There are some beautiful specimens of climbing plants available at your local garden center or DIY store. If you, like so many others, want to grow tall plants and vines but are stuck on a rental property and worry about any damage long, trailing plants could cause, you can rest easy. There’s an easy way to have climbing plants in your home, and you don't even have to plant them directly in the ground. Simple containers can often be the best spot for climbing plants. Imagine how beautiful it would be to have two planters on either side of your front door featuring a classic ivy or iconic climbing roses. You’ll get the spectacle of vertical gardening with much more versatility.

Finding the Right Containers

Knowing how to choose the right container for your garden comes down to two factors: size and depth. Consider the root system of the species you're planting, and ask yourself if you're working with a climbing plant that has roots that grow downward or a creeping plant with roots that tend to spread out in a wide berth. A lot of planters make the mistake of focusing solely on water drainage when setting up their container gardens, and while proper planter irrigation is important prevent the roots of your climbing plant from getting overly wet and rotting, so is picking the right size, shape, and depth.

Preparing Your Containers

Stacks of clay planting pots with drainage holes

So what happens if you find the perfect container but it doesn't have good drainage? Depending on what your planter's made of, you can just add some drainage holes yourself. Plastic is easiest material to create drainage with using a power drill or even just a hammer and nails. Ceramic planters are a bit tricker, but drainage can be added carefully using either a masonry bit for ceramic pots that are unglazed or a glass/tile bit for glazed ceramic containers. The key here is to take your time, as rushing could result in damage to your planter. Still, these homemade holes can provide just as much drainage for your climbing plants as an expensive planter manufactured to look like Swiss cheese can.

Even if your container already has adequate drainage holes, you can give your climbers a leg up by adding a layer of rocks and some sand to the very bottom. Then, follow up with the growing media that you’re planning on using. Some climbing plants do better with these amendments to the soil, so tailor your enhancements to fit the needs of your climbing or hanging plant.

Climbing Plants vs. Hanging Plants

Suspended basket with vines and leaves hanging over edges

Containers should also be sturdy enough to support the upward weight of their climbing plants as they grow. Some planters may tip as your plant gets taller and more substantial. For instance, Chinese Wisteria is an amazingly beautiful plant and can spice up any area, but it’s also surprisingly heavy, and the larger it grows, the more strain will be put on your container. You should look for a container that has room for an added support system, or even one that’s got a built-in trellis in place.

Alternatively, you can transform your climbing plants into hanging plants by suspending your containers and skipping the trellis. Virginia creeper, for example, is a fast growing vine that can quickly climb a trellis and reach for the skies or beautifully spill out of a hanging planter with cascading blooms.

Planting Your Containers

As with any planting, you’ve got the choice of either starting your own seeds or buying an established seedling from a garden center. Several climbing plants are easy to start from seeds, such as morning glories, black-eyed Susans, and moonflowers. Plus, it can be fun to start entirely from scratch and see what you’re able to nurture. One helpful trick to prep your seeds before planting is to knick the seed coat lightly and wrap the seed in a damp paper towel to make it sprout faster. The sooner you have that healthy sprout, the sooner you can place it into your prepared container.

Not all plants are simple to start from seeds (roses, we’re looking at you), and there’s nothing wrong with getting instant gratification from a seedling planted in a container for fast curb appeal. Grow smart, not hard.

Climbing Plants That Work Well in Containers

Red Virginia Creeper leaves in front of a gray wall

Putting climbers and creepers in planters is not everyone's first instinct, as again, climbing plants are typically vines that wrap around trellises and crawl up walls. So if you are going to choose containers, make sure you choose a climber that will thrive in that setting. Some possibilities include sweet peas, morning glories, ivy bougainvillea, climbing hydrangea, passion flower, Virginia creeper, climbing roses, clematis, trumpet vine, honeysuckle, common jasmine, grapes, wisteria, and canary creeper. This list is just a short selection of potential plants to use in your container. Don’t be shy when you go to pick out your plants at the garden center. Talk to the staff to get their recommendations if you’re not finding one you like. They'll be able to steer you away from the plants that won't do well in containers.

Maintaining Your Planters

Climbing plants in pots supported by trellis

It’s time to start changing your landscape with some lovely climbing plants in containers around your home and garden. As each plant is unique, you’ll want to make sure you're giving them all proper care as the begin to grow taller over time. For instance, any plant in a container will dry out quicker than those planted in the soil. If you've suspended any of your planters, a good way to check the moisture levels in them is to try and lift them a bit with your palm. A damp and heavy feel means that there's a good amount of water in your soil, but lightweight or chalky-feeling soil means that it may be time to water. Before long, your climbing plants will be the envy of all your neighbors.