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How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Use twigs and branches to build an attractive, space-saving trellis

a finished trellis in a pot
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Connecticut gardener Thyrza Whittemore uses dark-gray beech branches in big containers to support colorful sweet peas (or try growing other tender twiners, such as morning glories or black-eyed Susan vine). While any hardwood cuttings can be used, a beech's flat branching structure creates a conveniently tidy form. Sweet peas can reach 6 to 8 feet in height, so size branches accordingly.


Steps // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot
1 ×

Put in the largest supports

 
Step One // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Put in the largest supports

gardener inserts four tall branches into pot filled with rich potting soil
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Insert four tall branches firmly around the edges of a container filled with rich potting soil. Beech branches are especially graceful, but any woody plants with lots of side branching—butterfly bushes, Japanese maples, birch, high-bush blueberries—can be used.

 
2 ×

Add smaller branches

 
Step Two // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Add smaller branches

gardener inserts smaller branches in between the 4 taller branches
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Insert smaller branches into the soil between each of the large ones. Any that are too short to meet at the top can be woven in. Make sure there are plenty of fine twigs for tendrils to grasp. Weave in or snip any that stick out.

 
3 ×

Tie the top

 
Step Three // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Tie the top

gardener ties branches of trellis together at the top
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Gather the tallest branches near their tops and tie them together with twine. Stand back and take a good look. Adjust the top if the whole structure leans. Tuck in any unruly branches or cut any outward-facing ones.

 
4 ×

Fill in

 
Step Four // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Fill in

lettuce is planted in the center of the pot and then filled with sweet pea vines
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Insert another round of little branches to fill in any holes. Tuck in, tie, or trim stray twigs on the inside, as needed. Plant sweet peas (or other vines). Thyrza also plants the center with lettuce, which fills the space quickly and can be harvested before the sweet peas take over.

 
5 ×

Enjoy the show

 
Step Five // How to Build a Branch Trellis in a Pot

Enjoy the show

finished trellis in a pot filled with sweet pea vines
Photo by Karen Bussolini

Placed in a vegetable bed, a container of sweet peas adds summer-long color even as the edibles planted around it come and go. To keep the pot looking tidy as the plants climb up, just tuck in any stray shoots. Water frequently. Thyrza mixes moisture-retaining granules into the soil to help keep her pot from drying out.

 
 
 

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