Climbing Plants for Shade - The
Shaded areas by the garden fence, near a tree or at side of
house, often get neglected because of the 'difficulty' of
growing plants there.
This need not be the case for there are many climbing plants
that will grow in shade positions.
Some of these climbing plants are evergreen, which makes them
even more desirable - especially if they are flowering
Growing plants in shade areas can be successfully undertaken if
thought and attention is given to the immediate soil environment. Shade
areas can sometimes be permanently damp - or as is often the case -
quite dry for most of the year.
If no plants have been grown on a barren shade area, then the soil
is often left uncultivated - making any physical problem even worse. In
both extreme cases - dry and damp shade - the addition of organic bulky
compost, such as peat, leafmould, garden compost, or even multi-purpose
potting compost will do much to improve the physical properties of the
It is worth doing, so that your shaded area can then be home to some
interesting climbing plants. Addition of a long term fertiliser such as bonemeal - or one of the slow release Osmocote type fertilisers will
also be beneficial.
Climbing Plants that thrive in Shade.
Some climbers will positively thrive in shade conditions, whilst
others may take a little care to get established. Many climbers are
shade lovers in their natural environment. Honeysuckles being one of the
woodland climbers, so naturally at home in shade.
Honeysuckle - Lonicera. Both the evergreen and
deciduous types are happy in shade. They will either need wire
framework, or some form of open trellis support for they climb by
virtue of twisting round tree trunks and branches in their wild
state. For this reason they are best suited to fence areas rather
than walls - unless a suitable framework can be provided. Galvanised
wire fastened to the wall would suit.
Lonicera japonica 'Halleana' and Lonicera henryii
are two evergreen types to try, with the latter having longish
pointed leaves. L. 'Halleana has light cream flowers whilst L.
henryii has flowers of yellow to gold. Both are
excellent climbers in shade areas
The deciduous types are more colourful - but of course lose their
leaves in winter.
One of the best climbers for these shaded areas is Lonicera
periclymenum 'Belgica', with red and white flowers. L.p Serrotina
is also good - and very similar. So much so, that the two often get
mixed up and sold as each other! Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore
Scarlet' is an old favourite that does well in shade areas also.
Ivies - Hedera. There are some superb Ivies that are
well suited to growing in shade areas - especially the large leaved
types. They normally take a full growing season to get started, but soon
start to make growth in the second year. Ivies are normally self
clinging climbing plants, though also twine around anything in reach. Shaded fences that
are to be the home for any of the Ivy group will need to be robust - and
well preserved before planting, for once the Ivy takes hold, it will be
more or less impossibly to remove without damaging the fence!
colchica 'Dentata Variegata' - pictured on left - is one of the
most colourful. H c. 'Sulphur Heart' - or 'Paddies Pride' is
also good, though a little slower to establish.
There are many smaller leaved types that will also be suitable in
shady places - notably Hedera helix 'Goldheart'. This one is
particularly interesting, for whilst it start off as a small leaved Ivy,
the newer leaves on established plants take on the 'adult' shape and
size of large leaved types. The dark green foliage is splashed with
bright yellow gold centre - a great climbing plant to brighten up a dark
are often overlooked for shade areas, but they can be some of
the best of the climbing plants for shade. The large flowered hybrids do
well in total shade - but better if they can clamber up to some sunlight
- so better on shaded fence.
Whilst the large flowers hybrids are
universally deciduous, there are a few evergreen Clematis which are also
superb in shade. the best of these has to be Clematis armandii - a
vigorous climber that will soon cover a shaded wall or fence. Very
attractive dark green foliage - which contrasts well with the pure
white flowers that abound in late winter. A must-try climbing plant for
The smaller flowered Clematis montana types are also good
plants like the shade. Especially if they can reach up to the light.
Clematis montana 'Rubens' seems to do better in shade than the
other montana types.
Clematis florida Seiboldii
Climbing Hydrangea - Hydrangea
petiolaris - is without equal on a shaded wall. It is self
clinging so not particularly suited to fences, but give it a shaded wall
and it will cover a few square metres by year three after planting.
Deciduous, but with golden yellow autumn foliage and of course white
flowers in early summer. This shrub is also good ground cover on a
densely shaded bank!
Virginian Creepers - are true climbing plants and
all types do well in shade. Of particular use is the true Virginian
Creeper - Parthenocissus quinquefolia. This is a self clinging
climbing plant well suited to shade. It climbs by way of small suckers
on the end of tendrils.
Shaded Wall or Fence Shrubs that are not strictly
climbing plants, will include >>>>>
- the Firethorns. These tri-purpose shrubs - evergreen, flowers
and berries, are all good for the shaded wall or fence - or anywhere
else in the shade. They are not climbers but are often trained up walls
and along fences by way of wires attached firmly. They never fail in
shaded garden places.
The Firethorns picture on left shows just two of the colours
available for the berries. Perfect plants for brightening up the shade
wall or fence.
Cotoneasters are also suitable - especially the
larger leaved types which are generally evergreen - and flower in
May/June followed with Berries. They will need training as climbers and
will need supporting on frame of wires. Cotoneaster frigidus
and cotoneaster 'Cornubia' can both be trained for a shade wall, and
respond well to trimming back against wall or fence.
Jasmine - The Winter flowered one - Jasminum
nudiflorum- is a solid plant for training against wall or fence in
the shady part of the garden. Not a true climbing plant, it can be
trained to reach a height of around 2 metres and is a delight in mid
winter with its bright golden yellow flowers. It never fails in a
shaded place, and only needs a few nails or wires on a wall to send it
Climbing Roses that do well in shade include R
Golden Showers (A yellow) and R American Pillar - A red. If you
can treat the mildew, then R Iceberg (white) is also good.
The Potato Vine - If not too dense shade. Solanum crispum
Glasnevin for the blue, ot Solanum jasminoides Album for the white
version. Both superb - but need a bit of looking after.
Climbing Plants Main Page |
Climbing Evergreen Plants
Climbing Plants for Sunny Places |
By David Hughes -