Help Your Plants to Grow Up: Trellising Tips For Vertical Gardens

by Isabel Vinton

Climbing plants are a fantastic addition to your garden - whether you're planting several acres or whether you have a small garden and you're trying to maximize space. While many of these climbing varieties could be grown purely for looks and visual interest, you'll be glad to know that they offer lots of other benefits.

  • Climbing varieties make for easy picking -  no need to constantly bend to the floor when harvesting!
  • They help to create a health growing environment, increasing air flow around the plants which can reduce problems such as powdery mildew and other diseases
  • They can increase critter control as some pests can't, or are less inclined, to climb up the plant
  • The tall vines create added privacy from road traffic and neighbors

Unless you choose a short variety (we’ll cover some of these below), most of these crops will need to be trellised. A trellis is a vertical or horizontal latticed structure. A trellis doesn’t just support vertical growth; it also supports horizontal growth, helping to disperse the plant canopy and the fruits. It can be a fence, posts with string stretched across, chicken wire, netting, really anything with vertical paths for plants to follow – we’ve even used old mattress frames!

Some crops that benefit from trellising are:

  • Pole and runner beans – the main difference between pole/runner beans and bush beans, besides the fact that they love to climb, 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. Some of these varieties, such as the Red Noodle Bean, can grow to 8’ plus so trellis with tall, sturdy stakes, posts, or string running up the side of your house or shed.

  • Cucumbers can be grown on the ground but if you’re looking for cleaner, straighter fruits, then consider using a trellis. You may also avoid some hungry pests and will certainly make the picking less back-breaking. Choose a sturdy trellis with some wire or mesh support that can bear the weight of the vines and fruit .

  • Climbing Flowers – whether you’re looking to add privacy or simply enjoy these towers of beauty, these climbing varieties are a great way to go. Morning Glories, Sweet Peas, Balloon Vine and Moon Flower will all climb tall and look beautiful doing it. Using strings/twine if growing up the side of your house or plant them near fencing or stakes.

  • Tomatoes while tomatoes aren’t natural climbers, most indeterminate varieties (which the majority of our tomatoes are) require support. Growing tomatoes vertically will also keep fruit from spoiling on the ground and you will have fewer issues with pests. For best results, use stakes and wire or twine to tie the branches to and keep well pruned.

Do you trellis? What are your favorite trellising tips?