Q: Dear Mr. Crowther, I hope you do not mind me contacting you directly but I was hoping that you might be able to give me some gardening advice. I appreciate that you have now moved onto other things since the days of your garden centre so perhaps this might not be possible.I have a south-facing fence on which I would like to grow a honeysuckle and/or passion flower. Unfortunately, there is only a concrete path on my side of the fence so any plants would have to be container grown. Would this be possible if I was prepared to take trouble with feeding etc? If so, could you please advise on the following: –1) Would I be restricted to particular varieties that were not too vigorous? 2) How big would the containers need to be? (They can’t be too big or they will block the path). 3) What soil/compost should I use? 4) What feeding? 5) Would over wintering be a problem? 6) Is this the wrong time of year to plant them? 7) Are there any varieties you could suggest? 8) If honeysuckle and/or passion flower are not suitable for container growing, are there any other climbing plants that could be container grown? I would prefer ones that have attractive flowers rather than just foliage. 9) How should I prune whatever you might suggest? Apologies for the lengthy list but any comments would be greatly appreciated. I should also like to thank you for the helpful advice you have given in the past. Kind Regards, Peter
A: Dear Peter, It is possible to grow climbers in containers and in a south facing position you could grow Honeysuckle and Passionflowers as well as other climbers including Clematis, Jasmine and even Campsis or Wisteria. As you point out the problem is the size of containers required. They would not survive in anything smaller than a 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep container. Ideally it should be about 30 inches. The compost needed would be a mix of John Innes No. 3 and multi-purpose compost (half and half) due to them being in pots they would need regular feeding, a slow release fertilizer would be adequate with a monthly top up of a liquid seaweed based fertilizer. Don’t forget these containers will need very regular watering, however taking care not to overwater but keep moist at all times. Over wintering plants in containers is only a problem if weather is very extreme and usually the best method is to wrap the tubs or containers with bubble wrap to protect the outside roots. It is always best that the containers are held slightly off the ground in winter to allow free draining. Most of these climbers would be pruned in spring unless you purchase an earlier flowering Clematis. Ken C.