How To Help A Vine Climb A Tree

A trellis framework helps a vine to climb a tree

This picture, taken at Gresgarth Hall in Lancashire shows how a vigorous vine such as a rambling rose or a Clematis montana can be encouraged to grow against a tree.

The soil at the base of a tree is often dry and impoverished. Dig a hole for the plant two feet (60cm) or more away from the trunk of the tree. Mix in a little organic matter such as leaf mould or compost to enrich the soil

If the plant came in a pot, gently tease out the roots over the hole. Mix the soil that falls from the container in with the planting soil too. Plant the rose or vine aiming for the soil level to be about the same as it was in the pot.  Water in well.

Use a sturdy cane ladder to train the plant back towards a lower branch of the tree.  The smaller canes the plant came with can be tied or woven in to the ladder.

As the vine grows, weave the pliable young stems around the cane, tying them in if needed.

If wild animals such as rabbits or deer visit the area and may be tempted to nibble the lower stems of the plant, use chicken wire to protect them.

18 Replies to “How To Help A Vine Climb A Tree”

    1. We often hear descriptions of how to train a climber – plant well away from the base of the support and lean the plant back towards it – but when you see it done, it makes more sense.

    1. It’s stylish and practical. I once saw an orchard of apple trees, each growing into their own more sturdy ladder at Jupiter Artlands. I was not sure whether it served a practical purpose or was a work of art – either way, it was memorable. That’s something else I’d love to see as it develops. (Oh for that TARDIS!)

    1. Quite. Perhaps I have got the purpose of the ladder all wrong. Perhaps it is an anti-wriggling device. I was browsing a book that had pictures of a strangler fig yesterday – now, that would make a tree want to run.

      1. An anti-wiggling device! I like that! I wonder if the tree twists and scratches its bark on it when no one’s looking. I’m guessing a barkscratch feels as good as a backscratch.

        1. Hmm, makes me wonder how trees react to woodpeckers…is it a case of ‘Down a bit, please…Yeah, just there!’ 🙂

  1. We have Virginia Creepers that we thought were beautiful at the base of our evergreens. Then we saw that they were strangling them and had to take them out. I love them against our fences, just not on other trees or our house (seen some ivy tearing out brings in on a house – eeek!). Hope your’s is nice.

    1. I’m sorry you had to sacrifice your Virginia Creeper, although it was for a good cause. I shared the picture from Gresgarth Hall as a good example of how to get a vine started against a tree and protect the bottom from rabbits. It would work for a rambling rose, but I believe this plant is a clematis, possibly a montana. I’ll try to remember to check on it next time I visit.

  2. Never went to such lengths to help a vine to climb. Usually I tie vines to an arbor or trellis. Getting vines to climb up a tree trunk can be challenging in my experience, even when it’s an aggressive climber like Virginia Creeper.

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