Training Plants Up Porch Railings: Learn About Growing Vines On Railings
By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Growing vines on railings is a fun way to garden on yourporch, deck, or balcony. The contrast between the plants and iron or woodrailings can be lovely. It’s a great way to brighten up your outdoor space oreven add some privacy with vines as a barrier.
Training Plants up Porch Railings
Growing plants along a porch railing can be good way to conserve space in areas where this may be limited. While there are a number of suitable vines to choose from, some are better than others.
Many vining plants will climb up and cling to your porch railing without much assistance, while others need a little help. To ensure that your chosen plant will cling vigorously, it’s a good idea to do some training initially and even as it grows.
You’ll want to train your vines on a handrail or on railings by situating the young vines strategically. Some of these you may be able to just wrap around a railing. With others, however, it may be necessary to use a little string or twine to attach it firmly to the railing or handrail.
Your vining plants can be in containers along the bottom of the railing or planted in the ground around the edge of a porch. Give them about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 cm.) of space between where you plant the roots and the edge of the railing, porch, or balcony.
Ideas for Plants for Porch Rails
Any plant that grows as a vine would make a good choice forusing balcony railing support or a porch railing. Just be sure that the plantsyou select will do well in your climate, soil type, and in the amount of sun availableon or next to your porch or balcony.
- Indeterminate tomatoes. If you have a nice sunny spot on your porch, grow tomatoes. Indeterminate tomatoes are those varieties that keep growing on a vine until the season ends. They’ll do well in the ground and in a container near the porch where the vines can grow along the rails.
- Runner beans and peas. For another edible vine, try peas and pole beans. They are easy to grow and will add to your vegetable harvest.
- Star jasmine. In a warmer climate, choose this evergreen vine to provide greenery year round as well as beautifully-scented flowers in spring. In some areas, blooms of star jasmine will last longer.
- Morning glory. This pretty vining plant produces trumpet-shaped flowers in blue, white, or pink, that only open in the daytime. Morning glory flowers are striking and attract butterflies. This is an annual.
- Trumpet honeysuckle. The flowers of trumpet honeysuckle (aka coral honeysuckle) will also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The tube-shaped orange flowers are delicate and smell sweet.
- Ivy. For classic, elegant greenery, it’s hard to beat ivy. There are several varieties to choose from, like English ivy or Boston ivy, that will provide good coverage for large spaces or year-round green foliage.
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Read more about Ornamental Vines General Care
Potted Plants That Will Weave Through Balcony Railings
Trailing plants with supple branches can transform a balcony from a utilitarian area to an extension of your personal space, woven through balcony railings. Foliage provides screening for privacy, a buffer against sun and wind, and a more beautiful frame through which to view the world. For an added bonus, choose plants offering flowers for fragrance and picking or edible parts.
All you need is a ledge.* Plant Traps turn that ledge beyond the railing into the perfect shelf for a container garden.
Installing Plant Traps takes seconds. Slide them out, place your plants on the shelf and drive in the 12" stake to secure them. It’s that easy!
More space. Less mess. Bigger plants. Better views. Use one for flowerpots or two in tandem to support longer flower boxes. Each trap supports 35 lbs of weight.
*To Support Plant Traps the ledge of your floor should measure 4” or more beyond the bottom horizontal rail.
Tips for Growing Vegetables in Pots On Your Balcony
- Do not use soil from the ground when growing in containers, as it is typically heavy and may cause drainage issues, and it may contain pests or soil-borne diseases that could hurt your crops. Instead, use potting soil, preferably potting soil that is specifically formulated for vegetables. A top of the line, organic potting soil is ideal, and feel free to mix in some well-rotted compost, or worm castings to increase the organic matter and improve water retention and drainage.
- Make sure that your balcony gets plenty of sunlight, as the majority of vegetables and herbs enjoy at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If your balcony or patio area doesn’t get that much sun, you will need to adjust what you are growing in that area. A handful of root vegetables, like carrots and radishes, as well as leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale, only need four to six hours of sunlight to thrive. Look for a spot on the porch, deck, or driveway area that does get eight hours of sun for your other vegetables and herbs that thrive in full sun conditions.
- Make sure that you have a water source nearby, as vegetables are very thirsty plants and they will need a lot of water during the growing season to develop plenty of fruit for harvests. Having a water source nearby will keep you from having to lug watering cans full of water for long distances to keep your plants hydrated.
- Take a look above the location where you are planning on keeping your containers for your vegetable garden and try to avoid placing them under the awning of your balcony or right up against the house. Making sure your plants have access to rainfall can cut a lot of work out of caring for your plants, as you won’t need to manually water them after a heavy rain, as long as they are in a position where they are receiving that rainfall whenever it comes along.
- Pick containers that are large enough to support the root systems of the plants that you are wanting to grow and large enough so that the plants have plenty of room to grow to full size without needing to be repotted. Make sure that the containers that you choose have ample drainage. Here is a quick guide to selecting the right size pots for the vegetables and herbs that you want to grow:
One to two gallon containers (for small plants) – Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Other plants that work for one to two gallon containers include grape and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and individual herb plants.
Five to eight gallon containers (for medium plants) – Most brassicas fit into this size container, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as medium-sized tomato plants, okra, and bush-style cucumber plants.
Eight to ten gallon containers (for large plants) – Most large vegetables will fit into these size containers, including peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatillos, large tomatoes, and bush type winter squash varieties.
Ten to fifteen gallon containers (for extra large plants) – These extra large containers will suffice for individual plants of extra large tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and artichokes.
- Good companion plants for pairing up veggies in extra large containers or for growing near to each other in separate containers:
- Plant beans with carrots and squash, or pair beans with eggplants.
- Plant tomatoes with basil, garlic, and onions.
- Pair lettuce with herb plants like basil, rosemary, and thyme.
- Plant spinach with chard and onions.
- Avoid planting these plants near one another, even in separate containers:
- Keep bean plants away from onion and garlic.
- Keep carrots away from dill or fennel.
- Don’t plant tomatoes near squash or potatoes.
- Don’t plant onions near beans or peas.
Starting your own vegetable garden on your balcony or patio space is fun and easy. Growing vegetables in containers can be nearly as prolific as growing them directly in the ground, and container gardening can drastically reduce issues with pests and soil-borne diseases. If you have a balcony or patio with ample space and plenty of sunlight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start your own container garden today.