If you have an arbor in your garden, it’s natural to want to add to its beauty, shade, or usefulness by growing flowers, fruit, or vegetables along the sides.
So, what plants should you put on an arbor? Some good flowering plants for an arbor include Bougainvillea, Clematis, Ivy, Roses, and Wisteria. Some good fruiting plants for an arbor include Blackberries, Raspberries, Grapes, and Kiwi. Some good vegetables for an arbor include Beans, Cucumbers, Squash, and Tomatoes.
Of course, you will have to decide if you want an elegant appearance, a sweet snack, or vegetables for dinner (maybe all 3!) before you decide what to plant on your arbor.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the plants you might grow up and along the sides of an arbor.
Let’s get started.
What To Plant On An Arbor
The climbing plants you can use to decorate an arbor include flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Look for tall plants or vines that will naturally climb the arbor as they grow.
When you decide what to plant on your arbor, it is important to make the best use of the space available to you.
Depending on what you want, you could use an arbor to grow:
- Flowers – this will beautify your garden and attract bees or other pollinators to your yard.
- Fruit – these will provide you with a sweet snack, along with flowers for part of the season.
- Vegetables – these will help you to save on groceries while growing your favorites – organically.
Let’s take a closer look at each category, along with some great options for each one.
Flowers To Plant On An Arbor
There are some vines and climbing plants with beautiful flowers you can grow on an arbor. Here are just a few for you to try.
This climbing ornamental plant is thorny, but the show it puts on is worthwhile! It comes in tree, bush, and vine forms.
Bougainvillea boasts flowers that come in various brilliant colors, including:
A bougainvillea can grow from 3 to 40 feet (1 to 12 meters) tall. So, if you choose this flowering plant, make sure that your arbor is tall enough, and be prepared to do some pruning on occasion!
This is another flowering plant that climbs up and up towards the sun. In fact, it prefers full sun, so make sure the arbor is not blocked by building or trees if you want to grow it.
Clematis has flowers in various colors, including:
Clematis comes in both vine and shrub varieties. So, do your homework and choose a tall vining variety for your arbor, rather than a shrub variety.
Also remember that Clematis comes in 3 basic groups, depending on when they flower:
- Group 1 (Spring Bloomers)
- Group 2 (Repeat Bloomers)
- Group 3 (Summer/Fall Bloomers)
You can strategically choose a few different types to make sure you always have flowers in spring, summer, and fall!
This is an evergreen vine that climbs garden fences or poles and also creeps along the ground. Put it at the base of your arbor to encourage climbing.
With the proper support from a strong arbor, ivy can grow to heights 100 feet (30 meters) or more above the ground! Ivy flowers are greenish-yellow, and the plant also produces a greenish-black berry.
Pollinators love ivy flowers, so plant some if you want to encourage bees to come and help pollinate the rest of your garden.
A perennial favorite, this flowering plant can grow up to 20 feet tall. It also has thorns, which is the price you must pay in exchange for the beautiful flowers that come in many colors, including:
Surprisingly, this flowering plant is a member in the legume family (which includes beans, peanuts, and alfalfa).
Wisteria displays flowers in colors such as:
Wisteria is also a champion climber. It can reach heights of up to 66 feet (20 meters) and a width of up to 33 feet (10 meters). You might have trouble finding or building an arbor that tall, so get out the pruning shears to keep this plant looking neat!
Fruit To Plant On An Arbor
Fruiting plants are a great way to get a natural, healthy dessert right in your garden. As an added bonus, fruiting plants provide flowers to attract pollinators to your yard.
Here are a few great choices for climbing fruits to plant on your arbor.
Blackberries are an excellent choice if you want to grow fruit on an arbor. There are lots of varieties available, each of which produces tall, strong canes.
The canes can grow 7 feet or taller, but the Louisiana State University suggests pruning them back at 3 to 4 feet tall. There are also lots of thornless blackberry varieties available – you can learn more here.
Blackberry plants produce attractive flowers with white and pink coloring, which produce fruit if pollination occurs.
Blackberries are dark and tart, and they make a great jam or syrup.
Grapes are a great choice for growing on an arbor if you like to make your own jelly, juice, wine, or even raisins. You also have the option to grow grapes just to enjoy the bunches of fresh fruit as they ripen underneath the shade of your arbor.
These are truly the champions of all climbing fruit plants. Kiwi vines can reach heights of up to 40 feet tall.
That means they could climb all the way up to the top of a 10-foot arbor, cross the roof, work their way back down the other side, and keep going! The thick leaves will provide lots of shade, making them a great choice if you want to get away from the sun under your arbor.
Of course, you can also enjoy the kiwi fruit (it is technically a berry) if you like!
Raspberries are a good companion for blackberries if you want to grow fruit on your arbor. Raspberry canes can grow 4 to 8 feet tall, but you can prune them to be shorter if you wish.
Raspberries are sweet and tart, and the fruit can come in various colors, including:
Different types of raspberries also vary in terms of fruit size, cold tolerance, disease resistance, and harvest time. You can learn more about raspberries and their various colors here.
Some raspberries can produce fruit twice in a season (in both summer and fall). You can learn more about these everbearing raspberries here.
*Note: the “Joan J” raspberry variety boasts the distinction of being both thornless and everbearing
Vegetables To Plant On An Arbor
Climbing vegetables on an arbor will provide vitamin-rich food for your family. As an added bonus, the provide shade for your patio – and their flowers might even attract pollinators to your yard!
Here are a few good climbing vegetables to plant on an arbor.
Beans grow very tall with lush, green leaves and vines that will add majesty to your arbor. Remember that green beans come in both pole (tall climbing) and bush (wide sprawling) varieties.
Choose pole beans if you want to plant on an arbor. The vines on pole beans will grow very tall, climbing right up an arbor.
As an added bonus, they also produce plenty of green beans, which offers a fresh and healthy source of protein to go with a meal.
Keep picking green beans and they will continue producing for a long time!
Cucumber vines will produce tall vines with large leaves and flowers. They are a wonderful choice for an arbor due to their beauty and versatility – and also their tendency to climb without being directed on where to go.
You can grow pickling cucumbers if you want to make your own pickles. You can also grow slicing cucumbers, which make a healthy addition to garden salads with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots.
Squash is another great choice if you want a vegetable plant that grows up along the sides of an arbor. They send out tendrils that help them climb, and they have large flowers you cannot miss (and you won’t want to!)
Even better: steamed summer squash is delicious (but not too heavy) as part of a summer meal on a hot day, served under the shade of your arbor.
Tomatoes are easily one of the most popular crops in gardens around the world – and for good reason. In addition to their edible and delicious fruit, tomato vines will climb (some up to 10 feet with the proper support, such as an arbor).
The fruit itself is versatile, and you can tomatoes in sauces, chili, pizza, salads, and other dishes. You can also eat them fresh from the vine, either plain or with a hint of salt and pepper.
If you grow tomatoes with squash, cucumbers, and beans on your arbor, you will be well on your way to healthy and delicious meals in the summer.
Remember that tomatoes come in two varieties:
- Determinate – these tend to stay shorter and produce a harvest within a short time window. You can find some determinate tomato varieties here.
- Indeterminate – these grow taller and produce a harvest over a longer time period. You can find some indeterminate tomato varieties here.
Now you know what you can plant on an arbor and when you might choose each option.
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