Climbing plants to brighten up that shady corner of the garden
Climbing plants for shade
Most gardens have a shady spot, usually against a North or East-facing wall or fence where conditions can also be dry but can equally be damp. These areas are usually left bare but this does not need to be, there are plenty of climbing plants that like shade and are well suited for these conditions as it is most like the natural environment they would usually grow, in areas such as woodlands areas under large trees.
In the garden these areas often have poor soil and it is always a good idea to add leaf mould, organic composted media such as a homemade compost or simply adding some multi-purpose compost to the soil. This will help to revive and add nutrients back into the soil. That being said, some climbers are adapted to living in poor soils and will thrive. Most climbing plants will not survive soils with poor drainage that hold water, if your area is like this then try to add some grit to the soil and organic matter to improve drainage so that the soil is free draining.
Shade loving climbing plants
The plants below are all suitable for more shady areas of the garden, some prefer poor soils whilst others prefer fertile soil. Some grow better in dense shade whilst others are more suitable for partially shaded areas. It is a good idea to take this into account when planning which plants are more suitable for your area.
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris AGM
Climbing Hydrangeas are an excellent climbing plant and will thrive in more shadier parts of the garden reaching heights of 50ft making them ideal for covering large areas. They use the aerial roots to attach themselves to walls and fences and do not require support. They produce long cone shaped white flowers that are 30cm long from around May to June, these are produced on the previous year’s growth. They need well-drained soil and it is a good idea to do any pruning straight after flowering has finished as pruning later will remove new growth and will result in less flowers the following year. It has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
There are many varieties of Clematis montana, these include ‘Rubens’ with it’s pink flowers and the ‘Grandiflora’ which has pure white flowers. Whichever variety you choose, (and many of them look very similar) they are all generally fast growing deciduous climbers that will thrive in partial shade. They use their twining leaf stems to wrap around trellis frame work or other supports and flower around May when masses of star-shaped single flowers are produced. They are suitable for exposed or sheltered areas but do need well-drained soil.
Clematis montana ‘Mayleen’
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ AGM
Also commonly known as the ‘Hall’s Japanese Honeysuckle’, this climber is ideal for partial shade positions in the garden and will thrive in any moist soil as long as it is well-drained. It has dark green ovate leaves and produces distinctive white/yellow tubular flowers from April through to August. It grows to around 4 to 8 metres tall but can be pruned to keep it under control in smaller positions. Ideally suited to partial shade and provides all year round colour. Works well growing through large trees and shrubs as well as being grown against a wall, fence or gable end of a house.
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ – Image source: wikimedia.org
There are many types of Ivy, which often come in a wide range of colours, from dark green leaves to variegated yellow and cream leaves. Seen widely across the UK and in many gardens, they use their aerial roots to climb walls and can be grown up anything from walls to fences and trees. They are probably one the hardiest climbers available and will grow in semi-shade as well as dense shade making them ideal for the most shaded areas of the garden. With lots of varieties available there are some smaller varieties so check the eventual sizes before purchasing.
Hedera also known as Common Ivy
Commonly known as Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper, this deciduous climber is at home in dense shade as it is in full sun. This vigorous climber uses tendrils or disc-like suckers to attach itself to walls and fences and are self-climbing. They have lobed, palmate-type leaves which produce the most stunning show of colour in autumn as the leaves turn from green to a stunning show of fiery red and orange colours before falling for the winter. They will grow in most soils including dry and damp soils as long as it is well-drained (as with most climbers). Grows to around 12 metres tall with a spread of 8 metres so it is ideal for covering large walls and is often seen growing up the sides of houses. There are many varieties to choose from but one we would highly recommend is the Parthenocissus quinquefolia.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Image source: wikimedia.org
A beautiful climber that is also known as the ‘Winter Jasmine’. It is ideal for a partially shaded position in well-drained soil. Ideal for coastal gardens, this climber is also classed as a medium sized shrub and does need tying onto support frames to grow on. It produces stunning small bright yellow flowers in the winter and spring. These flowers appear after it has dropped it’s leaves for the winter and the show is absolutely stunning. It prefers a more sheltered position which will offer it a little protection from the weather and grows to around 2.5 metres tall by around the same spread. The stem growth is vine-like with small green leaves. If left unsupported it also makes a great ground spreading shrub.
Jasminium nudiflorium – winter flower ideal for partial shade
Solanum jasminoides Album
This jasmine-scented evergreen climber is also known as the ‘Potato Vine’. It is best grown on a support or trellis and it will even grow well through other climbers and shrubs. Best planted in a sheltered spot, it grows well in semi-shade in any fertile but well-drained soil. They are drought tolerant and will grow to around 4-6 metres with around the same spread. The star-shaped white or purple flowers have a mild perfume and will flower from June right the way through to September. It has been awarded an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit). Cut back any side shoots to around 2 to 4 buds in spring and prune to keep it to your desired size.
Solanum jasminoides – Image source: wikimedia.org
Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle)
Known as ‘Late Dutch Honeysuckle‘ these climbers are very fast growing and are ideal for climbing over pergolas, fences and alternatively up walls too. Lonicera periclymenum are a vigorous, deciduous climbing shrub with oval-shaped dark green leaves. They produce attractive perfumed flowers in summer which last into the autumn which are followed by attractive by red berries.
They grow well in most well-drained soils in partial shade so will grow well on a north facing wall. Ideal for exposed or sheltered positions in the garden.
Lonicera periclymenum – Image Credit: wikimedia.org
Clematis alpina, Clematis macropetala, and Jackmanii
These clematis are all deciduous varieties that will grow in partial shade happily and prefer a moist but well-drained soil. Clematis are best planted with their crown (just above the soil level) planted a few inches deep below the final soil level when planting to encourage new growth from ground level. Mulch around the base and add a layer of bark or pebbles around the base which will help to keep the roots cool. They will grow in most soil types in sheltered or exposed positions.
Clematis alpina ‘Blue Dancer’
Most climbing roses need full sun but there are a few climbing roses that will grow well in more shadier parts of the garden. We have an article “Climbing roses for shade” where we have written in more detail about the top 8 climbing roses for shade. There is no other climbing plant that provides the same colours and scent that some climbing roses do. Most climbing roses will reach between 3 and 4 metres tall and will grow well in a humus-rich moist soil but it needs to be well-drained. They also offer flowers for months on end all the way through summer. Our roses which will grow in partial shade include:
- Zephirine Droughin (which is thornless), the Madame Alfred Carriere and the Danse de Feu
Zephirine Droughin climbing rose – Image source: wikimedia.org