8 of the best climbing plants for pots to add height and style to your container garden

These potted climbing plants are perfect for small gardens and balconies

A garden with potted plants and a trellis with climbing plants
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Looking for the best climbing plants for pots? You’ve come to the right place. At Ideal Home, we’re huge advocates for growing in containers and pots, and it’s fair to say that we also have a serious soft spot for climbing plants.

Yes, container gardens are ideal for those who don’t have the space for in-ground planting. And while you could opt for traditional low-level flowers and shrubs, adding height in the form of climbing plants can make a big impact. They can even be used to your advantage and serve as screening plants for your balcony, terrace, or small garden.

Unfortunately, not all climbing plants are suitable for containers. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and pulled together the best climbing plants for pots so that you can focus your attention on what you can grow rather than what you can’t.

Best climbing plants for pots

One of the biggest container garden mistakes you can make is choosing the wrong plants, and the last thing you want to do is choose a climbing plant that isn’t suited to life in a pot. Thankfully, these 8 climbing plants will be the perfect addition to your container garden.

1. Clematis

Clematis with a basket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Clematis isn’t just one of the best climbing plants for pots. It has also topped our list as one of the fastest-growing climbing plants for privacy since it’s one of the speediest climbers around.

This means that you can hide your ugly fence or even hide your balcony railing in no time. Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries, explains, ‘Perhaps one of the prettiest and well-known of climbers, there are hundreds to choose from, including different shapes, colours and flowering times so you really can take your pick.’

‘There are some which have a more compact habit, which makes them a little more suitable for container growing, such as Clematis ‘Blue Dwarf.’

To grow clematis in pots, choose a large container and place it in a sunny or partially shady spot. And while clematis are pretty hardy, they don’t enjoy being overwatered. So, make sure that you choose a pot with sufficient drainage holes - or consider self-watering planters.

Where to buy clematis:

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex.

Wisteria on an arch

(Image credit: Getty Images/Hans Henning Wenk)

2. Wisteria

If you want to turn your front or back garden into a scene from Bridgerton, wisteria should definitely be on your wish list. But while you may assume that you can’t, you’ll be happy to know that you can indeed grow wisteria in a pot.

However, your success will depend on a few different things. For starters, you need to make sure you’re choosing the right wisteria for your space - and if you don’t have a giant garden (or even a garden at all) at your disposal, it’s best to check out the best wisteria for small gardens.

Alongside this, you should also plant wisteria in the largest pot you can find and then place said pot in the sunniest location. Then, you must maintain a watering schedule and feed it regularly to keep it happy and healthy.

If you tick all of those boxes, we have no doubts that wisteria will quickly become your favourite climbing plant in your container garden.

Where to buy wisteria:

3. Climbing roses

Garden with a climbing rose plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Do you only have a small garden or teeny-weeny outdoor area? Don’t worry; opting for climbing plants in pots will allow you to make the most of the vertical space in your garden (or balcony) rather than using the horizontal space, and climbing roses will tickle all of your senses.

As well as looking beautiful, they’ll also fill your outdoor space with a stunning, sweet scent. However, it’s important to note that climbing roses have incredibly deep roots, which means that you need to focus on choosing a planter that’s deeper rather than wider.

John Clifford, garden expert at Gardenstone advises, ‘Roses should be planted in loam based compost with added multi-purpose compost or well rotted manure for richness. The plants will grow better if you top dress them every spring with a granular rose fertiliser, and they should be mulched with a two inch layer of compost or manure to keep the soil rich and moist.'

‘Additionally, every second year remove the top two inches of the compost and replace this with a fresh layer.’ And if you want to ensure that these blooms come back year after year, you must know how to prune climbing roses.

Where to buy climbing roses:

John Clifford
John Clifford

John Clifford is a director of Gardenstone, a leading garden landscaping retailer based in the UK. With over 30 years in the gardening industry and continual work alongside The National Trust, John has amassed an extensive range of gardening and planting knowledge. Alongside his younger son, John has built a strong reputation for Gardenstone as a trusted source for both high-quality garden products and expert gardening advice. 

4. Jasmine

Jasmine plant with white flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jasmine is the perfect climbing plant for those who prefer smaller, delicate blooms over big, bold flower heads. And when you look at its showy white flowers and shiny green foliage, it’s not hard to understand why it’s become such a popular screening plant.

While it’s easy to grow jasmine in pots, this plant does require a large pot and a fair bit of support. After all, jasmine can climb to impressive heights and prefers to grow up against a fence or a wall if possible. If that’s not possible, however, you could use a climbing frame instead.

Then, keep on top of pruning to ensure it doesn’t grow too large, and make sure you choose the right time to prune jasmine.

Where to buy jasmine:

5. Sweet peas

Sweet peas growing in basket and up trellis

(Image credit: Future PLC/Leigh Clapp)

Sweet peas really are a sweet addition to your outdoor space, and these colourful blooms are some of our favourite climbing plants to grow in pots. The great news is that sweet peas thrive in containers, too.

To make the most of these climbing plants, use well-draining soil and place the pot in a sunny spot. Also, if you remember, try to add a slow-release fertiliser every now and then to enhance the vibrancy and blooming period of this plant.

Of course, it’s important to note that as sweet peas are annuals they will only bloom once - but don’t let that discourage you. It’s super easy to grow sweet peas from seed, so you just need to put in a little extra legwork to add more to your outdoor space.

Where to buy sweet peas:

6. Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle climbing up modern trellis on a balcony wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

Honeysuckles come in so many shapes and forms, from shrubby honeysuckles to climbing honeysuckles. As you can imagine, you’ll want to choose climbing honeysuckles if you’re looking to fill up your container garden or your balcony with climbing plants in pots.

You won’t regret it, either. As well as offering delicate, beautiful blooms to your outdoor space, honeysuckle is also famed for its sweet-scented flowers that attract butterflies and birds.

To successfully grow this climbing plant in a pot, make sure you pop it in a sunny spot and feed it regularly. Just be warned that climbing honeysuckle is a particularly fast climber and can overpower other plants nearby.

John says, ‘The plant will benefit from an annual feeding with a general fertiliser in spring, and annually mulching the soil will help to retain moisture. Climbing honeysuckle plants will need to be pruned to prevent them from becoming congested. Remove any weak or damaged growth, and trim back shoots growing in the wrong direction.’

So, give it enough room to grow or get clued up on how to prune honeysuckle to keep it in check.

Where to buy honeysuckle:

7. Climbing hydrangea

Close up of white hydrangea flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Thanks to their romantic appearance and giant flower heads, hydrangeas can actually boost the price of your home. But if you don’t have the space to plant them in-ground, you might be interested to know that you can grow hydrangeas in pots, too.

And if you’re looking for a climbing plant for pots, hydrangea is your plant. Climbing hydrangeas can grow to mammoth heights incredibly quickly and offer impressive blooms during the summer flowering period - but they do require a fair bit of maintenance.

Because climbing hydrangeas are such fast growers, you need to have support in place as soon as you plant them. They are self-climbers, though, so you could simply place this potted climbing plant near a wall or fence for it to use as support.

Then, keep on top of pruning your climbing hydrangea to ensure it doesn’t overpower your outside space and to ensure that the blooms are just as impressive next year.

Where to buy climbing hydrangea:

8. Passion flower

close up of passionflower climbing plant - Namthip Muanthongthae GettyImages-1199452308

(Image credit: Getty Images/Namthip Muanthongthae)

One look at passion flowers will tell you why they’ve been given such a name. This climbing plant offers exotic-looking flowers in white and purple and looks unlike anything else you probably have on your balcony or in your garden.

‘The passion flower can be grown in the UK and in a pot, so good news if you want a tropical vibe in the garden,’ explains Morris. ‘As long as the pot is in a warm, sunny aspect and can be protected against frost, the passion flower will live a long time and you may even be able to grow some fruit! Good drainage is necessary, water regularly and apply an organic feed from spring through summer.’

Just be warned that passion flowers can quickly climb out of control, so aim to train it as best you can or prune it back every now.

Where to buy passion flowers:

  • Thompson & Morgan: A wide range of passion flower sizes and varieties at the click of a button.
  • Suttons: A whole host of different passion flower varieties, including rare exotic flowers.

FAQs

Are there any evergreen climbing plants?

Yes, there are countless evergreen climbing plants! This means that even when your climbing plants aren’t flowering, they still offer coverage in the form of evergreen leaves. Examples of evergreen climbing plants include:

  • Clematis
  • Jasmine
  • Ivy
  • Honeysuckle
  • Passionflower

What climbing plant doesn't need a trellis?

Although most climbing plants do need support in the form of frames and trellises, that doesn’t mean that all of them need this support. Climbing hydrangea and ivy are both self-climbers, which means that they will cling to anything nearby - such as a fence, balcony railing, or wall.

Which climbing plant for pots is your favourite?

Lauren Bradbury
Contributor

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.