Hanging plants from a vinyl pergola allows your garden to take a vertical leap. Vertical gardening is a particularly effective method for providing shade. A vinyl pergola provides built-in support for hanging plants and for growing climbing vines. You can “train” climbing vines to cover a trellis or lattice work side while also trailing over the top of your vinyl pergola for extra added shade.
Step 1 - Select Sun-Loving or Shade-Tolerant Vines
You can train some sun-loving vines like bougainvillea to grow on the trellis of the side walls or around the posts to provide an edge to the vinyl pergola. Train a substantial leafy vine like wisteria across the pergola top to create a great deal of shade below.
You can select from a few shade-tolerant vines, such as ivy, that can enhance the pergola space. Keep an eye on the ivy so it doesn’t take over.
Step 2 - Select Shade-Loving Plants for Hanging Baskets
Choose plants for hanging baskets that are shade-tolerant or shade-welcoming, plants such as staghorn fern and selected orchids. These are called epiphytes. They require a misting device in their vicinity but are well suited to shade. Some other plant varieties that take well to the shade include the following:
- Bottlebrush buckeye
- Common witch hazel
- Highbrush cranberry
- Japanese kerria
- Korean spice
- Large fothergilla
- New Jersey tea
- Oakleaf hydrangea
- Red osier dogwood
- Shrubby St. John's wort
- Smooth hydrangea
- Sweet pepperbush
- Virginia sweetspire
Step 3 - Add Color
Suspend hanging baskets with pops of bright-colored foliage to add depth and texture at a visitor’s eye level. Varied hanging plants can also create a focal point in your garden.
Step 4 - Hang Containers Correctly
Hanging containers will move freely in the wind. Make sure they do not swing into one another or the pergola. Thread the basket's hanging wire through a piece of vinyl tubing. Take the hanging chain up through the top of the tube and attach it to one of the pergola rafters. The stiff tubing will encourage less swinging on a windy day.
Step 5 - Attach Bumper Guards
Attach adhesive-backed rubber pieces (available in the fabric section of your local department store) to the bottoms of hanging plants. The rubber bumpers will prevent the plant holders from cracking one another (important if you use traditional clay pottery). Place a “ring collar” of rubber bumper around the bottom edge of the clay pot.
Step 6 - Construct Side Rails
Measure the distance between neighboring hanging plants and cut plastic tubing to this length. Insert hard wire through the tubing (like clothes hanger wire) that you can bend to attach over the sides of both adjoining plant containers to preventing these from colliding. You can easily remove and replace these side rails when weather conditions dictate.
Substitute hard plastic with heavy cardboard tubing from the bottom rail of a clothes hanger.