Espalier designs and advice for Climbing Hydrangea

OnlineHarvest(Ontario, 5)May 10, 2011


I would like to grow a climbing hydrangea in one of the following designs:

I'm leaning towards design A or B, both suitable? SITE: Pergola, design from post to post of one side, and DO NOT want it as a canopy, simply an elegant looking 'wall' of one of the sides of my pergola (the other 2 will have shear curtains, so a little getaway when done).

1. What is the best method to train a climbing hydrangea in this fashion? I was thinking of using heavy gauge wire and supporting it from post to post (attached to those screw in loops as opposed to right through each post). Will the wire look ugly? Should I use a makeshift wooden trellis until side shoots get longer? I do not want to make a permanent trellis in between the posts, and I imagibe wire would be essentially covered when the plant matures.

2. Space for site is kind of narrow, about 3 feet. The 2 posts of the pergola sit between a fence line and my seating area (can be moved a little farther). Since I would be training it, does it matter?

3. Is it better to get a younger C H, because as the branches get older, they get bigger and harder to guide? I wanted to buy one today that was about 5 feet in the pot but wasn't sure if more difficult to train.

4. The site is presently covered with decorative pebbles and the soil is clay. Any special requirments? (I basically remove a spades depth, and break up a spades depth and mix good stuff from nursery with native soil?). If I cover the base with same pebbles, issue?

FYI, from post to post is uner 10feet.

Let me know if you need more info.



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If this is the same site you describe in the discussion on clematis in that forum, I'm sorry to say that this is probably not going to work for you with a climbing hydrangea, either.

First, these get to be large, woody and eventually quite heavy vines. While they can be trained in an espaliered form, they will need some sort of very sturdy support to hold up the main stem or woody trunk - that bare opening between the two ends of the pergola is not gonna work. And they do not vine but cling to rough surfaces via rootlets or fine hair roots that form along the stems.....hard to attach to any sort of wire, although it can be used as sort of a guide. And they grow very slowly initially, taking several years before establishing and beginning to put on any serious vertical growth. And finally, once growth begins in earnest, the pruning necessary to keep the vine restrained to just the side of your pergola and along the espalier framework will remove any flowering potential.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:22PM
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