Climbing Vegetable Plants: Growing your vegetables isn’t just a great way to get fresh, great-tasting food and it’s also good for your physical and mental health. With the right choice of climbing plants, the sky is the limit. Here are some of the best climbing vegetable plants that will provide you with bountiful crops, without taking up too much valuable space.
A guide to climbing vegetable plants
A climbing plant is a plant that climbs up trees and another type of tall objects. Climbing plants are one of the interesting, but also a much-neglected group of plants. Now, let’s get into the details of climbing vegetable plants.
Types of climbing vegetables to trellis
There are three major types of climbing vegetables;
Knowing the difference in their growing tendencies can help you select the right support structure.
Climbers can be classified horticulturally in several ways according to their method of attachment to supports (their growth habit), the basic types of which are:
Twining stems – Most climbers fall into this type of category, soft young shoots simply curl as they come into contact with supports.
Aerial roots – Several plants such as ivies, Virginia creepers, creeping figs employ aerial roots that adhere to the surface of the support, these do not spiral in growth habit and referred to as ‘self-clinging’ plants.
Hooked climbers – Plants that support themselves upon other plants or structures by hooks, or prickles such as blackberries.
Tendrils – Twisted thread-like segments developed by the plant on leaves or stems used only for climbing, such as in grapevines.
Type of structures support climbing plants
You can use fences, walls, arches, and porches. But be careful, climbing plants can get heavy so make sure the support system is durable.
Benefits of climbing plants
Climbing plants are a beautiful addition to the garden and provide depth to simple gardening spaces. They provide shade on those warm summer days. When harvesting these plants indoors, the benefits are;
- Reduced stress and increased sense of well-being
- Improve air quality
- Reduce background noise
How to plant the climbing vegetable plants
In general, you should plant new climber 11 inches to 17 inches away from the base of your support structure so water can reach the root of your plant. Depending on the type of climbing plant you are cultivating will determine how you care and what kind of structure you will use to support it.
Some of the climbing vegetable plants
Nasturtiums aren’t just pretty to look at and they’re also edible (and quite delicious). In addition to the peppery petals, the young leaves of the plant are edible. These quick-growing plants can flower within just 4 weeks of planting. The climbing nasturtium is a vining variety that can reach up to 6 feet. Similar to other varieties, it produces brightly colored, edible flowers that are ideal for decorating salads, soups and also desserts. Train them up trellises, and allow them to spill over balcony railings.
Nasturtium is one of the tastiest vegetables and it is famous for its unique flavor. Every part of this Nasturtium vegetable is edible. However, plant leaves are the most flavored part. They are mainly distinguished by their pleasant peppery and a mustard-like flavor.
Nasturtium is generally used in salads. Though, there are many other healthy uses for this admirable vegetable that include medicinal uses. Nasturtium is known for its fast growth and it can mature and ripen only in 6 weeks. Nasturtium can be simply grown in containers. It is a delicate vegetable, it is better to grow it in containers than to grow it directly in gardens. Besides, Nasturtium growing in containers will allow you to use it for decoration as it is a very decorative plant.
Edible and ornamental, Nasturtiums are mainly known for their tasty, color-saturated flowers and vibrant shield-shaped leaves that have a pleasant peppery and a mustard-like flavor. Good for salad decoration, it is easy to grow in containers. Nasturtiums spread and develop at a rapid pace once planted and start flowering within 4 to 6 weeks.
These are some of the popular varieties of climbing vegetables, and you can grow both bush and vining tomato varieties in a small space. Both varieties can be trained to grow up a wall or trellis. If you are short on space, aim for cherry or grape tomatoes instead of full-sized ones.
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Some of the best tomato varieties for a vertical garden are;
Early Girl Bush – This heavy-cropping variety that is ideal for areas with a short growing season. These tomatoes can mature within 62 days in the right conditions.
Big Boy – An aromatic, heavy-cropping bush variety that is happy to produce in a cage or along a trellis.
Tomato Burgess Climbing – a vine tomato that can reach about 20ft. And it produces large, deep-red tomatoes.
Honey Grape – A high-yielding cherry tomato and this plant produce clusters of sweet, red tomatoes.
Malabar spinach plant is a vigorous climbing plant that needs a trellis or other support. And it will quickly overtake other plants. Malabar spinach plant is highly ornamental and is easily trained up a trellis. Some plant varieties have red stems. Malabar spinach is normally grown on a tower, fence or tepee style trellis. Four trellised plants will occupy a space of about 18 inches (45 cm) square at maturity.
Classified as tropical perennial Malabar spinach plants thrive in milder climates. Red Stemmed Malabar is a productive variety. An easy to grow, the cut-and-come-again vine grows quickly, reaching up to 4ft in height, producing attractive glossy green color leaves with red stems.
Malabar spinach is also known as the Ceylon spinach or climbing spinach. Malabar spinach plants grow in India and throughout the tropics, mainly in the moist lowlands. While the dark green plant leaves resemble those of spinach, this is a vine type of plant that thrives in hot temps, even exceeding 90 F. (32 C.) Cool temperatures cause the Malabar spinach plant to creep. Malabar spinach is grown as an annual but grows like a perennial in frost-free regions.
The Malabar spinach vine will grow rapidly in the heat of summer through fall. It will die out in the winter, but often the plant seeds (if left on the vine) will fall to the ground and sprout the following spring. You can collect the seeds and plant them next spring if you wish.
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Loofah, (genus Luffa) is also known as sponge gourd, or rag gourd, a genus of seven species of annual climbing vines of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Luffa vines are large aggressive climbers with coiling tendrils and yellow flowers. The oblong fruits are greenish color when young and become straw-colored with a brittle rind when mature. The Luffa plants are cold-sensitive and require a long growing season for the fruits to mature. The seeds are soaked or scarified (i.e., scratched with a knife or file) before planting to encourage germination.
This might be an unusual choice for vegetable gardeners since the Luffa is better known as a natural sponge. However, Luffa gourds yield edible, versatile vegetables that can be eaten raw, like a cucumber, or cooked, like squash. Best grown in warmer climates, Luffa is an interesting addition to any large container. Make sure that the plant is in well-draining soil and has enough support.
Chayote plant is a vine that produces a pale green to white, flattened-pear-shaped fruit that tastes like a nutty-flavored squash. Vine-like stems grow from a tuberous root and reach up to 50 feet long. Plant leaves are hairy and resemble maple-leaves; male and female flowers are borne on the same vine. Young shoots, and the fruit, and mature tubers are edible. Chayote plants can be grown in a container, but the yield will not be significant. Grow chayote in a container about 24 inches deep and it is a vigorous climber and a trellis or support should be set in the container at planting time.
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Another unusual addition to the garden, the vining chayote plant produces pear-shaped, pale green fruits that resemble pumpkins. Chayote plant thrives when grown-up fencing or trellising. You can produce this variety in subtropical to moderately cool climates without too much trouble. If you live in a cooler climate, it’ll need a bit more care. Plant chayote in a large pot and bring it indoors in autumn, or offer some form of warm winter protection.
Pole beans need some training onto a pole or trellis, but this makes them easier to harvest. Pole beans require well-drained soil and plenty of organic amendment to produce a large crop. Full sun situations are preferable in temperatures that are at least 60F. Pole beans need at least an inch of water per week and must not be allowed to dry out but also cannot tolerate soggy soils.
These reliable, productive climbing vegetables are incredibly simple to grow. As an effect, pole beans are a common part of most vertical gardens. It is also known as runner beans, they’re happiest in a mild climate. Just make sure to give sturdy support, lots of light, and plenty of water. The last is particularly true in a vertical garden; small-scale planting can cause plants to dry out quickly.
Some of the pole bean varieties to train up a garden wall are;
Scarlet Runner – A reliable variety that reaches up to 12ft and the crimson red flowers are also edible if you can’t wait for the beans to develop.
Black-seeded Blue Lake – Reaching about 8ft in height, this stringless, vigorous variety is grown for its excellent flavor.
These prolific climbing vegetables grow happily along trellising, wires, or any other support structure.
All types of climbing pea varieties will thrive in a vertical garden. That said, some of the most popular varieties are;
California Black-Eyed Peas – A vigorous vine that doesn’t need too much attention. It doesn’t take long to mature for about 75 days. If you can’t wait, the pods can be picked young and eaten like snap beans.
Sugar Snap – A sweet, early variety that can grow up to 5ft.
English “Blue Pod Capuciners” – A true deep-purple heirloom pea produces sweet-smelling flowers. This variety can produce up to 6ft in height, and its pods can either be picked young, like snow peas, or allowed to develop.
All cucumber varieties are climbing vegetables that they will thrive in a vertical garden. Just make sure that the cucumber plants have enough support as their fruits develop. If you have limited space, dwarf varieties are the way to go.
Some of the best cucumber varieties for a vertical garden are:
Marketmore 76 – This produces dark green, uniform cucumbers up to 9 inches in length.
Mexican Sour Gherkin (Melothria scabra) – This is a small, prolific variety. Its lemon-flavored fruit resembles mini watermelons in shape and these are excellent for pickling.
Long English “Tasty Green” – A burpless variety, the vigorous vining plant produces sweet cucumbers.
Training climbing vegetables up garden walls and trellising is a simple and effective solution if you have a limited amount of space. Taking your crops off the ground not helps you to make the most of your space but, allowing the air to circulate your crop, can prevent pests and disease from striking.
Some types of squash are climbing, and require considerably more space in your garden than the bush varieties. Unless you have ample space, train the climbing squash to grow vertically up a trellis or other type of support system. You can plant climbing squash in rows or hills. If you plant in rows, plant at least 2 seeds per foot.
Once the plant seedlings have emerged, remove excess plants so that you have one squash plant every 3 feet. Use garden scissors or pruning shears to cut the seedlings you are removing at the soil line. If you decide to use the hill method, plant around 6 seeds in each hill. And once the seedlings have sprouted, remove all but two. Plant the squash seeds 1 inch deep, or to a depth twice the size of the seed. If you are planting seedlings, make the hole in the soil twice as wide as the root ball and plant the seedlings at the same depth in the soil as they are in the container.
There are many gourds which are climbing in nature for example, a ridge gourd, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, ivy gourd, and pointed gourd etc..
That’s all folks about climbing vegetable plants information. You may be interested in How to Pollinate Vegetable Gourds by Hand.