Grow Up! Vertical Gardening

artful trellis

I love a vigorous variety, especially one that climbs. Vertical gardening is a great way to grow for small spaces, privacy, visual interest, easy picking, and critter control.

Here are some of our favorites with tips on how to grow them.

erin morning glory Erin with her Morning Glory tower.

Morning Glory and Moon Flower: These are both morning glories but one blooms during the day and one blooms in the evening and night. Can you guess which is which? I love growing these together. They have the same habits, same care needs, twine romantically together, the Moon Flower smells heavenly, and you get blooms all day and into the night. I'm experimenting with growing them in a container this year. Here's how I'm doing it.

1. Nick and soak the seeds. These seeds can take a long time to germinate if you don't speed up the process a bit. I rub them in coarse sand paper and then soak them in warm water for 24 hours.

2. Set up supports. It's best to do this first so that you don't have to disturb the plants after they get growing. Fencing, vertical strings, trellising,  stick structures, cages, anything with vertical paths to follow will work great.

3. Plant in moist soil and keep wet. You can do this in a garden, base of a fence, stairs or railing, or in a container. Make sure these seeds don't dry out whole they are still germinating. Follow the spacing info on our packs weather these are planted in the ground or a container. I'm planting a few more than that and will thin out to leave the best looking seedlings.

4. Once they are up water moderately, letting the spoil surface dry out between watering.

5. Give some direction. It they are not finding your supports you can encourage them to climb by gently winding them a few times around the base of the trellising. They won't need any help after that!

6. Let them grow up!

moon_flower_art_print Moonflower by Tona Wilson


balloon vine small Heart Seed by Cal Patch

Balloon Vine: This vigorous vine can also be inter-planted with morning glories. The inflated chartreuse pods are so cool but the flowers themselves are barely visible. Amazingly, the tiny flowers attract native pollinators and honey bees from all around. I also like this vine for some fall interest; the pods fade from green to rust. IN the late fall you can harvest the pods, pop them, and collect the three round seeds inside each balloon. Each ebony seed has an ivory heart on it. Tip: make sure this is growing on something very sturdy. The dense foliage and hearty vines can get heavy. These make a great privacy screen.


cucumber tendril These cukes are natural climbers.

Yamato Sanjaku Cucumber: This Japanese cuke is long and skinny. You'd never know it has seeds when you harvest it at the right stage. Although you can grow this right on the ground, if you want your cucumbers to be long and straight and not curly, then grow it on a trellis. It doesn't need much encouragement to grow tall. If you have critters that like cucurbits, this will keep your developing harvest off the ground and make it easier to pick- no more bending over to find the fruits!

scarlet runner flower Scarlet Runner Beans are both edible and ornamental.

Scarlet Runner Bean and Northeaster Bean: All of our pole beans love to climb. The biggest difference between a bush bean and a pole bean, other than the climbing, is how they ripen. Bush beans have a distinct harvest window of about 10 days. When they're done producing it's time to pull out the plants. Pole beans ripen in succession from bottom to top and provide a longer season of eating.


purple podded pea gardiner library

Peas: A beautiful, edible and great climber. Sow in early spring and provide a good support. We've used plastic webbing, the basket weave, and even old mattress frames to support luscious plants.

mattress trellis

5 thoughts on “Grow Up! Vertical Gardening”

  • eileen ingraham
    eileen ingraham 04/30/2013 at 11:46 am

    I am going to share your seed-saver information regarding vertical gardening with my daughter Lisa who lives in Plattsburgh with her husband and 6 year old son Jack. They closed in January on their home on 14 acres. They will appreciate the information you provided. Thanks, and Hi to Ken. Eileen


    We just harvested our PURPLE PODDED PEAS in the community garden! Can't wait to hand out the dried seeds to all our members!
    I love your program! Keep up the good work!

  • Max

    You don't have to restrict your plant choices to the obvious climbers such as beans and peas. I've grown cantaloupes and watermelons vertically on cattle panel trellises. The added strength of a cattle panel assures you that the weight will be adequately supported. Smaller sized fruits (2-4 lbs) often don't need additional support, but for heavier varieties a nylon stocking or netting of some sort attached to the cattle panel may be required.

    I was forced to go vertical due to the ravages of the local rabbit and vole populations. Rabbit would eat the vines directly and the voles often found a cozy spot directly beneath a melon, resulting in rot to the underside of that melon.

  • Kathy Rivera
    Kathy Rivera 05/02/2013 at 2:19 pm

    Question: Can I grow yellow squash in limited, but sunny space, vertically? Seems like Max above writes growing smaller weight vegetables would be ok with good support. Thanks.


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