Perennial Climbers for the Garden and Balcony

When it comes to perennial climbers, most people think of ivy and wild grapevine, while garden enthusiasts may also think of blue vine and clematis. However, in addition to these main species, there are many other scaffold climbers and self-climbers that delight with their variety of colors and shapes, especially in summer. And some representatives impress not only with their decorative growth and flowering – they also entice with tasty fruits.

Perennial Climbers for the Garden and Balcony

An arbor with perennial climbers


Climbing perennials conquer the third dimension in a special way and can achieve a great effect with a small footprint. That’s what makes them so interesting for use in small gardens, on balconies and wherever a living ornament is desired. Depending on the intended use, you can plant hardy, woody species or grow annual climbers from seed, such as black-eyed Susanne.

If the space in the garden allows it, it is worth creating an arbor, creating almost paradisiacal conditions. Here it sits wonderfully cozy – well protected from the sun, wind and prying eyes. The light construction with wooden or metal lattices on the sides is only too gladly surrounded by a fragrant honeysuckle or an abundantly blooming clematis. Romantic rambler roses are also predestined for greenery thanks to their long, flexible shoots and numerous flower clusters.

For a fruit pergola: kiwi & Co.


The pergola entwined with vines was already very popular in ancient times – in addition to a shady spot, it also offers a variety of juicy-sweet grapes. This brings you pretty close to a land of milk and honey fantasy, as the fruit grows tantalizingly close – almost into your mouth, as it were. If you like it a bit more exotic, you can also plant other climbing fruit species, for example the popular mini kiwi.

Delicious climbers: It’s good to snack on these plants

  1. Mini kiwi (Actinidia arguta) ‘Julia’, ‘Ken’s Red’, ‘Weiki’, ‘Issai’. Most often a pollinator is needed, for example, ‘Romeo’.
  2. Japanese grape (Rubus phoenicolasius)
  3. Chinese cleavers (Schisandra chinensis)
  4. Vines, for example, the varieties ‘Vanessa’, ‘Muscat Bleu’, ‘Liwia’.
  5. For facades and pergolas: The pipevine


Decorative sky scrapers come in all shapes and sizes. Pipevine is one of the most beautiful hardy climbers for facades and pergolas. It forms dense foliage walls of ornamental beauty with large, roof-tile-like overlapping leaves and continues to grow in a trailing overhanging manner.

Unlike the mighty blue vine, pipevine can be easily placed next to the rain pipe. It has amazingly tender shoots that pose no danger to the objects they wrap. If there is a downer, it is the following: Aristolochia macrophylla has large leaves, and therefore requires a lot of water to look immaculate throughout the season.

A balcony with perennial climbers


Clematis are charming climbing plants that also cut a fine figure on the balcony or terrace. Their leaf stems twine around both vertical and horizontal climbing supports. Not all species are equally suitable: Relatively weak-growing and therefore suitable for balconies are most large-flowered hybrids, for example the variety ‘Nelly Moser’. There are also many cultivars of Clematis viticella (Italian Wood Vine) that thrive in a planter while remaining rather compact.

The vigorous honeysuckle can also be planted on a balcony, provided it receives protection from the blazing midday sun. The variety ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ (Lonicera brownii) is profusely flowering and remains comparatively small. Romantic mini climbing roses also do well in containers, such as Tantau’s Starlet® roses.

If you love an exotic ambience, the Blue Passionflower is just right. Its unusual blossoms are a feast for the eyes until autumn, but unfortunately it is not completely winter-hardy. If the climbing aid is directly on the pot, you can easily overwinter the plant indoors without pruning.

Tip: For all climbers on the balcony, choose a planter that holds at least 20 liters and use a high-quality container plant soil. A pot with a climbing frame provides a large attack surface for winds – so secure it sufficiently from falling over.

Proven climbing plants at a glance

botanical nameFeatures
Evergreen honeysuckle (Lonicera henryi)beautiful flowers from VI, also for shady places
Blue passion flower (Passiflora caerulea)Exceptional flowers, perennial bloomer, wintering in the garden only in mild regions.
Ivy (Hedera helix)evergreen foliage decoration, black fruits
Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla)deciduous foliage, discreet flowering
Five-lobed wild vine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)intense autumn color, ornamental fruits
Chinese Blue Vine (Wisteria sinensis/floribunda)blue, pink or white flower clusters from V
Woodland vines (e.g. Clematis montana/tangutica/texensis)Flower bells/stars from IV to X depending on species
Climbing roses (rambler roses)rich flowering from VI
Trumpet flower (Campsis radicans)Flower trumpets in red or yellow from VII
Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)Winter bloomers in yellow from XII to III
Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)White flowering also for full shade from VI
True wine (Vitis vinifera)delicious grapes from IX
Ray Pencil, Kiwi (Actinidia arguta)small, sweet and sour fruits from IX

The right climbing aid


Whether trellis and wire systems should have more horizontal, vertical or even diagonal struts depends on the particular climbing plant or its type of climbing. The so-called scaffold climbers (climbers, climbers and splay climbers) necessarily need a structure to which they can cling, self-climbers, on the contrary, can directly cover walls and facades. From galvanized wire from the hardware store to stainless steel rope systems from the professional scene, there is a suitable technical solution for every type of facade greening.

Most climbing plants also require suitable support on the balcony. A scaffold on the house wall, a trellis on flower boxes or trellises from the trade provide a stable hold for hardy species.

Special requirements apply to very strong-growing climbers, such as the representative blue vine, the tree shrike and even more so the climbing knotweed. In this case, a strong substructure is essential.

Incidentally, structural damage is hardly to be feared on intact facades. The trick, however, is to correctly assess the size of the facade and the vigor of the favored climbing plant.

The growth characteristics of climbing plants

Self-climbers such as ivy, for example, hold on to the substrate independently with adhesive roots or adhesive discs. However, they do not find sufficient hold on water-repellent plasters and very smooth surfaces. They then need a climbing aid.

Climbers develop special gripping organs with the help of which they attach themselves to tension wires or trellises. Some species develop shoot tendrils (true vine), while others hold on with petiole tendrils (woodland vine). The supports may be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.

Climbers such as honeysuckle, blue vine, pipevine, kiwi, or creeping knotweed climb by twining their shoots. They depend on rather thin, vertical climbing aids; a few cross braces as “slip protection” are useful.

Spreading climbers, for example climbing roses, climb upwards with spiny or long, sparse shoots. They have no special adhesive organs such as adhesive roots or petiole tendrils. The hold is created by the relatively stiff shoots splaying against the climbing aid. They require horizontally running scaffolds.

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