Edible Climbing Plants | 17 Climbing Fruit & Vegetable Guide | 2020

Whether you’re working with a small growing area, or simply trying to maximise the potential of a larger one, utilising edible climbing plants can be a real game changer. 

Vertical gardening very literally opens up a whole new dimension of gardening potential for you to merrily exploit, with a ton of unique plants to explore in doing so.

Edible climbing plants can be used to produce ample yields of Fruits, Vegetables, Teas and even Medicinal crops. 

So, to make your foray into the vertical dimension that much easier – We’ve put together a master-list of edible climbing plants, with options here suitable for just about any country, climate or skill-level. 

Let’s take a look.


Edible Climbing Fruits


Grape

Edible Climbing Plants Grape

Grapes have had a bit of a resurgence as of late, with home-growers everywhere trying their hand with this wonderfully versatile edible climber.

The fruit of this edible climbing plant is versatile, healthy and nutritious, and perfectly suited to eating fresh, preserving or wine-making.

It’s also a beautiful ornamental climbing plant in its own right, growing vigorously in the right conditions and happy to be trained over buildings, up walls or otherwise. 

And although often thought of as a mediterranean plant, cultivars are available which will provide yield in colder, wetter climates. Have a look around and you’ll be surprised as just how versatile this terrific edible climber is.

Planting & Growing Advice

Plant in full sun with support present at planting, if possible in loose, free-draining soil. Once in, careful pruning is required to maintain a healthy ratio of old / new wood, as yield size relies heavily on this ratio.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Kiwi

Edible Climbing Plants Kiwi Fruit

A lesser thought of yet surprisingly versatile edible climbing plant, there are kiwi cultivars adapted to a whole range of different climates.

The kiwi is a vigorous plant, producing heavy crops in suitable conditions from around years three and four onwards. 

The fruits themselves are delicious and very, very healthy, perfect when eaten fresh or mixed into a fruit smoothie. If you haven’t had the chance to taste a kiwi fresh off the plant – I promise you, growing this edible climber is so worth it.

Planting & Growing Advice

Kiwi’s are vigorous plants and as such should be afforded the space needed to spread. Many cultivars are not self-fertile, and will need a pollinator partner to produce any substantial yields.

Plant in rich, fertile soil with good drainage properties. Sheltered positions are essential in less than ideal climates (such as us in the UK), so think carefully when picking your planting site.

Kiwi’s are equally suited to either pergola or espalier training, just make sure a structure is in place prior to planting in order to get your edible climber off to a good start. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Melon

Melon fruit growing on a vine

Perhaps not the first fruit you think of when considering your edible climbing plant choices, but believe it or not melon plants can be very successfully trained up trellises, over growing frames or otherwise. 

Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon – Are all well suited to growing as edible climbers, however do require a sturdy frame due to the eventual weight of their heavy yields of fantastic fruit. 

Fresh melon from the vine is out of this world and well worth the trouble to grow if your climate allows. 

In colder climates this edible climber may not be suitable for outdoor growing, although hardier varieties are available if you’d like to defy the odds, and of course indoor growing is certainly possible across most temperate regions. 

Planting & Growing Advice

Melons are hungry growers, and require very rich, moisture-retentive soil for best results. Pick a sunny, sheltered location if possible and amend soil prior to planting, training over your desired frame as new growth occurs. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry 


Passion Fruit

Edible Climbing Plants passion fruit flower climber

Passion Fruit, it can be a bit of a ‘Love it or Hate it’ proposition. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Passion Fruit. Give me Passion Fruit for breakfast everyday and I’d be a happy man.

Whether you’re a lover or a hater, this edible climbing plant makes for a fantastic addition to any garden. Its flowers make for a delightful ornamental addition in their own right, while pollinators go mad for their rich nectar throughout Late Spring and Early Summer. 

And that’s without mentioning the copious amounts of healthy, delicious fruit which these edible climbers are capable of producing, fruit which is prized by many cultures for its purported medicinal value.

Although more at home in a Tropical climate, the Passion Flower will grow well enough in colder, wetter climbs such as the UK. Give it a sheltered spot and plenty of TLC and you two should get on just fine together.

Planting & Growing Advice

Choose a spot with deep, rich, free-draining soil when positioning this edible climbing plant. Passion Fruit has a deep,meandering root-system which will need space to spread, and hates being left with wet feet. Prune back in early spring, allowing fruit to set on the new growth, and make sure to water through any extended droughts. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate


Dragon Fruit

Edible Climbing Plants Drgon fruit tree climber

Dragon Fruit – Also known as Cactus Fruit, Strawberry Pear or Pitaya – is an edible climbing plant in the Cactus family which traces its origins back to regions of Mexico and Central America.

On first sight you’d be forgiven for confusing this fruit for a misplaced prop from a Dr Who episode. Both the fruit and the Dragon Fruit plant itself are truly a unique sight to behold.

Nevertheless, the Dragon Fruit makes for a fantastic addition to any tropical garden. The flavour is quite neutral, with a similar texture to that of a Kiwi. The vibrant pink fruits make great additions to summer salads, yogurts and fruit salads.

Being a sub-tropical Cacti, you’ll struggle to grow these edible climbing plants in wetter, colder climates like that of the UK, however people have pulled it off through a mix of indoor-growing and copious TLC.

For readers in Central & Southern America, South-East Asia, Australia and even California however – There’s a spot in your garden just waiting for this wonderful edible climbing plant.

Planting & Growing Advice

Prepare a well-draining, slightly acidic soil, with a strong growing frame set-up in preparation for the heavy future vines of your Dragon Fruit. Water very sparingly if at all – Depending on your local climate – as Dragon Fruit’s are very susceptible to wet-feet, and prune back during Summer, taking no more than 1/3rd of your plant material away over the course of the season.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry 


Hops 

Edible Climbing Plants Hops vine

For all the home-brew lovers out there – What could make for a more rewarding gardening activity than growing your own Hops?

This edible climbing plant is a notoriously fussy grower, requiring frequent attention throughout the growing season. The pay-offs however, are more than worth the fuss.

The flowers of this edible climber are used in just about every beer on the market, adding stability, flavour and bittering to the brew. Despite their fussy nature they’re actually quite a hardy plant, thriving across a broad range of climates.

They prefer sheltered, sunny spots out of the wind, and will happily grow up to 20ft in a good year! Making them the ideal quick-fire climbing addition to any garden.

Planting & Growing Advice

Hops prefer a rich, free-draining soil, slightly on the acidic side. Ensure young plants do not dry out and weed-thoroughly around the base of your edible climber frequently to reduce competition.

If growing primarily for their harvest, cut back hard in Winter and re-fertilise generously, and you’ll be ready to go for next season.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Tomatoes

tomato vine

A rare annual addition to our list of edible climbing fruits, the Tomato has long been a favourite staple crop worldwide. 

Of course if you’re looking to turn the side of that ugly garage into a wall of climbing fruit, the Tomato isn’t the choice for you. But if you’re looking for a fabulous Tomato-themed return for minimal effort, this edible climber makes for a great addition to any productive garden. 

Tomatoes are great eaten fresh, dried or preserved in the form of chutneys and sauces, and there are a whole host of varieties out there with different flavour profiles, yield sizes and applications. 

Gardeners can spend a lifetime and not grow even a fraction of what’s on offer within this diverse family of edible climbing fruit, there really is such a wealth of options out there to choose from. 

Despite being a sub-tropical plant originally, the Tomato is surprisingly versatile, growing across a wide range of climates. Be sure to afford them as much sun and protection as possible in colder, wetter climbs, as otherwise they will likely struggle.

Planting & Growing Tips

Tomatoes are hungry growers, and as such should be planted in a rich, free-draining medium. Water well at first (climate depending) and reduce this as fruit begins to ripen, and be sure to ‘Stop’ your plant at the appropriate time to ensure your fruit gets the chance to reach its full potential. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Chayote

Edible Climbing vegetable Chayote

A beautiful plant rarely found outside of the Tropics, the Chayote vine produces a delicious pear-shaped fruit with a slight nutty taste. Very unusual, very tasty. 

This edible climbing fruit is a vigorous grower, reaching up to 50ft if left to its own devices. While it prefers the warmer weather of Tropical and Subtropical climates, success has been known in colder Temperate climbs. 

If you’re planning to grow this cracking edible climber in a colder region, be sure to place it in as sunny and shelter a spot as you can afford, and dress the base of the plant with a thick, free-draining mulch. 

Yields are heavy in its favoured climate, with little known about yield sizes in colder, wetter areas. Would be very well suited to indoor growing in a large greenhouse or productive conservatory. The Chayote is generally self-fertile. 

Planting & Growing Advice

Plant in full sun in as sheltered a position as possible, with a sturdy framework in place for it to climb. Soil should be kept hydrated without overloading – Little yet often is best with the Chayote. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate (?)


Edible Climbing Vegetables


Peas & Beans

Edible Climbing vegetables pea & beans

Two firm favourites worldwide and long time staple crops – This list wouldn’t be complete without Climbing Bean & Pea plants.

Grown as tremendously productive annuals, these edible climbing vegetables are well-suited to new gardeners looking to get their thumbs green due to their simple care requirements and large payoff. 

They can be susceptible to a variety of pests, so be sure to keep an eye and address as is necessary. Rotating your growing areas is a good idea to avoid these issues piling up over time, while Companion Planting can also be very effective once set up. 

Growing & Planting Tips

Provide a rich, well-draining growing medium, ideally in full sun (Partial shade is fine). Water generously throughout any dry spells, and insure your supports are in place early and up to the task.

Bamboo cane setups are most common and usually more than strong enough to support these terrific edible climbing plants.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Nasturtium

edible climbing plants nasturtium

Nasturtiums make for a great annual climber, versatile in both its growth habits and its potential uses.

This edible climbing plant is quite unique in that it almost thrives off neglect. Now, of course we don’t want to take this too far! 

But when planting out your Nasturtium you should look to use a poor growing medium, without too much organic matter present. This will help you maximise the blooms present rather than the foliage. 

What’s really great about this edible climber is that essentially the entirety of the plant is edible. The leaves, seeds and flowers all go great in fresh salads, lending its distinctive peppery zing to whatever dish it finds itself in. 

They’re also beautiful plants in their own right and highly attractive to local pollinators, providing a rich source of both pollen and nectar.  

Planting & Growing Tips

Prefers poor soil, however should be reasonably well-draining. Will thrive best in full-sun, with regular watering throughout the growing season. Dead-head flowers regularly to extend the lifespan of this terrific edible climbing plant.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Cucumber

cucumber plant edible climber

Another highly productive edible climbing vegetable – The Cucumber thrives best when given ample water and a prime sunny location to call home. 

Grown as an annual worldwide and known for their speedy, heavy yields, Cucumbers make for a versatile and healthy addition to any balanced diet. Fresh in salads, pickled or shredded into various recipes – The Cucumber is no one-trick pony.

Planting & Growing Advice

Plant in full sun in a rich, well-draining soil. Water consistently throughout the growing season, being sure to avoid your soil drying out. Fertilisation can lead to increased yields, however over-doing this can cause stunted fruit growth.

Harvest consistently once your Cucumbers have reached a desired size, trying not to let any get too big and take on a bitter flavour profile. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Squash

edible climbing plant squash

Among the most productive edible climbing plants, just one Squash plant can produce mountains of fresh food for you and your family over the course of the growing season.

We love this edible climber, but must admit that sometimes even we can’t keep up with the production.

But fear not, you won’t be forced into eating three meals of Squash a day out of fear of wastage – there are plenty of ways to preserve this versatile vegetable. 

We’d recommend freezing as a good means of storage, with a little prep required beforehand, or of course you could always pickle the excess Squash.

Planting & Growing Tips

Plant in a rich, well-draining medium, removing all competing weeds and placing down a thick layer of mulch around the base of your Squash plant. Water consistently, especially through the fruiting period, aiming to make sure your Squash’s roots aren’t at risk of drying out.  

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate | Continental


Malabar Spinach

edible climbing plant malabar spinach

An edible climbing plant found predominantly in Tropical regions, while Malabar Spinach isn’t technically a ‘True Spinach’, it certainly fills the same dietary gap. 

Generally grown as an Annual, Malabar Spinach prefers a hot, humid environment. In the kitchen it is used very similarly as Spinach, mixing perfectly with salads, stir-frys, curries and more. 

This edible climber does not tolerate any frost whatsoever, so if planning to grow this outside of the tropics be sure to keep this in mind. 

All in all, a terrific edible climbing alternative to our much-loved Spinach. 

Planting & Growing Tips

Doesn’t require a particularly rich soil, however must be free-draining, in full sun and well protected. Can be grown after the last frost across most regions, with harvest an ongoing process as and when the leaves are required.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate


Groundnuts

edible climbing plant groundnuts

An edible climber native to North America, the Groundnut – despite the name – is actually a member of the Legume family.

Grown for generations by Native American tribes and famous as one of the most valuable crops introduced to the first batches of settlers, Groundnuts are generally grown for their perennially forming tubers. 

Despite most of the focus falling on the underground bounty of the Groundnut, the majority of the plant is actually perfectly edible, including the leaves, flowers and beans. 

This versatility makes the groundnut a particularly generous edible climbing plant, lending itself to a ton of culinary applications. 

Planting & Growing Tips

In hotter climates, grow in partial shade with frequent watering. In cooler climates, provide a position in full-sun with ample protection, perhaps against a south-facing wall. Grown best as a perennial, provide ample trellised support to accommodate multi-year growth.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate


Luffa

luffa luffah gourd climbing vine

The humble Luffa, has there ever been a vegetable with two such disparate uses? 

Yes, believe it or not, the Luffa is a perfectly edible climbing plant. More than that, the Luffa has long been cultivated as a staple food crop amongst regions of Africa, India and Asia. 

Part of the Cucumber family, this edible climber grows on enormous vines, often reaching lengths of more than 40ft if left to their own devices.  

When used as a food it’s (Thankfully!) nothing like the dried form many of us know well. It has a silky texture, with a slightly sweet taste, and is often used in regional dishes such as stir-frys. 

Of course when dried it takes on a whole new appearance, becoming the wonderfully sustainable sponge we know and love. 

As a Tropical climber, the Luffa should be given plenty of protection if grown in less ideal conditions. They’re well suited to indoor growing, however can survive in warmer pockets of Temperate areas if given the appropriate tlc. 

Planting & Growing Tips

Plant in a rich soil, with a sunny, sheltered position. Plants can be heavy at maturity, so ensure your training structure is solid enough to take the weight. Something stronger than a bamboo frame is usually best. Harvest fruits as they ripen on the vine.

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate (?)


Jasmine

jasmine flower edible vegetable medicinal tea

Among the most beautiful edible climbing plants that you’ll find, flowers of the Jasmine plant have long been valued for a variety of culinary and medicinal uses.

These dainty white flowers erupt in spring, lasting well through summer and often into Autumn. They can be harvested and used to make tea, flavour a range of different dishes, distilled into an essential oil or even used directly in herbal based medicinal treatments. 

The plant itself is classed as a ‘Woody Climber’, and although it is most at home in a Tropical climate, varieties with certain levels of frost-resistance do exist. 

Overall, this wonderful edible climbing plant is worth its spot in any suitable outdoor space on ornamental grounds alone. We like to think of harvesting the fragrant blossoms with a myriad of uses as simply a substantial added bonus. 

Planting & Growing Tips

Plant in well-draining fertile soil, with full sun and good protection from the elements (Especially in colder climates). Many people prefer to grow Jasmine in pots in order to move indoors as needed, however this is a personal choice. Water freely throughout Spring and Summer, easing off through Autumn and Winter unless weather is exceptionally dry. 

Suitable Climates

Tropical | Dry | Temperate


Wrapping Things Up


And there we have it, a comprehensive overview of everything you’ll need to know before diving head first into the wonderful world of the edible climbing plants.

As always I hope this guide has been useful. If you’d like to be kept in the loop of whatever comes next from us here at the EcoGeeks then please feel free to subscribe below.

Have a great day.