Discover Climber Plants for Foliage
Climbing Plants for Foliage
These arewhich are grown primarily for the beauty and effectiveness of their foliage.
The most common foliage climber in Britain is the common ivy (Hedera which can be seen covering banks and climbing up trees wherever it is allowed. The cultivated forms are equally useful for the same purpose. Being hardy and vigorous, they will grow in the most difficult of situations, even in deep shade on dry soils.
Ivy climbs by means of sticky pads which adhere to walls and other plants, and this has led to the misconception that ivy kills trees and damages buildings. Where buildings are concerned, this is only true if the pointing and general fabric is in poor condition in the first place. And the only harm ivy will do to a tree is to provide extra wind resistance, which, if the tree has passed maturity can prove its final downfall. The pads are merely to help the plant climb, and don’t rob the host plant of any nourishment. In some cases ivy has even been shown to protect buildings and trees from clamp and decay.
Ivy benefits from being given quite a severe haircut every spring. Clipping back old leaves and any straggling shoots will stimulate it into producing masses of attractive new growth, and will also keep it tight back against either the wall or the host plant.
One final plea must be made on behalf of this much-maligned plant – it is a wonderful plant for wildlife. The leaves, being evergreen, provide marvellous winter quarters for a variety of bird and insect species. Theare also rich in nectar, and the berries that follow are a valuable food source.
Another valuable source of food and drink, but this time for humans, is the grape vine (Vitis spp.). Two varieties in particular provide decorative foliage and reasonable crops of fruit. Vitis ‘Brant’ produces black grapes in abundance -superb for wine making and not bad as a dessert fruit. Soft-green foliage throughout the summer turns a fiery scarlet with the approach of autumn before finally falling. V vinifera ‘Purpurea’ also produces black grapes – albeit not as large as V. ‘Brant’ – but as the foliage matures during the summer it turns a deep purple, lightening again in autumn. Both theserequire a sunny position to give of their best. They climb by means of tendrils, so some support will be necessary.
For golden foliage you can’t beat the golden hop (Humulus lupulus Aurea’). This plant attaches itself to its host plant by twisting its stems around it as it makes its way skywards. It can manage 20 ft (6 m) in a season before dying down to ground level each year. Whether in sun or partial shade, its bright-golden leaves are superb if allowed to ramble through other plants, or up and through small trees.