Plant lovers have an exhaustive range to choose from climbers as many among them produce beautiful blooms, writes M.M.Hussain

Climbers offer a tough choice for plant lovers with their wide array of varieties, many among them producing beautiful blooms. One has more opportunity of getting lost in the exhaustive range that these creeping, crawling, trailing, and climbing greenies lay, than in that offered by any vertically growing kind.

Some very good flowering varieties of medium growth include plants like Pseudocalymma alliaceum (Adenocalymma - Garlic vine), Allamanda grandiflora, Allamanda purpurea, Allamanda New Hybrids (Red, Peach, Light Yellow), Clerodendrum splendens, Cryptostegia grandiflora, Echitis caryophyllatis, Hiptage madablota, Jasminum officinale, Jasminum jasminoides, and Pandorea jasminoides (see the infobox for more varieties).

All these are good for training over a wall or a structure, trellis or a big arch. Most of them need to be trained and kept a watch upon for proper growth. C. splendens or Quisqualis indica is a heavy medium growing creeper which needs to be tied and trained regularly because it does not have Tendrils, Hooks or Roots to have a hold and grow. As the plant becomes heavier by the day forming woody branches, more support will be required lest it should collapse. Such climbers need to be tied to a good structure of wire mesh or a network of wires, at regular intervals.

Pseudocalymma alliaceum, commonly known as Garlic vine, produces garlic-like smell which is not liked by many. However, it is not strong or significant, and can only be smelt by crushing the branch or leaf of the plant. Allamanda's come in many colours these days thanks to the introduction of new cultivars. They flower round the year. Plants like Echitis caryophyllatis, Hiptage madablota, Jasminum officinale, and Jasminum jasminoides are highly fragrant and flower almost all the year. Thunbergia grandiflora, Thunbergia. g. Alba, Thunbergia mysorensis, and Thunbergia alata are a few fast growing climbers.

Vernonia elaeagnifolia (Brindavan Creeper) is another fast growing climber that can be trained over walls and porticos as trailer, and trimmed at a particular length. It is grown only for its foliage, which is so thick and compact in its fall that even dust cannot penetrate it.

Pyrostegia venusta is a flowering climber, and grows very fast. It blooms during winter alone, but the blooms last for more than two months during which the whole plant looks orange-dyed.

Even Ipomoea Candy King (Stictocardia tiliifolia) flowers twice a year only, but has reddish large flowers and large attractive leaves. Antigonon leptopus is a wild and fast growing climber seen at many places. Being a deep tuberous climber, it is very difficult to propagate. The flowers are bouquet-like and very attractive. Ipomoea tuberosa (Wood Rose) is a fast growing climber with yellow coloured inflorescence in bunches. After their life, the flowers will turn into woody fruit which appear like roses made of wood, hence the name Wood Rose.

Ipomoea palmata (morning glory) is also a very fast growing climber but very heavy when compared to all the others.

It is soft-stemmed and flowers round the year. This is a good cover for high fences and one can see it very often over the fences of sports grounds. Beaumontia grandiflora has a heavy woody stem and attractive large leaves. Even the flowers are fragrant and off-white in colour.

Ficus pumila repens, which sticks its roots through walls, must be planted adjacent to a wall in a pit filled with good compost. The tiny branches should be initially stuck to the wall with an adhesive tape so that they will throw out roots sooner. Otherwise, a great amount of time lapses before it gets a hold on its own.

The plant can be sprayed with water once a week so that the moisture is absorbed by the tiny roots. Pruning once in a while will keep the leaf-size small. Branches sticking to the wall produce smaller leaves, but the protruding ones may produce larger leaves and fig-like fruits which gives a shabby look.

Mandevilla is a climber newly introduced into market, and blooms in Red, Pink, and White in single as well as double flowers.

Medium growing climbers with inflorescence all through the year, they are good for pots as well.

They can be trained over arches or lamp-posts or on any other well designed structure. One more climber Pentalinon luteum (Mandevilla lutea – Yellow Mandevilla) produces bright yellow flowers round the year and has shiny, attractive foliage. This is a medium growing climber and good for pots.

(More on climbers next week)

(The author is a well-known nurseryman in Hyderabad, and available at plantsland@hotmail.com)