CLIMBING PLANTS FOR AUTUMN COLOUR

Climbing plants for autumn colour



If you are looking for climbing plants to produce a glorious, although limited rainbow of autumn colour (mainly red and orange and yellow) then there are few examples better than the popular Parthenocissus genus, most notably the Russian vine and Virginia creeper.

However while these two species are arguably the 'Kings of Autumn Colour' (or Kind and Queen, it's not important) there are a couple of pretenders to the throne who are well worth considering. So see below for my top climbing plants for autumn colour:

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Commonly known as the 'Virgin ivy' or 'Virginia creeper', Parthenocissus quinquefolia is a deciduous climbing plant native to the south west of Central America.

It is a prolific climber, able to reach heights of between 20–30 m in the wild. It secures itself to its chosen surface using small forked tendrils tipped with small strongly adhesive pads.

It is suitable for both full sun or shade in sheltered or exposed conditions. Parthenocissus quinquefolia will thrive in any fertile, well-drained soil.

Hydrangea petiolaris

Hydrangea petiolaris
Native to the woodlands of Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East, Hydrangea petiolaris is a vigorous woody climbing vine plant which fixes to its support by means of small aerial roots on the stems.

 It can be particularly effective when grown against brick or stone walls or fencing where it can easily attach to the surface.

It is best grown in rich, fertile, moist but well-drained soils, but unlike many other climbing plants is prefers to be grown in part shade to full shade.

Vitis coignetiae

Vitis coignetiae
Commonly known as the 'Glory vine', Vitis coignetiae first came to the attention of English gardeners in 1883 and is to native to the temperate climates of Asia. The species name is in honour Mr. and Mrs. Coignet who reportedly brought seeds back from their trip to Japan in 1875.

It is a very vigorous specimen with purple shoots and mid-green leaves.

 Vitis coignetiae is ideal for sun or partial shade in a well-drained soil, especially in a neutral or alkaline soils.

Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Commonly known as the Boston Ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata is a deciduous woody vine which under favourable conditions can grow up to 30 metres in height.

Native to Japan, Korea, and China,  the foliage can vary in shape on the same plant from deeply toothed, three-lobed leaves, to three separate leaflets

It will grow well in full sun to partial shade, however to achieve the best autumn colour, site Parthenocissus tricuspidata in partial shade or full shade. It will thrive in any fertile, well-drained soil.

For related articles click on to the following links:
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR FOLIAGE COLOUR EFFECT
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR SHADED WALLS AND FENCES

CLIMBING PLANTS FOR FOLIAGE COLOUR EFFECT

Climbing plants for foliage colour effect

Climbing plants can make for a fantastic addition in any garden, and there are plenty of exotic, flowering species to choose from. However, no matter how gorgeous the flowers are, the blooms are often short lived leaving only the foliage to provide ornamental effect for the rest of the year.

Like the majority of garden plants available, most climbers produce regular green leaves which will often fade to the background amongst the rest of the specimen plants. However, appropriate foliage colour can provide a far longer effect and with a little though and design can enhance the plants in front of them.

In no particular order, check out my choice of top 8 (10 was a bit of a stretch) and sometimes award-winning ornamental foliage climbing plants.

Hedera helix 'Buttercup'

Hedera helix 'Buttercup'
Hedera helix 'Buttercup' is arguably the most eye-catching of all the ornamental ivy cultivars. It is a selective cultivar of our native ivy and was introduced to English gardeners around 1925. The broad, bluntly lobed, evergreen leaves are a rich golden-yellow, becoming yellowish-green or pale green as they age.

Plant in a sheltered position in full sun to semi-shade, in a moist but well-drained soil.

Hedera helix 'Buttercup' received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'
Commonly known as the Teinturier grape, Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' is a deciduous ornamental grapevine. The leaves first emerge a claret-red colour, later turning a deep vinous purple.

It will happily grow in most moist, well-drained soils in a sunny to partially shaded position. Provide a sheltered position.

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' received the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1984.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Variegata

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Variegata
Commonly known as the Parthenocissus quinquefolia Variegata, or Variegated Virginia Creeper, is a selected cultivar of the species which has lovely creamy white splashes on the foliage.

It is less vigorous than the regular Parthenocissus quinquefolia making it ideal for smaller areas. With the genus being noted for its spectacular autumn colour it is possible for the foliage to be red, pink, white, and green all at the same time!

Parthenocissus quinquefolia Variegata will be happy planted in full sun or partial shade in any fertile, well-drained soil

Jasminum officinale 'Fiona Sunrise'

Jasminum officinale 'Fiona Sunrise'
Jasminum officinale 'Fiona Sunrise' is arguably the best yellow leaved climber currently available. It is a vigorous, deciduous cultivar perfect for training over walls, arches or gateways. However due to its strong growth will require a suitably sturdy support structure.

Plant in a sheltered position in full. sun. Jasminum 'Fiona Sunrise' is tolerant of partial shade, but the foliage will turn a yellowish green if there is not enough light. Jasminum officinale 'Fiona Sunrise' prefers fertile, well-drained soil and a sheltered position with some winter protection.

Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak'

Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak'
Vitis coignetiae 'Claret Cloak' is a large-leaved, deciduous climber with purple-red shoots and young leaves. It was found growing in a batch of seedlings of Vitis coignetiae during 1988 in Fromefield Nurseries, Romney.

As the leaves age, they become greener, but they also turn to rich colours in autumn. 'Claret Cloak' is harder to find in garden centres than the species, but is available from nurseries that specialise in climbing plants.

Vitis coignetiae ‘Claret Cloak’ is very easy to grow in any reasonably fertile soil in sun or part shade, but will need a support in order to establish.

Actinidia kolomikta

Actinidia kolomikta
Actinidia kolomikta is a rarely seen yet extremely ornamental deciduous climbing plant native to the Eastern Asiatic Region. It is a striking climber noted for the tri-coloured variegation of many of its leaves.

Plant in a moist but well-drained. For best foliage effect position in full sun.

 Actinidia kolomikta received the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1984.

Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'

Humulus lupulus 'Aureus'
Commonly known as the 'Golden Hop', Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' is a strong growing vigorous herbaceous climber with rough, twining stems. It bears yellow, deeply lobed leaves and drooping cone-like, greenish-yellow, aromatic female flower clusters which followed by attractive hops.

It is ideal for growing up trellis or over an arch in a sheltered position. It will tolerate partial shade but a sunny place will produce the best leaf colour so long as the soil does not dry out.

Plant Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' in a sheltered position in a moist but well-drained soil.

Parthenocissus henryana

Parthenocissus henryana
Native to China, Parthenocissus henryana is a vigorous, deciduous tendril climber which under favourable conditions can growing up to 10 metres in height. It was named after the Irish plant collector Augustine Henry (1857–1930) who discovered the species on his tour of Central China in the 1880s. However it was introduced to Great Britain by another great plant collector, Ernest Henry Wilson, in 1903.

The thick glossy leaves are dark velvety green or tinged bronze, with 3-5 silvery-veined leaflets which give an evergreen feel to this handsome specimen. They then change colour to a brilliant red in autumn before falling.

Hedera colchicum 'Sulphur Heart'

Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart'
Hedera colchicum 'Sulphur Heart' is an evergreen climbing shrub that clings to its support by aerial roots. It has broadly ovate leaves to 20cm in length, which are dark green with a central splash of yellow and yellow-green.

It is a vigorous cultivar which will grows best in fertile, humus-rich, alkaline soil. That being said, it will tolerate acidic soils.

The Royal Horticultural Society gave Hedera colchicum 'Sulphur Heart' the prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1984.

For related articles click onto the following links:
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR FOLIAGE COLOUR EFFECT
CLIMBING PLANTS FOR SHADED WALLS AND FENCES

HOW TO GROW CERCIS SILIQUASTRUM

How to grow Cercis siliquastrum

Otherwise known as the Judas tree or Love tree, Cercis siliquastrum is a small deciduous tree that was introduced to English gardens during the 16th century. Native to the South-Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia region, it is likely to have arrived by way of silk road traders or soldiers returning from the last of the crusades. It was first named and described by Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), the father of modern taxonomy.

How to grow Cercis siliquastrum
The common name 'Judas tree' refers to the belief that it was this species of tree that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from. However, may just be a corruption of the French common name 'Arbre de Judée', meaning 'tree of Judea'. Judea being the modern name of the mountainous, southern region of Palestine.

Under favourable conditions, Cercis siliquastrum can be expected to grow to approximately 12 metres in height and with a width of 10 metre. The mid-green, broadly heart-shaped leaves are 10 cm in width, and appear shortly after the first flowers emerge.

Clusters of rosy-lilac blooms cover the branches in May emerging on year-old or older growth, including the trunk! Unfortunately, in the flowers are prone to damage from late frosts and so plant in a sheltered position. In more northerly region plant against a south-facing wall and consider providing frost protection. The flowers are surprisingly edible and reportedly have a sweet-acid taste. Once pollinated, green, purple-tinted seed pods appear from July onwards.

Plant Cercis siliquastrum in late September to early May. Established specimen resent disturbance to roots so once planted avoid replanting or planting other shrubs, bedding etc close by. They will perform well in any good garden soil in a position that receives full sun.

Cercis siliquastrum received the Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.

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WHEN AND HOW DO YOU PRUNE BACK WEIGELA

When and how do you prune back Weigela

Named after the German scientist Christian Ehrenfried Weigel (1748 – 1831), Weigela species and cultivars are a genus of hardy deciduous flowering shrubs. Most notable of these are Weigela florida 'Foliis purpureis',Weigela florida 'Variegata' and Weigela praecox 'Variegata', all of which have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Weigela old wood
They are amongst the most popular of early-summer flowering shrubs, although many of the species have now been superseded by the named garden cultivars. During May and June they produce small, foxglove-like blooms in clusters on the previous season's wood.

Weigela should be pruned each year directly after flowering. Remove just one or two of the old stems on younger plants and between 10-20% of the old growth on larger specimens. When pruning your chosen stems, remove each one back to ground level.

Under favourable conditions, mature specimens can reach a approximate height and spread of between 2-3 metres. So if you are just want to control their size then cut back by one-third each season. Again this should be addressed immediately after flowering.

On old specimens that are losing their ornamental value, remove no more than one-third of the old woody growth. Repeat this over the next couple of years to effectively rejuvenate the plant. Be aware that such drastic pruning can cause your Weigela to not flower the following year.

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HOW TO GROW BUDDLEIA DAVIDII

How to grow Buddleia davidii

Commonly known as the 'Butterfly Bush', and for good reason, Buddleia davidii is an ornamental flowering garden plant native to Japan and the Sichuan and Hubei provinces in central China. They are grown for their nectar-rich profusion of blooms. Each flower is slender and tubular with four spreading lobes. They are arranged in plume-shaped clusters and have proven to be a particular favourite for many species of butterfly.

How to grow Buddleia davidii
It is a hardy, deciduous shrub of bushy habit and under favourable condition can grow to a height and spread of approximately 3 metres.

Despite there being approximately 180 cultivars of Buddleia davidii, its vigorous nature and ease of propagation from seed has seen it classified as an invasive species in many temperate countries. Prior to it being considered by many to be be a noxious weed, Buddleia davidii was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Award of Merit (AM) in 1898 and the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1941.

Due to its invasive nature, Buddleia davidii is extremely easy to grow. The best time to plant is in October to November or from March to April. It will perform best in a moist, well-drained, loamy soil and will even tolerant of lime. A sunny position is required for effective flowering but it will tolerate a partially shaded position

Regular pruning is not required, but to maintain a manageable size cut back in March. Remove all of the previous years growth to 5-10 cm of the old wood, this will encourage strong, erect stems and large flower clusters.

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HOW TO GROW LITHOPS INDOORS

How to grow Lithops indoors

Lithops plants, perhaps more commonly known as 'Pebble Plants' or 'Living Stones', are a fascinating succulent plant native to wide areas of Namibia and South Africa. They are found in elevations from sea level to high mountains, with individual populations covering just a small area of dry grassland, or bare rocky ground. Each Lithops species is found in in its own particular environment, usually restricted to a specific type of rock.

Wild lithops
Despite this specialisation to specific environments, Lithops are relatively easy to grow if given sufficient sun and a suitable well-drained soil. If they do not receive enough direct sunlight your Lithops will etiolate (grow slender and elongated), lean towards the available light and lose colouration.

When growing Lithops as house plants, the better you can mimic their natural habit the more successful you will be. Newly purchased plants can be potted on into 7-9 cm pots using either a proprietary cactus compost or make your own using a mix of equal parts by volume John Innes 'No 2' potting compost and horticultural grade grit-sand. Position the plants in the soil so that about three-quarters of the height of the plant remains above the soil level. You can add grit or fine ornamental gravel to the surface of the pot to ensure that the 'neck' of the plants remains dry.

How to grow Lithops
Water Lithops with a fine mist sprayer, or a small watering can fitted with a fine rose. Never allow the soil to become waterlogged and always allow the surface of the compost to dry out between waterings. As a rough guide, this can be once a week during the spring and autumn. Do not water during the summer or winter months or when the old leaves are being replaced with new. It is important never to overwater as this can cause the plant to become bloated and may cause rot roots. Be aware that Lithops have a definite rest period from the middle of October until May (northern hemisphere), during which they should not be watered. In its native habitat, the thick, succulent leaves have evolved to store enough water for the plants to survive for months without rain. Periodic watering generally begins from early to mid-August for most species and then again in the Spring.

Provide a minimum winter temperature of 5 degrees Celsius and maintain maximum light levels throughout the year. During the year the leaves will start to wrinkle, at which point you also withhold water. There is no need to worry as this is perfectly natural so do not do the opposite and increase watering! A new pair of leaves will appear between the old ones and will increase in size as the old ones finally shrivel away. Once the old leaves have completely dried up you can commence watering again.

Lithops will usually need to be al least three years, sometimes up to five years old, before they are mature enough to bloom.

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HOW TO GROW LITHOPS FROM SEED

How to grow Lithops from seed

Otherwise known as 'Living Stones' or 'Pebble Plants, Lithops is a genus of approximately 400 species, although new species continue to be discovered. They are small, extremely succulent plants whose camouflage and mimicry have evolved to help hide from their native plant eating predators.

Lithops seeds
You can sow lithops seed from mid-winter right up until late summer, but best results are usually produced when sowing in April.

Using a modular seed tray filled with a low nutrient, free-draining compost (a proprietary cactus compost will be fine) or make your own using a of 50% potting mix and 50% perlite, vermiculite or horticultural grade grit-sand by volume.

Scatter the lithops seeds on the surface, do not bury them. Lithops seeds require high humidity and the presence of light to help initiate germination so provide a thin covering of silver sand. Gently water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose or a fine mist sprayer, and then place inside a heated propagator at a temperature of approximately 18-27 degrees Celsius. Alternatively seal inside a clear polythene bag or cover the tray with a sheet of glass or perspex. Place on a warm windowsill, but one which not receive direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Germination is irregular, but you can expect the seedlings to emerge anytime from 2-12 weeks.

Lithops seedlings
Allow the surface of the compost to dry out between waterings and increase ventilation as more seedlings appear.

Once the lithops seedlings have begun to establish in their modules, they will be ready for transplanting. Gently pop out the module disturbing the roots as little as possible and pot on into 6 cm pots filled with regular cactus compost. Again, allow the surface of the soil to dry out slightly before watering. Once the lithops seedlings are two to three months old you can begin to let them dry out for a few days between more thorough waterings. They can also be conditioned to receive higher levels of light. Transplant again when the plants become too crowded.

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WHEN AND HOW TO PRUNE HEBES


The many Hebe species and varieties available can make for a fantastic addition to the suburban garden. In fact a total 20 cultivars so far have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. They are all evergreen, mostly half-hardy and suitable for temperate climates. Although popular in northern Europe, be aware that they will not thrive in regions subject to prolonged freezing temperatures.

When and how to prune hebes - http://www.mindenpictures.com/
They are generally slow growing, but overtime many of them can outgrow their position. So in order to maintain balance and harmony within in the garden space just when to you prune hebes, and how exactly do you do it?

As a rule no regular pruning is necessary, but the best time to prune Hedges is immediately after flowering. That way you get to deadhead them at the same time. Remove approximately 10 cm on small varieties and 15 to 25 cm on the larger ones.

Remove any dead or frost damaged stems or branches in spring or as they appear, and always cut to a bud growing further down the stem.

Tall, leggy specimens can be pruned back hard in April, again to a bud, which will encourage new shoots to break from the base. This should be done in stages as mature plants have been known to fail. So rather than prune the plant in one go, stagger it over a period of time. Cut back 1/3 of the bush in any one go, giving the plant time to start new growth before pruning back the next section.

For related articles click onto the following links:
WHEN AND HOW TO PRUNE HEBES
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