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The Top 12 Climbers for north facing walls that will thrive where most climbers won’t

Last updated on April 25th, 2022

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If you have a north-facing wall, you can capitalise on it by growing a climber up and over that wall. Not every plant will fair in such conditions, but there are a dozen that will.

Below are the top 12 climbers for north-facing walls

1. Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’

Euonymus Emerald n Gold ground cover shrub

Nicknamed ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’, this planted against a wall or as an evergreen specimen shrub. It is beautiful all year round, with an array of colour in the autumn, small flowers being produced in spring and colourful fruits later in the season. It has a habit of spreading, so it works well for growing against and up a wall. The leaves are broad and green with a yellow margin, and in winter they are tinged with pink. It does well in north-facing sites in sheltered or exposed conditions. Quite versatile, it tolerates full shade, partial shade and full sun.

What’s more, it can tolerate loamy, sandy, clay, or chalky soil, as long as the conditions are moist but well-draining. Once fully established, it will reach upwards of 1 metre in height and 1.5 meters in spread, although it takes between 5 and 10 years to get there.


2. Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ – Ivy

This variety of evergreen Ivy is a climbing shrub that uses aerial roots to cling to the wall. It produces lobed leaves that are a grey-green colour with cream edges. It won’t produce flowers, but rest assured it will quickly cover your wall. It does well in full sun or partial shade and tolerates all types of pH levels and soil types, as long as the soil is moist and well-draining. It does well in informal and cottage gardens. Make sure to keep a lookout for leaf spot, aphids or scale insects.


3. Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris – Climbing Hydrangea

Known as the climbing Hydrangea this is a self-clinging deciduous climber with stunning oval leaves that are green in spring and yellow in autumn. The flower heads are about 20cm wide and in them, you will see a range of fertile flowers, small in size, surrounded by larger white flowers that draw the eye.

It grows best in full sun and partial shade, in acidic or neutral soil, tolerant of only loamy, clay and sandy conditions. Within 10-20 years it will reach a height of 12 metres or more, with a final spread between 4 and 8 metres.


4. Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia Creeper

Nicknamed the Virginia Creeper or American Ivy, this plant has five ovate leaflets that start out green and turn bright orange and red come autumn. It is a vigorous climber and a deciduous one too. You can enjoy green foliage in spring and summer, followed by small black and blue fruits in the autumn. It does well with full sun, partial shade, and even full shade which makes it suitable for almost any area.

Within 5-10 years it will reach an ultimate height of over 12 metres with a spread between 4 and 8 metres. It tolerates chalk, clay, sand and loam soil with any pH level, as long as it is moist and well-draining. Be warned that it can be considered an invasive species, non-native to British gardens so you will need to take great care in managing it and disposing of any unwanted parts. 


5. Clematis ‘Bees Jubilee’

Clematis bees jubilee - great for shade
Clematis Bees Jubilee

A deciduous climber, this clematis reaches about 3 metres in height once it is fully established. It is free-flowering at the start of summer and can produce a second flush at the end of summer. During that time you can enjoy large flowers, ones that are up to 18cm in size, the colour of which is a richly pink centre and pale pink exterior.

These thrive in moisture-rich, well-draining soil and do best if you keep the roots and base of the plant cool while allowing the rest of the clematis to enjoy the sunlight. This can be achieved by putting a layer of pebbles, small groundcover plants or mulch at the base. The crown should be planted 5-8cm deep so that new shoots grow from underground instead of on top. Be on the lookout for aphids and caterpillars. 

Clematis 'Bees Jubilee'
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6. Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’

This clematis produces flowers between June and September. The flowers are a rich creamy colour with a yellow cream stripe down the centre of each petal. It is a shade loving climber and will reach upwards of 2.5 metres in height. Scented, you can enjoy a beautiful floral display mixed with a rich aroma when nearby. The plant should be deadheaded after flowering to encourage secondary flushes with regular pruning to control its size.

Clematis 'Guernsey Cream'
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7. Lonicera henryi ‘Copper Beauty’ – Honeysuckle

Lonicera henryi vigorous climber

The Copper Beauty Honeysuckle will reach an eventual height of 10 metres and spread of 2 metres. As a semi-evergreen climber, it will drop off some of its leaves come winter, especially in colder areas or in more exposed regions, however, come spring it will refresh itself. It does well planted in full sun or partial shade and prefers humus-rich soil. It grows quite quickly and flowers between June and July. You can cut it back after flowering, then apply 5-7cm of mulch around the base at the start of spring.


8. Trachelospermum jasminoides – Star Jasmine

The star jasmine is a vigorous and medium-sized Evergreen vine that brings to your garden dark green leaves up to 8cm in length along wiry stems. At the end of spring, you will see an abundance of sweetly fragrant flowers that are white in shade and star in shape, reaching 2.5 centimetres on average. As the flowers age, they take on a creamy hue.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Star Jasmine’, this is a vigorous evergreen, woody climber that produces dark green leaves in an oval shape. The leaves are 5-8cm in length and come winter turn a deep red colour, followed by fragrant white clusters of flowers that are about 2.5cm in size. These flowers start out bright white when they first open and turn cream with age. It is easy to maintain and prefers shelter from cold wind. You can prune it regularly, and keep your eyes peeled for mealybugs or red spider mites but other than that, it is relatively disease-free.


9. Rambling Rose ‘Albéric Barbier’

This is a variety of rambling roses that is strong growing and can reach 5 metres once fully established. It is known for its glossy green foliage that draws the eye, mixed with its clusters of scented flowers. The flowers appear in the middle of summer and are double, cream coloured flushed with yellow.

This rambling rose tolerates all types of pH levels, chalky, loamy or sandy soil, as long as it is planted somewhere with good drainage and is kept moist. For this, if you grow it up your wall, apply a balanced fertiliser with mulch at the end of winter or beginning of spring. You should look out for diseases like black spot, powdery mildew or rose rust. There are many pests that will need to be dealt with, for example, scale insects, caterpillars, rose sawflies and red spider mites.


10. Climbing Rose ‘Maigold’

Rose plants can come in the form of deciduous, semi evergreens or scrambling climbers. They all have thorny stems and clusters of flowers. The ‘Maigold’ variety is yet another thorny stemmed climber that has dark green foliage and produces semi-double flowers. The flowers are very fragrant and have a coppery yellow hue to them. At the start of summer, they appear and grow 10cm in size, repeating again until autumn.

It is best to grow them in full sun with fertile soil. They need a balanced fertiliser with mulch at the end of winter or start of spring, and again in summer. 


11. Cotoneaster horizontalis

This plant is a deciduous shrub that can reach one or two m in height and spreads rapidly in terms of its width. It requires full sun to partial shade & blooms with pink foliage and showy flowers between May and June. It is a very low maintenance plan that requires a medium watering efforts and will attract birds to your yard. It is very drought resistant.

This Cotoneaster shrub is a horizontal spreading plant that can be trained to grow up a north-facing wall with ease. It is a deciduous, spreading shrub that provides your garden with a range of colour throughout the season. It has dark green, glossy leaves all season long and between May and June, it produces an abundance of small, pinkish-white flowers.

By autumn, the flowers and leaves change to a rich red colour with red fruit. Once fully established, it will reach a height of 1 metre and a spread of 2. If you want to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden, this is the plant to choose.


12. Jasminum nudiflorum – Winter Jasmine

Winter Jasmine is a very unique flower given that it starts to bloom in Winter, hence its name. You will start to see flowers as early as January. The cold season blooms are rare but they do happen. More importantly, as part of the Jasmine family, you will enjoy a sweet scent from your porch with beautiful, starry blooms that add delightful colours to your landscape.

Originally from China, this Jasmine plant has gained a lot of popularity for its spreading, climbing nature. It is also referred to as the ‘Winter Jasmine’ because of its trailing vines that produce yellow flowers, and these appear right after winter. It is for this reason that its Chinese name means “the flower that welcomes spring”.

It will grow upwards of 3 metres to 5 metres in height. The branches grow from a central crown with arching branches that will trail behind if not trained up your north-facing wall and root into the ground along the path. That being said, you can grow it in the middle of your wall at the base, train the branches along the length of the wall, and then train them up the wall so that you have rooted sections along the entirety of your north-facing wall.


No matter which of these plants you choose, or which combination of them, be sure to provide them with the right conditions, keep them well watered, and give them something to help them grow upright.

Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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