Climbing plants like ivy and trumpet vines have gotten a bad rap. They’ve been said to ruin the exterior of your home, causing damage to your siding, roof and gutters. But is this always the case? It turns out, there are a number of factors to consider before you can come to a conclusion. Take a look at why climbing plants aren’t necessarily as bad for your house as they say, and how you can make them work.
Location, Location, Location
When it comes down to it, it’s all about location. Location, and what the exterior of your home is made of play a major part in whether you can use climbing plants on your home. Climbing plants can cause issues on houses with wood siding that are situated in damp areas. Certain plants, such as Boston ivy are able to go up and under the wood due to their adhesive pads, trapping in moisture and eventually leading to rot.
However, if you live in a location with good sun exposure and the climbing plant is growing on masonry, your home will be fine. As long as the conditions are right, it’s totally fine to have climbing plants on your facade.
Benefits of Climbing Plants
First of all, a house covered in climbing plants like English ivy is extremely picturesque. Twisting, twining and twirling, they add visual interest to any home. Not only that, ivy has been found to reduce the threat of freeze-thaw, heating and cooling, and wetting and drying due to its regulation of the wall surface microclimate.
Flowering vines like morning glory also attract pollinators like birds and insects. Morning glory specifically is a magnet for native butterflies and hummingbirds.
Risks of Climbing Plants
Not all climbing plants are bad for your home, but there are certain plants that are quite aggressive. The vines on these plants tend to climb up houses by sticky aerial roots or twining tendrils. The ones with “suckers” anchor themselves to your walls, and if you don’t routinely check up on them, they can cause serious structural problems.
Vines with twining tendrils can damage your gutters, roof, and windows, wrapping around anything they can. And as the tendrils grow bigger, they can warp weak surfaces. Do your research to find out which climbing plants have adhesive pads and twining tendrils.
If you love the look of climbing plants, but aren’t situated in the right area or don’t want to risk any damage, there are other options you can consider to get the look. Put up a support set 6 to 8 inches away from your home’s siding for proper air circulation. This can be a trellis, lattice, metal grids or mesh, strong wires, or even string. Certain climbing plants are heavier and denser than others, so use this to guide your choice of support set.
Even though they’re growing on support, you’ll need to train and trim the vines. Keep them cut back away from any gutters and shingles, and tie or cut back and tendrils that are heading towards your home’s siding. If any vines start growing out wildly from the support, you’ll want to cut too.
If you’re thinking about adding climbing plants to your home, the best thing to do is visit your local gardening shop to find the best plants for your home and your location!