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Climber for tiled roof?

Is there a climber suitable for growing over a tiled roof whose growth will not damage the roof? I have a garage with a large, somewhat barren looking, pitched roof in the garden. The slopes are facing South and North. I assume I should not use any self-clinging climbers or those with negative phototropic growth like Ivy or Virginia creeper. Any ideas? Would Clematis montana work?

Comments (11)

  1. Grower

    Terry Samuel

    clematis Armandii Snowdrift or Appleblossom

  2. Grower


    Many thanks, Terry! Armandii looks great but I am not sure it would be happy in wet Wales - I have heard they dislike cold winds. But I will consider a Clematis. I suppose I would need some kind of wire support to enable it to climb up the slope...

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    I would have to add a small word of warning at this point - with almost any climber, even a non-clinger, there is always the danger of damage to the tiles.

    You would either have to commit yourself to cutting it back hard every year (to gutter height) to prevent it getting too massive, or take the decision to let it get on with it, and worry about it in ten years' time.

    Personally I would not go with Clematis armandii, they have a large proportion of dead brown leaves to nice live green ones, and without being able to prune it, you might get sick and tired of the sight of the dead parts!

    Maybe you would do better with something lightweight, such as sweet peas? Or even, dare I say it, runner beans? (a useful crop on the lower slopes!)

    Regarding the support issue, you could consider flinging a strip of pea netting from one side to the other, up and over, and securing it at the corners, as it were: this might give you an easy way to control rampant growth, as it would be fairly easy to untie it, then pull the whole thing towards the side where they are planted, in order to cut them back and replace the pea net, every few years.

    Sorry, not the best of suggestions but it's a bit of an unusual question!

  4. Grower


    Thanks for sharing your experience, Rachel - much appreciated. I suspected the idea was somewhat bonkers. There must be a reason why hardly anyone grows climbers on roofs. I guess the main problems must be the weight and how the plant alters water run-off. If the roof could withstand it, I would actually prefer to facilitate, rather than control rampant growth. Ideally, the climber would have to grow 3 metres to gutter height, then crawl up the shady slope for about 5 metres until it could then finally cascade down the sunny slope for yet another 5 metres. Sort of like a "house eaten by climber" look. The garage is only used as my potting shed, hence I am seriously tempted to unleash something big...

  5. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Ha ha, I like the idea of the plant eating the building! If that's what you want, get a Russian Vine (Polygonatum) and it will eat it in no time! Or Passionflower (Passiflora), the ordinary blue-flowered ones are pretty tough. Both of those, however, carry the risk of damaging the roof.

    Even if you were to clad the roof in large-mesh wooden trellis, there is still a risk that tendrils would work their way between the tiles.. I wouldn't worry too much about water run-off, if anything the greenery will slow down the transport of water, making it easier for the drains to cope. And you should have at least one water butt installed anyway??? (laughs)

    Have you thought about a sedum roof? Heavy, but very, very eco... plenty of information on the internet.

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    ...and when I said Russian Vine (Polygonatum) of course I meant (Fallopia baldschuanica)....

  7. Grower


    Ah yes, hacking back Fallopia growing on the pergola over our car park was one of my weekend chores as a child. Not sure I want to repeat the experience. ;-)

    Those sedum roofs are gorgeous!! I guess the existing tiled roof would have to be removed for that, which somehow seems like a waste. Maybe I'll see how the roof copes with a big C. montana on top and if it does get damaged in a couple of years I'll have the perfect excuse to re-roof with Sedum... :-)

    Many thanks, Rachel - lots to think about...

  8. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    You're welcome - and yes, you'd have to remove the tiles and install a waterproof membrane before adding sedum etc. It's not trivial, but providing you do the research properly re strength, slope (slippage) and maintenance, it should work. Something to think about over the next few years while enjoying your exuberant C. montana eating the garage!

  9. Grower

    Sonia Swain

    Hi, I live nr Welsh borders and it certainly can be very wet! I would smother the roof in repeat rambling rose Phyllis bide. It doesn't ball like other cabbage style or very double roses do in rain. I've used it in many local gardens and it looks spectacular, rural and romantic, and smothers itself in creamy pink and gold blooms. I have a Madame Alice Garnier growing over the roof of an old Georgian privy. I find roses don't get under the tiles like wisteria and clemati, jasmin etc. Still have to keep an eye on them though! Especially around guttering!

  10. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Nice suggestion, Sonia: I must admit, I hadn't thought to suggest a rose, as I somehow visualised the garage as being quite large. But you are quite right, a ramber will throw out long, lax growth, and once it can be persuaded to go up and over, it should look lovely!

  11. Grower


    Oooh, great idea! Thank you, Sonia. I am not a fan of bicolor roses, but have always coveted Rosa 'Lykkefund'. Though I am uncertain what sort of structure I could use to train it to and how I could fix this to the roof (I assume I would have to remove some tiles and purchase a kind of flashing to fix the structure to the risers). How do you secure your roses on the roof?

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