Best evergreen climbing plants - our top ten
of the most sought-after groups of plants in our mailbox, is evergreen
climbing plants - and even more sought-after is flowering evergreen
Solanum crispum Glasnevin
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
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.
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
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 also.
- 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 -
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
- 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 canopy screen.
Eccremocarpus - Chilean Glory Vine Flower - Perennial which is
evergreen in most areas.
Left is Clematis cartmanii Avalanche with the surprisingly hardy
Passiflora caerulea Constance Spry on right.
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
semi-evergreen varieties. -
- 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
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 noted for.
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 a few.
- 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
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
- 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!
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 appearance.
- 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
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.
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