10 Best Vegetables to Grow Vertically

Last updated 05/19/2020 | |

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These are the top 10 vegetables that you can grow vertically, on a trellis or other support. Growing your vegetables "up" keeps the plants healthier, and allows you to grow more in a small space.

I would love to have a giant backyard garden full of endless vegetables. But in reality, I have a backyard that’s all swimming pool with three small raised beds in the corner.

swimming pool with raised bed garden boxes

So what’s a girl to do? Garden UP, of course!

There are many vegetables that you can grow vertically, on a trellis or other support. Growing your vegetables up keeps the plants healthier, and allows you to grow more in a small space.

But how do you know which vegetables will work on a trellis, and what kind of trellis to build or buy? I recommend Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects that Deliver More Yield in Less Space by Amy Andrychowicz from Get Busy Gardening.

vertical vegetables book in garden

Vertical Vegetables is a great new book that has planting advice as well as instructions for building your own plant supports. Amy shows us how to build a trellis, obelisk, fan trellis, and even a full-sized arbor!

After getting her book, I'm excited to grow lots of vegetables on trellises this year. Here are the 10 best vegetables to grow vertically, and what kind of structure is best for them.

10 Best Vegetables to Grow Vertically

best vegetables to grow vertically

Peas

Snow peas, snap peas, and shelling peas will happily grow up a simple wood or twine trellis. Pea vines have little tendrils that help them hold onto the supports, so it doesn’t take much work from you. We’re crazy about snow peas at our house, and the kids eat them right off the plant. Get my tips for growing snow peas.

Grows best on: fan trellis, pg. 99

snow peas growing up trellis

Pumpkins

While you’d have a hard time growing giant pumpkins vertically, smaller varieties like Mini Jack baby pumpkins will do just fine. You might need to make or buy a hammock to support the pumpkins as they grow. Here's how to grow great pumpkins.

Grows best on: classic obelisk, pg. 85

tiny pumpkins in hand

Cucumbers

I love growing slicing, pickling, and lemon cucumbers on a lean-to trellis like this. The cukes hang down and are easy to spot and harvest. Plus, you can plant lettuce, spinach, or other shade-loving veggies underneath.

Grows best on: lean-to or small arch trellis, pg. 81

 

small cucumber growing on a trellis

Jicama

We eat the jicama root, which grows underground. But the plant produces verrrry long vines, which will do best on a sturdy trellis. Learn how to grow jicama successfully.

Grows best on: large trellis, pg. 95

jicama vine and flower

Tomatoes

Everybody grows tomatoes in cages, but did you know that you can carefully prune them into a single vine for maximum yield? I learned this from the good folks at Wild Boar Farms, who grow some seriously amazing tomato varieties.

Tomatoes have to be started from seed really early in the year, so it’s usually easier to buy seedlings like these from your local nursery. You’ll want to secure the vine to the trellis with some natural jute twine.

Grows best on: pipe fan trellis, pg. 103

ripe tomatoes growing on trellis

Pole beans

Pole beans are probably the most popular vertical vegetable. Green beans, wax beans, and French filet beans are easy to grow and will zoom right up a sturdy trellis. Mine usually grow to over 8 feet high!

Grows best on: large trellis, pg. 95 or teepee fort, pg 77

green beans growing up trellis next to fence

Winter Squash

If you’re growing full-size winter squash, like spaghetti squash or delicata squash, you’ll need to make a hammock to support the squash as it grows. But smaller varieties like Honey Nut Butternut and Winter Acorn will do fine on a trellis without support.

Grows best on: copper trellis, pg. 107

Cantaloupe/Watermelon

Have you ever tried growing cantaloupe or watermelon vertically? Our friend has great success growing cantaloupe in a cylindrical trellis. He makes little hammocks for the melons to sit on as they grow. This only works for smaller melons, of course--your 20 pound watermelons will need to sit on the ground.

Grows best on: wire fencing shaped into a cylindrical trellis

cantaloupe growing up cylindrical trellis

Strawberries

Strawberries aren’t vining plants like most of the others listed here. But they have shallow roots, and can easily be grown on a hanging planter like this one. Here are my secrets for growing amazing strawberries.

Grows best on: antique ladder hanging planter, pg. 127

strawberries growing vertically

Gourds

Luffa or birdhouse gourds usually grow on looooong vines, and training them up a trellis is the best way to keep them contained. Otherwise, the vines will go everywhere--luffa vines can grow up to 30’ long! Learn how to grow and harvest luffa with my friends at Little Sprouts Learning.

Grows best on: large trellis, pg. 95

green birdhouse gourds on white tablecloth

Ready to get started?

Me too! Grab your copy of Vertical Vegetables, and I'll meet you out in the garden. 🙂

best vegetables to grow on a trellis

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Pam

Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!

Pam

Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

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