Supports for Climbers


The major forms of climber support are wooden or plastic trellis panels, plastic or wire mesh and wires stretched between vine eyes or rust-proof nails. Choose a support based on the growth rate, eventual height and spread of the climber - one that is not strong enough for a vigorous climber may quickly become overwhelmed and will eventually collapse. Wires or mesh are appropriate supports for tendril climbers. Trellis is the most reliable support for twining climbers, and may also be used for scramblers if they are tied in.

Trellis and Mesh

When growing plants against a flat, free-standing trellis, bear in mind that climbers produce their flowers on one side of the support only, so you will need to position plants to provide their display where it will be most effective.

Always fix a trellis panel or mesh so that it is slightly away from the wall or fence (about 5 cm), so that air can circulate freely. The base of the framework should also be approximately 30 cm (12 in) above soil level. As walls need maintenance (repointing, painting or rendering) from time to time, it is a good idea to attach trellis and mesh with hooks at the top and hinges at the base, so that the whole plant may be lowered from the wall while repairs are carried out. Alternatively, hooks can be used at the top and bottom, which will enable the trellis to be taken down completely and laid flat on the ground.

Once you have chosen your support, ensure that it is installed securely before planting. Never use staples or nails to attach the stems of any plant to its support; the plant will quickly outgrow them, causing the stems to become restricted and to die back.


Wires may be stretched horizontally or vertically between rust-proof nails or vine eyes. Starting at 30 cm above ground level in front of the wall or fence, fix vine eyes or nails in a number of vertical or horizontal lines. Space the vine eyes or nails no more than 1.8 m apart along the rows, with 30 - 45 cm spacing between rows. Make enough rows to take wires to give support for the height and spread of the climber.

As with trellis panels, the wires should be held 5 cm (2 in) from the surface of the wall or fence to allow air to circulate. The wire must be kept taut to prevent sagging; either tighten the vine eyes with pliers or attach tensioners at approximately 2m (6ft) intervals.

For timber pergola and arch posts, use 3 screw-in type vine eyes starting at 30 cm above ground level. Position the second one about 10 cm below the top of the post, and the third at mid level. Then stretch the wire vertically through these fittings, tightening as described above.

Free Standing Supports

Climbers may also be supported using free standing structures such as obelisks or cane wigwams.