How to Grow on a Trellis


If you're short on space, one of the best ways to get the plants you want is to grow them on a trellis. Vines, of course, are ideal, but almost any shrub with flexible branches can be trained to lie flat against a wall by tying its branches to a framework. You must spend a little more time on maintenance--pruning off unwanted shoots and tying up new branches--but you gain a bounty of flowers for the cost of only a few square feet of garden bed.

Setting the Framework

Step 1

Attach your trellis securely to your wall or fence, following the directions given for that type of structure.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball of your vine or climber. Mix the soil you take from the hole with a half cup of bone meal, half fill the hole with soil.

Step 3

Place your plant so that the maximum number of branches are facing toward the trellis or parallel to it. Make sure that the top of the root ball is even with the top of the surrounding bed and fill around the roots with reserved soil. Water well.

Step 4

With your pruners, remove any branches that are pointing away from the trellis. The remaining branches will form the framework of your specimen. If you have only one shoot, prune several inches off the tip to force branches out below that point. They will sprout from the buds along the side of the shoot. Pull the remaining branches back to the trellis and secure with plastic ties approximately a foot apart.

Step 5

Throughout the year, repeat the previous step, removing superfluous branches and tying back new ones as they grow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always prune vigorous vines such as honeysuckle back to a basic framework of branches every year. If you let too many of the shoots grow, you'll soon be faced with a tangled, twisting mass of stems without grace or discernible shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Vine, climber or shrub with flexible branches
  • Trellis
  • Bone meal
  • Plastic ties
  • Pruning shears


  • Vines: Growing A Living Screen
Keywords: trellis, vines, climbers

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.