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Hi, I'm pretty new to gardening. My husband bought a climbing petiolaris hydrangea last year. He has placed it against our boundary fence. It seems to be quite healthy but got slightly battered by the winds late last year and the beginning of this year. It seems to be bending over slightly. I know they are meant to start clinging to walls and fences but I don't really see this happening yet. It's still tied to the stake it was sold with which I think is holding it up slightly. But could I encourage it to cling to the fence? Maybe with wire/tights and hooks? Should I remove the stake and the plastic holding it together or leave it. It's placed in the middle of the fence so ideally I would like to encourage it to cover both sides. I know they grow quite big so am a little concerned as to whether I should move my newly planted red robin bush and two lemon cypress bushes from one of the corners. I've added a photo of my plant so you can get an idea.


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They don't cling until they get a bit bigger. I've used something like duck tape to fasten it back. Not pretty but it works. I'd leave the stake in place for now.
You are right, they get huge and very heavy - one will cover the side of a house in time, and will last longer than the fence.

Don't want to depress you but if your other two shrubs are planted in that narrow border I would certainly move them. They need room to grow widthways as well as upwards. It is so tempting to put in little shrubs that look pretty now but do consider what space they will need in another 5-10 years. It often tells you on the label. Photinia RedRobin left unpruned can achieve a height and width of at least 12 feet and even severely clipped it will need to be a foot at the very least away from the fence.

When you are new to gardening it is very common to begin with a narrow border but as you go on you find wider borders look a lot better and are better for the plants too. A lot of us on Goy are often stealing a bit more lawn to widen their borders...

Hope this doesn't depress you but its better to know now than wait until the pants are settled and harder to move.

28 Apr, 2016


Hi, welcome to GoY, I agree with Steragram, the border is too narrow for shrubs, I think a border should have a minimum depth of 4ft and ideally more,so that you can have shrubs and herbaceous perennials, topped up with some bedding plants, spring flowering bulbs etc, Derek.

28 Apr, 2016


Hi from me too and welcome to GOY. I know the above seems disheartening and Derek suggests a wide border, but perhaps you don't have the room for one.
I had one of these on the house we moved into and it had been planted hard up against the brickwork - which is a no-no for any plant as it has no root room, no water in the shelter of the wall and might damage footings! Anyway the one we had grew and romped away, covered the wall and part of the roof - we tried to save it when the building was knocked down but it didn't survive. What I was getting round to was if you are prepared to accept that eventually it will outgrow it's space and are prepared to prune it to keep it in bounds, leave it where it is. Whatever you do, don't try and move it now while it is in full growth. Ours had all the porous bits of the brickwork to cling to, whereas a fence might not be so accommodating, staples and wire or even a bit of tree tie type stuff (I use old wellie boots cut in strips) nailed either side across the stem will hold it in place.

28 Apr, 2016


Thank you all for your feedback. I would love to have a larger border but with two boys and their goal and football playing and along with a wooden swing I don't have the room really. If I was able to afford to add a bit more border would I still need to move the red robin away from the fence? I will definitely move my lemon cypress bushes. With regards to the climbing hydrangea. Should I just pin back the stalk/ trunk or the new stems?
I also have a large 6ft unsightly wall, where I have sight of neighbours houses. I was thinking about half standard red robin trees x2. Should I go this route? Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you again

29 Apr, 2016


Shrubs (non-climbers) should never be planted up against a fence. If you do, be prepared for damage to the fence in years to come, and unhappy and sad-looking plants. You need to check how wide they will eventually get, and then plant accordingly (ie. half the eventual width away from the fence). If you don't have room for a wide border, then you don't have room for shrubs.

Climbers should be planted at least a foot away from the base of a fence or wall, to ensure that they get the benefit of rainfall.

Re. your unsightly wall: Not sure why you're considering growing standard trees as you'll still be able to see the wall, especially when the trees get taller (which they will). No-one can advise you what to grow to hide it, by the way, without knowing what type of soil you have, what the aspect is (north, south, east, west), and how much sun it gets.

29 Apr, 2016


You can only put staples into the fence if it is yours, so you need to know whether it belongs to you or your neighbour. The stems will develop their own suckers to cling on with so you need to keep them in contact with the fence. I've never seen one growing on a wooden fence so can't guarantee that the suckers will stick. And because the fence life is shorter than the plant's it may well need removing before it reaches maturity.

It might have been better to plant the hydrangea against the brick wall where it could cling on more easily. You could still move it if its newly planted. Clematis would be a better choice for the fence.

Yes you should still move the red robin. it wouldn't be able to develop its proper shape and when it gets bigger it may damage the fence.

So sorry to sound negative - don't mean to depress you!
There's always somebody on here you can sound out before making decisions if you want to.

What to plant by your wall also depends on whether you want to hide the wall or increase the height of your privacy, as well as how much sun it gets.

29 Apr, 2016


Thank you again. If I moved the climbing hydrangea to the wall, can I have anything growing in the border with it? At the moment I have a hebe and candytuft which is growing nicely there? My garden is a SW facing garden.

2 May, 2016


Yes, both will be OK. Best not to put shrubs very close to the root of the hydrangea where the roots will be in competition, but bulbs and smaller perennials should be fine. Plant your hebe at least 6 inches from the wall, preferably a foot.

As you garden faces SW that means the hydrangea will be facing NE, and it does well on a north wall. As it won't get the sun until later in the afternoon bear this in mind when choosing perennials for that border - many will be happy with sun for part of the day.

2 May, 2016

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