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Climbing Plants--Five Types Of Climbers To Know
Whether you are an aspiring gardener or a regular green thumb, it's important that you are well versed in the area of climbers. Climbing plants can be a gardener's best friend, especially if you're cramped for space. After all, why grow out when you can grow up? But knowing what types of climbers are out there and what support they need may require a little more thought. There are five primary ways that plants climb up a structure: tendrils, twining, scrambling, adhesive pads, and clinging stem roots. The following article will help you get acquainted with each type of climber and understand a little more about how and where they grow.
Tendrils are tiny, spring-like growths that extend out from a plant's stem. In fact, tendrils are almost like small stems of their own, expect that they are much finer and more pliable than the plant's main stem. A tendril reaches out and grabs on to the supporting structure by curling and winding around it. Peas are a climber that utilizes tendrils in its upward growth. Climbing vines with tendrils will do best when they are given a narrow support to climb, preferably a diameter no greater than 1/4". Simple trellises made of narrow strips of bamboo or other thin branches work quite well. Or, consider making your own trellis by constructing a frame and then using large mesh or netting inside it.
Twining climbers such as morning glory and clematis use their own leaves and stems to reach out and "grab" onto a supporting structure. Twining plants, depending on the species, will consistently twine in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Some twiners will wrap around their supporting structures loosely; others wrap very tightly. Beware of tightly twining plants, as they can literally choke the life out of any other living plants around them. Also keep in mind that some twiners can grow quite large and heavy, and it's important to provide them with sufficient support. Wisteria, for example, is a twining climber than is known for collapsing structures like porches and decks.
Scrambling climbers are actually unable to grow up a structure on their own. They often times have stiff branches or thorns that they may use to prop themselves up on another plant or structure. Roses and raspberries are examples of scrambling plants. If you want a scrambler to climb a trellis or pergola, you will probably have to assist the plant by tacking or tying it to the structure. Take care, though, that you don't tie the branches too tightly, or you could choke the plant to death. Look for a trellis or pergola that has special training clips designed for this purpose.
Adhesive pad climbers can be both pervasive and invasive. Have you ever wondered how Boston ivy can climb up the face of a brick wall? Well, Boston ivy is an example of an adhesive pad climber that uses small, sticky tendrils to adhere onto almost any surface. When an adhesive pad climber comes up to an obstacle, they can just as easily climb sideways. Be careful about planting an adhesive pad climber near a building, as these plants have been known to cause damage to brick mortar and other siding materials.
Clinging Stem Roots:
Climbers that use clinging stem roots to grow include climbing hydrangea and English ivy. These climbers actually produce small sticky roots that grow directly out from the stem. These sticky roots will cling to virtually any surface, smooth or porous. Clinging stems can be just as damaging to buildings as adhesive pads, so be careful where you plant these vines. Clinging stem root climbers should also be trimmed back regularly. They will rapidly grow out of control when left unchecked!
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