Garden Obelisks – The Basics

Garden Obelisks

Thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations built obelisks to serve as massive monuments to their great successes and achievements. Today, our use of obelisks has changed, shifting away from the public realm into the garden and the home as a sensible design choice, or useful implement. As obelisks are quite different today then they were in antiquity, let’s explore the uses for modern obelisks and the different characteristics that they possess. 

While there are a number of different ways that homeowners have used obelisks to decorate the interior of their homes, this article is instead primarily focused on garden obelisks. Garden obelisks can be best described as a 3-dimensional trellis, utilizing many of the same attributes that makes the trellis such a pivotal piece in the garden. These garden obelisks allow vines and other plant material to grow vertically and receive adequate support, while also creating a larger 3-dimensional experience for the visitor and the gardener. 

Garden Obelisks are often constructed of 3 or more sides that are more often than not built to come to a gradual peak at the top of this unique trellis. The sides of the trellis are designed with the express purpose of supporting vertical climbing plants that are a staple of the garden.

These sides are therefore often constructed with crossbars or other types of lattice work that climbs upwards. While these are the primary characteristics of a garden obelisk, there are numerous different designs and ways in which the trellis may be presented in the garden, making your options for the garden seemingly endless. 

Plants To Grow With Your Garden Obelisk

While you could certainly grow just about any plant around a garden obelisk, the size and height of the structure lends itself particularly well to growing larger climbing plants that are more apt to weigh down lighter forms of trellising. Since you won’t be growing small flowers on your garden obelisk, the following is a short list of some of the many possibilities to grow on your garden obelisk. 



Clematis is a mainstay in the gardening world, a beloved classic by gardeners throughout the world. However, this plant is quite large as the right plant can grow anywhere from 6 to 20 feet tall, making them a giant in nearly any garden. These plants are so large they will often take 2-3 years to grow, so patience is required when waiting for these plants to reach their full grandeur.

The size of clematis also necessitates the presence of a trellis to keep this plant growing vertically, obelisks are the perfect medium for the flowering plant as the multiple legs and durable nature will allow it to last with the plant as it grows to maturity. Likewise these plants come in a variety of different colors, ranging from purple to red, pink or white blooms.

Clematis will want to be planted in full to partial sunlight, so make sure that these plants are in as much sun as possible to increase the blooms the plant will produce throughout the summer months. 

Climbing Roses

Climbing Roses

Roses are a magnificent addition to the garden, while not quite topping out at the massive heights that clematis can grow to, these plants will consistently grow to be 6-8 feet tall when they have matured, with some even reaching heights of 12 feet.

Roses are perennially considered as royalty among all the different types of flowering plants and they will certainly bring a regal aura to your garden and to the obelisk that supports it. Consider all of the different colors that roses can come in when selecting your climbing rose, the classic rose red will certainly stick out, but don’t discount the beautiful white and pink hues that are available.

Despite the reputation as a delicate flower, climbing roses are durable plants, so as long as they are in partial sunshine and receiving adequate water, you will be set to grow these flowering plants for years!



Nasturtium is another wonderful plant to consider when you are planning out how to use your garden obelisk. These plants come in a wide variety of sizes ranging anywhere from 1 foot to 10 feet tall, so make sure that you get the right sized nasturtium plant if you are planning to grow it with the trellising support of an obelisk.

Nasturtium also comes in an explosive variety of colors, so consider the different colors that you might want to add to the garden along with the height of the plant itself. These plants will love the lattice work of an obelisk as they wrap themselves up and around the obelisk, so make sure that these plants are placed in direct sunlight and receive plenty of water to guarantee that they reach their ideal height and number of flower blossoms. 

Training Plants To Grow Up An Obelisk

While many of these vertically climbing plants or vines are apt to grow upwards, the gardener will have to work against gravity and the reality that plants may not always choose to entwine themselves up the latticework of a garden obelisk without some help.

Flowering plants like climbing roses will need some assistance when it comes time to grow up the obelisk. For many of these climbing plants, the process of training the vines and branches is relatively easy, though you will need to be a little careful with the more delicate vines and tendrils. 

First of all you will want to start by determining which vines or branches you will begin training up the obelisk. Some vines will likely begin growing on the obelisk themselves, however, there may be other larger branches that simply won’t grow up the trellising without your help.

Once you have determined which vines need assistance, you can begin by gently taking the plant and entwining, wrapping, or guiding the branch around the obelisk. Some more sturdy plants may only need to be guided to the obelisk, while other more flexible vines can be delicately wrapped.

Once you have completed this step, you can gently tie the branch to the obelisk, the vines will shortly be trained on how to grow up your obelisk helping you continue to garden vertically!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on obelisks and all the different plants and gardening methods that go along with them. Continue to explore more unique ways to garden such as the methods noted above to make your garden stand out among others.

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