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.
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.
Actinidia - The Chinese Gooseberry or Kiwi Fruit Vine. Attractive flowers on this fast climber which is well suited to pergola or long stout fence
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
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
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
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 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.
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.