Climbing Plants Suitable for West Australian Conditions

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Climbing plants or creepers ‘creep’, spreading tendrils and branches ever out and up. They attach to walls, fences, pergolas, other trees or screens and serve a variety of purposes. They form a colourful backdrop for outdoor living areas, feature as a showy specimen or act as a reverse-cycle air conditioner.  The following are some of the species that are particularly suited to West Australian conditions.

Native Wisteria (Hardenbergia comptoniana) (Sarsaparilla Vine)
This is now available with white and light- and dark-purple flowers which are pea-like and form in clusters like bunches of grapes. It is a native plant from the Perth area and spreads quickly. It is also useful as a ground cover, spreading for 5 metres.

Waxflower (Hoya carnosa)
This is a dainty creeper and most popular of all the Hoyas. It is grown mainly in pots and makes a great indoor specimen. It also performs best in shady areas and under cover. It will flower from spring to autumn. Don’t be too keen to re-pot as being slightly pot-bound will encourage flowering.

New Guinea Creeper (Tecomanthe venusta)
The beautiful and unusual plant spreads to 10 metres or more and grows successfully in the Perth area. It is vigorous and large-growing with glossy, dark-green foliage. The flowers develop in large clusters on old, bare stems. Tubular flowers appear in spring and summer and are pink/mauve with cream inside. The best effect is achieved if the creeper is planted over an open pergola so the flowers can be viewed from below.

Guinea Flower (Hibbertia scandens)
Another Australian native which has bright yellow flowers, mainly in summer. The single buttercup blooms only last a few days but are immediately replaced by new ones. The foliage is an attractive lettuce-green.  Tough and showy, it is excellent as a screening plant or as a ground cover although it does tend to smother smaller plants. It is tough and fast spreading.

Golden Chalice (Solandra maxima) (Cup of Gold vine)
This native of Mexico and Central America has huge flowers, large foliage and is a sturdy grower as well. Any trellis or pergola will need to be strong to handle the weight of this vigorous climber. The chalice-shaped flowers have a diameter of 20cm and are golden yellow in colour with maroon stripes on the inside surfaces. The flowers are followed by red fruits. This is a dramatic plant which needs plenty of room. It has a rich scent. Its one drawback is that all parts are poisonous. It spreads from 6 to 10 metres.

Black Coral Pea (Kennedia nigricans)
This is a native Australian creeper with quirky yellow and black flowers which develop in spring and into midsummer. It almost grows while you watch and the foliage quickly makes an effective screen. Its grows naturally in sandy soils near the coast. It also draws nectar-feeding birds and will grow in shade or full sun. It spreads 4 to 6 metres.

Chapman River Climber (Billardiera ringens)
This is a native of the Geraldton area on the coast of Western Australia. Showy orange-yellow flowers are produced in a posy-like cluster. It is moderately vigorous and will grow in most soils.  It does not enjoy drying out for too long. It has a spread of about 3 metres.

Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides)
This stunning plant is an Australian native from the rainforests of New South Wales and Queensland. Once established, it will cope with drought conditions. The climber is woody with a twining habit and glossy evergreen foliage. The pink, bell-shaped flowers are 4 to 5cm wide with a deep purple-pink centre. It will grow to 5 metres with a coverage of 10 metres.

Climbing Bauhinia (Bauhinia kockiana)
When this tropical vine flowers through the warm season, the foliage virtually disappears. The flowers are a bright yellow-orange and make a dazzling display. Plant in the spring to enable it to become established before the summer. It reaches a height of 3 metres with a spread of 5 metres.

Golden Wonga Wonga (Pandorea ‘Wonga Gold’)
This has been developed from a native plant of eastern Australia. It is a favourite with nectar-eating birds and has lashing of large clusters of brilliant, burnt orange-gold bell flowers. The foliage is highly attractive with a glossy sheen to the leaves. Plant at 2 metre intervals to provide a quick cover. The plant spreads to 3 metres.

More about this author: Judy Evans

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