Best evergreen climbing plants -
our top ten
One of the most sought-after groups of plants in our mailbox, is
evergreen climbing plants - and even more sought-after is flowering
evergreen climbing plants.
We often get queries about a colourful berried climber or sometimes
about the bright blue flowers on a climbing shrub against a wall. These
inevitably come down to being Pyracanthas - firethorns - in the case of
the berrying shrub, and Ceanothus - Californian Lilac - in the case of
the blue flowered climber.
Neither of these are true climbing evergreen
plants, but as they are commonly perceived as such we will include them
in our list.
Climbers, either evergreen or deciduous, can be broadly categorised
into two types. Those that cling to walls by way of aerial roots, and
those that are the twining evergreens. The twining plants either twine
their stems or leaf tendrils around supports such as other plants or
trellis, whilst those with aerial self clinging roots, normally use them
up rigid surfaces such as walls and sometimes fences.
The evergreen climbers in our lists are hardy to varying degrees, and
as evergreen climbing plants are normally seen as a permanent solution
to a problematic situation, care should be taken to ensure that you
choose a hardy evergreen climber for your locale and situation. This
will avoid the disappointment in years to come, when your not so hardy
evergreen climber is no longer evergreen, but simply a tangle of bare
True Climbing Evergreen Plants - Those that Twine and Cling.
Twining evergreens that are suitable for growing up
trellis, open fence, tree or shrub, or wired supports on wall. In fact
anywhere that they can find spaces to twine around or supports to grip.
Evergreen Clematis Climbing Plants. The Clematis are
normally associated with sunny walls of dripping over the top of a
fence, amongst them being the increasingly popular group of evergreen
- The Evergreen Clematis include.
- Clematis armandii types such as
armandii itself - a winter flowering scented type that is
vigorous once established. Distinctive leaves, with quite a
dense covering, so suitable for screening. One of the Clematis
armandii types is Cl.a. Apple Blossom is very popular and
differs only in that it has pink-tinged white flowers, which
eventually fade to white. Both have gorgeous scent and the
glossy - waxy - leaves give good screening. Not really suited to
container growing as roots need plenty of space. Both are best
suited to either full sun or light shade. I have also seen them
quite successful on a north facing fence - but with less
flowers. No pruning required.
- Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica is
again winter or very early spring flowering - pendant flowers
are cream with pink speckles inside the bell-like flowers.
Clematis cirrhosa Freckles, being a little more showier with
deeper coloured speckles - or freckles. It is a vigorous grower
- to 8ft (2.4 m) and if you like plants that flower on Christmas
day, then this is your one. It starts around early November and
I have photographed them in full flower during late January
- Clematis x cartmanii - the best one for me
is the variety Avalanche, though the variety Joe is also
popular - probably because of its endearing name! Both these
grow to around 2m high with flowers that are up to 75mm (3in)
across - showy but not scented. the foliage is not as dense a
cover as the 'armandii' types, but these can be grown in a
container as the roots are not so vigorous.
- Clematis repens is very unusual in that it
has drooping yellow waxy flowers. It flowers in summer - unlike
the winter flowering clematis listed above. Not as vigorous -
but evergreen - as the armandii, cirrhosa or cartmanii types.
Worth growing for the novelty yellow pendant bell flowers.
Climbing Potato Vines - Solanums.
For me, better
described as 'semi-evergreen' though keeps enough of its leaves to be
included in this group. More of a scrambling shrub that will climb its
way, twining through and over a good sturdy trellis or fence. Also
suitable against a wall with wired supports.
- Solanum crispum - the Chilean Potato Vine has a
superb blue variety - Solanum crispum Glasnevin, which has bright
blue flowers in masses during summer and right through till late
autumn. If you prefer white, then go for the Solanum jasminoides
Album. Similar in other respects to the blue Glasnevin. Both will
need pruning hard each spring. but will soon re-grow into a dense
Left is Clematis cartmanii Avalanche with Solanum crispum Glasnevin
centre, and the surprisingly hardy Passiflora caerulea Constance Spry on
The Chocolate Vine - Akebia. Semi evergreen vine
rather than fully evergreen, loses some of its leaves in late autumn and
- Akebia quinata is the only one to mention here
- for the others are decidedly NOT evergreen - nor even
semi-evergreen. 'Quinata' being because it has a five (quin) lobed
leaf. The foliage is a darkish green, but with a purple tinge to the
leaves in winter. Flowers are near brown and nothing special to look
at, but the emit a spicy fragrance. Chocolate Vine, probably because
of the brown flowers. I can think of no other reason.
Jasmines are represented with a few evergreen and
- Jasminum angulare is just about frost hardy
with typical white scented Jasmine flowers with fully evergreen
foliage. Flowering through late summer until the hard autumn frosts.
If growing well, can reach 3m (9 - 10ft) with not too dense foliage
- Jasminum beesianum gets a place in any garden
of mine, with its light red - maybe pink - flowers, and in
particular because it is happy growing in a good-sized container.
The red flowers - though not brilliantly showy, are different, and
it flowers quite early in the summer, continuing to do so for
several months. Better than frost hardy. I have grown it through
several hard winters in Kent UK. A good all round evergreen climbing
- Jasminum mesnyi - a yellow flowered jasmine
that tries hard to be a climber! It succeeds only if grown against a
suitable support such as a stout trellis ir wired frame. may need a
little help, but then looks after itself in its upward adventures.
- Jasminum polyanthum - whilst a gorgeously
scented climbing evergreen, is a bit suspect in the hardiness
stakes, so best avoided, unless you are prepared for that!
- Jasminum Clotted Cream or Devon Cream is
sometimes sold as being evergreen. It most certainly is NOT.
Honeysuckle - Lonicera - true climbing vines with a
few evergreens amongst them.
- Lonicera giraldii - is not grown too often, but
should be. It is fully evergreen and with hairy shoots. The leaves -
textured like velvet and dark, are a good foil for the reddish
purple flowers appearing in early summer. It will clamber up to 15ft
or so (4m +).
- Lonicera henryi - will climb a clamber up an
eight metre - 24ft support, and be happy to show off its reddish
purple flowers at that height! Fully evergreen but a bit
suspect in very hard winters. Often shoots out from the base -
especially if protected - in the spring.
- Lonicera japonica Halliana - is normally
synonymous with the phrase Evergreen Honeysuckle. If it is the
evergreen foliage you want, then be prepared for it to be a little
sparse in the winter. The white flowers - that turn yellow -
however, leave nothing to be desired in the way of fragrance.
- Lonicera japonica Dart's World - is a very
densely clad bushy evergreen climber, similar to L. halliana but
with reddish flowers that eventually turn yellow. Equally as
fragrant as the former.
- The other honeysuckles - Lonicera - have no place in the list of
Passiflora - Passion Flower. Passion flowers are
vigorous tendril clad climbers with evergreen foliage and very unusual
flowers. Not the hardiest of climbers, but I have got them through the
hardest of winters in a dry border, with added root protection. Often
get battered in the winter, but can shoot out again from down below.
- Passiflora caerulea - The most planted and
successful of the Passion flower climbers. Has blue flowers with
unusual centres. Best in a sheltered place, where it will not only
flower, but may also be clad in the orange passion fruits from late
autumn. Rarely edible in the UK.
- Passiflora caerulea Constance Elliot is the
white form of this evergreen climbing plant. Seemingly quite hardy,
but I have no experience of it other than photographing the flowers
after a hard winter!
Trachelospermum - The Star Jasmine - Is not a
Jasmine, but often mistaken for one. The flowers are similar, and the
scent is heady!
- Trachelospermum jasminoides - Is not the
hardiest of evergreen climbers, but grow it in a container large
enought o hold a support - or near a pergola upright and it could
well give you several years of pleasure. The purest white flowers in
late summer are very scented - especially in the evening.
Berberidopsis - The Coral Plant. Is just about hardy
in a hard frost - no more, unless grown in a lot of shelter.
- Berberidopsis corallina is nothing like a
Berberis! It is however, a twining evergreen - even though it may
need a bit of guidance and help. Deep red flowers in drooping sprays
make this a very attractive evergreen to grow. Reasonably hardy, but
not fully in hard winters. Does best in a dry situation and should
be well mulched with open organic mulch in late autumn. get it
through the first winter, and it fares better thereafter.
Evergreen Climbing Plants that cling to walls with aerial roots.
This group of evergreens use adventitious roots along their stems to
cling to solid surfaces. Good for training up walls that have no other
means of support framework.
Left is Hedera colchica Dentata Aureum with Centre of Hedera in flower
late Autumn - important late pollen supply for bees and Right the hedera
canariensis Gloire 'd Marengo with the reverted green foliage it is
Ivies - Hedera. - the most noted and maligned
of the evergreen Climbers - yet so versatile if grown in the
right place. There are many to choose from. we will mention but
- Hedera canariensis Gloire de Marengo,
is one of the better of the large leaved Ivies, with light,
silvery green foliage, being white variegated. Suitable for
almost any situation, but prefers a bit of shelter.
Hardy and growing to around 15ft eventually, it will need
room to grow, and a good strong wall on which to climb. As
with all of the Ivies.
- Hedera colchica has two varieties worth
mentioning. My favourite is
Hedera colchica Dentata Aurea -
or Variegata with creamy yellow variegated edges, closely
followed by the Hedera colchica Paddy's Pride - also sold as
Hedera colchica Sulphur Heart which probably describes it
better. All three mentioned, are large leaved varieties of
Ivy and are superb evergreen climbers that will need space,
and strong supporting wall or fence.
- Hedera helix Buttercup is a spectacular
small-leaved variety, but the leaves change size and form at the
tops of mature stems. best grown in full sun if you want it to live
up to the name of Buttercup (The colour). It will be pale green in
shade, but nonetheless attractive for it.
- Hedera helix Green Ripple is another of my
favourites with its bright green rippled young foliage turning dark
green as the year progresses. Good against a wall and sure to please
- even if just green!
- Hedera helix Goldheart
does just as its name
suggests. As the plant gets older, then some of the shoots tend to
revert back to green - with no gold heart. Cut them out. Not too
easy if 10 - 15ft up a wall! The leaves change form as the plant
gets more mature - being larger and losing dome of its lobed
- There are many, many more Ivies to choose from, that will all do
the job of evergreen climbing plants.
Climbing Hydrangeas. There is one to mention. The
other (H. petiolaris) is not evergreen
- Hydrangea seemannii. A climbing evergreen Hydrangea with
dark green leaves not unlike the Camellia foliage - but up to 6in
15cm long! White flowers are best described as lace cap rather than
mop head type hydrangea flowers. White and quite scented on warm
evenings and mild mornings. It is NOT a twining plant as sometimes
described, but instead, climbs and clings by means of aerial roots.
Happy in shade - even a North wall like its other climbing hydrangea
cousin - H. petiolaris.
Euonymus - Some of the evergreen types will climb
unaided once established. best described as rambling plants, however
they will climb by way of aerial roots if planted against wall or fence.
- Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety, as with
the other members of the Euonymus fortunei clan, will climb if
placed near a wall or fence. Most are fully hardy - even if getting
a little winter leaf scorch.
- The other of note is Euonymus fortunei Emerald 'n Gold.
- Euonymus fortunei Silver Queen - if you can get
the correctly labelled plant - is also a good evergreen climber.
Pileostegia or (Schyzophragma
viburnoides. - Both the same
plant). NOT Schyzophragma integrifolium
which is deciduous
- Pileostegia viburnoides is a superb self
clinging climbing evergreen for walls no matter how high, though
looks its best if it can get to top of a wall and then clamber
along. White flowers - not unlike the climbing Hydrangea - or some
of the Viburnums - hence its name. Well worth growing - especially
on a shaded wall where it can clamber up to the sun atop!
Shrubs Suitable for Wall or fence Plants. These
mentioned below are not true climbing evergreens. However, they are
often used to good effect when planted against walls.
- Pyracantha varieties. All Pyracantha -
Firethorns - are evergreen and quite hardy. They are spectacular
when used as a wall or fence shrub, both for their white flowers in
May/June and then the berries ranging from yellow through to darkest
red depending upon variety. All are evergreen and are also quite
happy to be used as shade plants.
- Ceanothus - the Californian Lilac - is often
used as a wall or fence shrub - not without good reason for they are
a little on the tender side, and appreciate the cover of a warm wall
or fence in the winter. Together with that, most are a bit lax in
habit, and prefer to have the stability afforded by training against
a wall or fence.
- Fremontodendron californicum is best classified
as semi evergreen and not a particularly good 'screen' but it is
happy against wall or fence. The hairs of this plant are very itchy,
so beware when pruning or training.
By David Hughes -