown flowers are not too showy, because of the deep colour and more attractive foliage.
The flowers are followed in ideal climate by drooping dark purple edible fruits of a plump bean-like appearance up to 4in (8-10cm) long. They do not taste of chocolate; it is the flower colour which is responsible for the common name of Chocolate Vine.
Vitis coignetiae is an amazing sight with its large heart shaped leaves turning all the fall colours imagined. Rich scarlet leaves; orange; golden yellow etc, etc.
Vitis coignetiae is a member of the grape family Vitaceae but does not have edible fruit. Instead, it is graced with spectacular heart-shaped leaves up to 12in long, though normally 8-10in. Its common name of Crimson Glory Vine is because of its stunning autumn colour with shades of gold, orange and deepest red.
The vine originated in several parts of Asia including the snowed mountainous areas of Japan. There have been unsuccessful attempts at producing a reasonable wine from the sparse berries
Vitis vinifera Purpurea The purple grape really is a fruit bearing copper foliaged grape. Later in autumn the non-palatable (!) clusters of near-black grapes contrasting well with the foliage and lasting until birds fancy after foliage drops.
Pyracantha Firethorn. NOT a true climber but can be grown as a wall, trellis or pergola shrub. It will also make a spectacular arch if two are planted. Can be reasonably described as evergreen fast growing climbers for screening.
Lathyrus grandiflorus or Lathyrus latifolius both being herbaceous perennial everlasting sweet peas. 5 or 6 feet up to 2m is the norm each year before dying down for winter hibernation.
Passion Flower Passiflora caerulea is the most reliably hardy and evergreen but still needs protection in colder areas. Gets hardier with age.
Passion Fruit can grow to a height or length op up to 15 metres (45 feet). (10 metres seems to be the norm). The most spectacular I have seen, was growing up a narrow trellis to the first floor of a house, then trained horizontally along galvanized wire to a total length of well over 12 metres on a sunny wall which allowed the fruit to ripen and hang along the length like small oval lanterns. In the late summer is had bright orange egg-sized fruits against dark green glossy foliage.
Jasminum officinale Summer Jasmine hardly needs description, Well known for its gorgeous scent certainly one of the best scented fast climber. Non-evergreen as is the golden foliaged type Jasminum officinale Aureum
Thunbergia alata - Black-Eyed Susan: Evergreen perennial in tropical locations, but treat as annual in UK. (It will not thrive outdoor winters.) Orange-yellow flowers with black eyes. Black-eyed Susan will grow up to 2m in year. Not dense cover.
Nasturtium Tropaeolum Many varieties can be grown easily from seed sown in the open. Tropaeolum peregrinum is the famed Canary Creeper, up to 8ft in a year. Seed suppliers are pushing a wide range of dwarf Nasturtiums, so be aware of that before choosing your fast growing climber. The common ones will need a bit of support but can do it! Also suited for growing through shrubs and hedges,
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus. Normally grown from seed as an annual or bought in pots of seedling from garden centres in spring. Best started by seed in autumn, overwintered then planting in spring. Not winter hardy so will die off in first winter. Attain height of 2m plus. Legendary scented flowers that often get used indoors as cut flower
Ipomoea or Mina or Pharbitis -(Several types other than the standard dazzling Morning Glory with its striking light blue flowers: Ipomoea tricolor Heavenly Blue The Morning Glory; Ipomoea tricolor Flying Saucers is variable with light blue and white flashes; Ipomoea tricolor Crimson Rambler
Mina lobata Ipomoea lobata: Very unusual flowers; up to 8ft growth in year and always a talking point. Probably the most asked about plant when I am doing my plant photography bit.
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