Plant Profiles Native Australian Climbing Plants

Often, screening plants may be needed to hide an unwanted view or to give greater privacy. As well, there may be little room for planting bushy shrubs as screening plants.  The following Australian natives, if given a framework on which to climb, will quickly create a dense screen. Always ensure frames are strong enough for the plants they are to support.

Billardiera cymosa, also known as Sweet Apple-berry is a light climber which will grow as a small shrub if climbing support is not available. White, cream, green or pink to pale blue, tubular flowers are produced mainly from August to December. The pretty flowers are followed by oblong, reddish-green berries. If grown in a hot location, provide some protection for the root system by mulching. It is not affected by frost.

Another Billarideira species is Billardiera ringens, or Chapman Creeper, a native of Western Australia. This is another light climber with deep green leaves to 10cm long. The flowers are initially orange deepening to red and appear mainly from August to March. This is a bird-attracting climber which can also be grown amongst other plants.

Clematis aristate, or Austral Clematis, is a vigorous climber. The leaves of this species are divided into 3 leaflets with toothed margins. Creamy-white, star-like flowers of about 5cm diameter are produced from August to March. The flowers are followed by creamy-white, feathery seed heads. These grow best if the root area can be kept cool.  It is frost resistant.

Hardenbergia violacea is also known as False Sarsaparilla and/or Purple Coral-pea. It will climb or trail and has dark green leaves. Racemes of (usually) mauve-purple pea-flowers are produced from July to October. White and pink forms are available and there are also shrubby forms in cultivation. It is best in a well-drained position and is resistant to frost.

The Hibbertia scandens or Climbing Guinea-flower is a vigorous climber with long, trailing stems and shiny green leaves. Bright yellow, open-petalled flowers about 7cm diameter are produced almost throughout the year peaking from November to January. It can be slow-growing initially but is then usually vigorous. It can suffer from the frost but is suited to exposed coastal conditions.

Jasminum suavissimum or Sweet Jasmine is a very useful, slender climber. It will grow in a wide range of situations provided it has good drainage. It is a comparatively light climber which can also act as a groundcover. It has clusters of highly fragrant white flowers mainly during October to February. It responds well to pruning and is frost resistant.

Another strong climber that can act as a groundcover is Kennedia macrophylla, a native of Western Australia. It has large, bright red with yellow pea-flowers produced in racemes up to 15cm long mainly in November and December. It is an adaptable plant suited well-drained positions. It tolerates drought and is also very suited to areas with coastal exposure.

The Kennedia genus are all highly attractive to birds as well as being excellent climbers for domestic gardens. Kennedia nigricans or Black coral-pea is another Western Australian vigorous climber. It has pea-flowers of a deep purple-black with greenish-yellow. Flowering occurs mainly from September to November. As it is so vigorous it is excellent for large areas but does strangle smaller plants if allowed. It can also suffer frost damage.

Kennedia rubicunda or Dusky Coral-pea is a climber or groundcover and has pea flowers of dusky pink to dark red, mainly from October to January. It is excellent for coastal positions but can be frost tender. It is another vigorous creeper that will strangle less robust plants if allowed.

Sollya heterophylla or Bluebell Creeper is a hardy, relatively dense, bushy climber. Clusters of blue, pink or white bell-shaped flowers hang from branchlet tips mainly from September to February followed by elongated green to bluish fruits. It is a hardy species, adaptable to a wide range of conditions. It responds well to pruning.

There are a variety of Australian native climbers, from light twining varieties to more vigorous species.  Choose carefully and watch your living screen grow in no time, providing attractive foliage or colourful and long-lasting floral colour.