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The Best Climbing Plants for Arbors

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Arbors covered with climbing plants define outdoor living spaces with beauty and charm. The simplest of structures is enhanced when covered in living plants. Elaborate arbors and pergolas gracefully draped in vines or roses are garden rooms in themselves, encouraging outdoor living during the most pleasant months of the year. Choose plants suited to your climatic conditions, and your personal preferences.


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Roses must be secured to their support. Roses with long, flexible canes are most easily trained to arbors, but any climbing rose may be used, including shrub roses with vigorous growth. For fragrant red roses, "Don Juan", "Dublin Bay", "Falstaff" or "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" may be trained on the arbor. Pink fragrant climbers include "Gertrude Jekyll", "Pearly Gates", "Seminole Wind" and "Louise Odier." "Constance Spry" is a fragrant pink once-blooming rose. Some fragrant yellow roses suitable for arbors are "The Pilgrim", "Scent From Above" and "Teasing Georgia." In the peachy colors, "Abraham Darby" is very fragrant, as are "Crown Princess Margareta" and "A Shropshire Lad." Dark pink "Zepherine Droughin" and silver-pink "Old Blush Rose" are fragrant and have few thorns.

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Clematis is a versatile group of plants including hundreds of named cultivars. Choose vining types according to your local climatic conditions. Among cold-hardy blue flowering vines are C. “Barbara Jackman,” “Royalty” and “Ramona.” With purple flowers are “Polish Spirit” and “The President.” Pinks and reds include “Nelly Moser” and “Niobe.” Clematis may be grown along with climbing roses on the arbor. Allow room for each plant’s root zone to minimize competition for water and nutrients. Provide strong support for the very vigorous C. Montana “Sweet Autumn.” It is less cold hardy than other clematis and may be invasive in very warm, humid climates.


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Honeysuckle vines may be grown with success on arbors. These often-fragrant vines may be very vigorous growers, their flowers attracting hummingbirds. In high-traffic areas, or where allergies may be a problem, consider that honeysuckles may attract bees as well. Hall’s honeysuckle is aggressive, even invasive, in some climates. Consider substituting Lonicera periclymenum, or woodbine. “Serotina” is fragrant with purple and yellow flowers. “Scentsation” blooms in creamy yellow. L. x heckrottii “Pink Lemonade” has sweetly scented pink flowers and is well-behaved in the home garden.

Other Plants and Vines

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An arbor covered in draping wisteria flowers is a beautiful display. Allow for a strong structural support for wisteria’s eventually heavy branches. Boston ivy and Virginia creeper have fall color interest. English ivy is evergreen. Trachelospermum jasminoides, commonly called confederate or star jasmine, also evergreen, has very fragrant flowers in spring. Jasminum officinale, or common jasmine, has very fragrant flowers summer through fall. J. officinale “Aureum” presents striking yellow foliage. Fragrant vines commonly attract bees.

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