Vertical Garden: Growing Perennial vs. Annual Vines

A vertical garden is a nice solution if you have limited space or don't want to spend a lot of time on your knees. Climbing gardens can be both beautiful and functional, providing shade, vegetables or coverage from neighbors (depending on what you choose to grow). Deciding between perennials and annuals is one of your first tasks when you plan your vertical garden.

Vertical Gardening Basics

With so many vines and climbing plants available, you have a wide selection to choose from. By using proper supports, you can train vines to grow up instead of out. Growing vines this way saves space, makes them easier to prune and makes any fruit or vegetables easier to pick.

You must securely anchor your support structure before you plant. This attention ensures correct positioning for your plants.

You may also wish to consider how much work you want to put into your vertical garden. Many perennials like grapes and clematis require annual pruning and maintenance to keep them looking good. However, annuals require yearly planting, and fruiting annuals will require a lot of watering as the summer’s hot days approach. Some plants may require regular fertilization to keep them blooming well.

Perennial Vine Choices

Some popular perennial vines include wisteria, trumpet vine, climbing hydrangea, ivy, clematis, bougainvillea, climbing roses and passion flower. Unlike annuals, perennials typically only bloom in one season or, at the most, two. If you are looking for something to blend or contrast with another element in your garden, be sure to check when the plant regularly blooms.

Another important thing to remember with perennial vines is that you should determine the size of a mature plant and take that into consideration for your support structure before you plant. Typically perennials get much larger and heavier than annuals and will require stronger support structures.

Annual Vine Choices

In the annual vine category, popular choices include morning glory, nasturtium, moonflower, gourds and sweet peas. Other vegetables that can be grown upward also include pole beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, lima beans, melons, squash and pumpkins. Though small fruited varieties work best in vertical gardens, squash, melon and pumpkin will all grow well with some support to keep the fruit from breaking off.

You can limit the size of annuals and perennials because their height and width is generally determined by the structure they grow on. However, you should be careful with both perennials and annuals to keep the plants within their boundaries. Some vines can actually damage house structures by working their roots into the mortar. As a general rule, you should set any trellis or support for a vertical garden at least a foot away from your house.