Best flowering climbers – 10 top blooms for pergolas, arches and trellis

Flowering climbers will soften your backyard's hard landscaping, dressing it with color and even filling your garden with scent and wildlife

Best flowering climbers – Wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’
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Squeeze more blooms into your garden by growing flowering climbers up walls, over pergolas, through trees, and along fencing. It's wonderful to go for a mix of flowering climbing plants to disguise hard landscaping and to provide a backdrop for your border planting.

Below, we have listed our pick of the best bloomers that scale dizzy heights – we think they're amongst the best climbing plants you can include in your garden design.

Best flowering climbers

From rampant flowering ramblers to delicate flowering climbers, this is our list of the best cottage garden plants to fill your backyard with if you want to recreate a typical English garden.

1. Best flowering climber for cottage garden charm

Flowering climbers - Clematis ‘Mayleen’ AGM

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Clematis ‘Mayleen’ AGM – A mountain clematis with heaps of cottage garden charm. 

In May and June, the delicious vanilla-clove scent of its pink flowers hangs on the air. Grow clematis over a pergola, garage, or long fence, in well-drained, moist neutral to alkaline soil in sun or semi-shade. 

Prune clematis' dense bronze foliage after flowering, if birds aren’t nesting in it. 

Height: 26ft (8m). USDA 6-9 (UK H5). 

2. Best flowering climber for scent

Flowering climber - Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’

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Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ AGM – A glorious old Noisette rose, which produces a succession of richly scented blush-white blooms throughout summer and into autumn. 

It will grow on any aspect – even a north-facing wall, and the healthy, almost thornless foliage makes it suitable for archways. 

Grow in rich, well-drained soil in sheltered sun or semi-shade. 

Height: 20ft (6m). USDA 5-9 (UK H5). 

3. Best flowering climber for wildlife

Flowering climbers - Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’

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Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’ AGM - The ivory and gold flowers of this honeysuckle fill the air with scent on summer nights and attract hummingbirds and moths; then in fall, glossy red berries provide food for birds. 

This reliable deciduous climber will weave its way through the metal lattice of an archway in well-drained, moist soil in semi-shade. 

Height: 20ft (6m). USDA 5-9 (UK H6). 

4. Best flowering climber for large gardens

Wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’ - flowering climber

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Wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’ AGM – This beautiful Chinese wisteria is hung with racemes of blue-violet flowers (up to 12in/30cm long) that fill the air with incredible perfume in May and June. 

Suitable for a sheltered south or west-facing wall or facade, in moist, fertile, well-drained soil. 

Be wary of growing wisteria in states (such as Virginia) where W. sinensis is invasive, especially if you’re not prepared to prune wisteria biannually. 

Height: 30ft (9m). USDA 5-8 (UK H6).

5. Best flowering climber for scent

Flowering climber - Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

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Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ AGM – An oldie but a goodie... ‘Matucana’ is arguably the best sweet pea for perfume. Burying your nose in a bunch of the violet-purple and port-wine flowers is a joy in summer. 

Being a cut-and-come-again plant, the blooms must be constantly cut for the vase to maintain flower production. 

Sow this annual undercover now or in early spring and grow sweet peas throughout the summer. 

Height: 7ft (2m). USDA 2-11 (UK H3). 

6. Best flowering climber for semi-shade

Flowering climber - Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

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Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ AGM - A texensis clematis to provide a blast of color from July to October with its abundant hot-pink trumpet flowers. Plant in well-drained, moist neutral to alkaline soil in sheltered sun or semi-shade; provide trellis for it to twine around, and ensure the roots are shaded by other plants. 

In March, cut down to buds 8in (20cm) above the ground. 

Height: 7ft (2m). USDA 4-9 (UK H5).

7. Best flowering climber for color

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus - flowering climber

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Rhodochiton atrosanguineus AGM – This wonderful climber resembles a cloud of parasols floating through the air when it blooms in late summer and early fall. 

The rich-pink and wine flowers are paired with heart-shaped leaves, in moist, well-drained soil in sun. 

Enjoy outdoors in warm regions; in cold climates, grow in a conservatory or as an annual. 

Height: 10ft (3m). USDA 10-11 (UK H2). 

8. Best flowering climber for evening perfume

Jasminum officinale ‘Devon Cream’ - flowering climber

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 Jasminum officinale ‘Devon Cream’ (syn. ‘Clotted Cream’) – This jasmine creates heady heights with a mass of starry cream flowers that release spellbinding perfume on summer evenings. 

Grow jasmine in well-drained soil against a sheltered sunny wall. If necessary, trim after flowering, but avoid hard pruning as it can reduce flower power the following year. 

In cold areas, protect the base with horticultural fleece in winter. In warm regions, it is evergreen. 

Height: 16ft (5m). USDA 7-10 (UK H5).

9. Best flowering climber for eye-catching blooms

Flowering climber Clematis ‘Lambton Park’

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Clematis ‘Lambton Park’ AGM - In summer and early autumn, this tangutica clematis is hung with large lantern-shaped yellow flowers that look like lemon rind and smell of coconut. 

They are followed by silky silver seedheads that catch the autumn light. 

Grow in moist, well-drained soil. The bulk of the plant needs to climb in sun or semi-shade, but the roots must be in the cool shade of other plants. 

Height: 10ft (3m). USDA 5-9 (UK H6). 

10. Best flowering climber for training over shrubs

Flowering climber Tropaeolum speciosum

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Tropaeolum speciosum AGM – The flame nasturtium likes to scramble over mature shrubs, and when it flowers, during summer and fall, its red flowers transform them into burning bushes with vivid-scarlet flames. 

Excellent for livening up dull evergreens, such as boundary hedges. 

Grow nasturtium in moist, well-drained neutral to acid soil in sheltered sun or semi-shade; like a clematis, its feet need to be in shade. 

Height: 16ft (5m). USDA 8-10 (UK H5). 

What is the best flowering climber?

The best flowering climber really depends on your needs and the size of your backyard, but we think the Chinese wisteria comes out tops. Its beautiful blue-violet flowers can be up to 12in long, and give off a wonderful scent in May and June. Some wisteria are invasive, though, so do check before you plant.

What is the easiest flowering climber to grow

The Chinese wisteria is the easiest flowering climber to grow in our experience. A young plant may take a few years to bloom but after that, you will be rewarded with strong growth, generous flowering and foliage that lasts from late spring right through to early winter.