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Plants for walls and fences

Climbing plants for walls and fences

Climbers are a versatile group of plants - use climbing plants to cover fences, walls, trellis, arches or obelisks! You can also train certain shrubs as ‘wall shrubs’ for the same effect. Climbers are great for screening unsightly areas of the garden, brightening up bare walls and adding height to your borders. We’ve put together a list of climbing plants for shade and sun so whatever surface you’re trying to cover you will find something suitable here!

Supporting climbing plants

Some climbers such as Ivy and Virginia creeper will cling to surfaces naturally via aerial roots but twining climbers such as Honeysuckle and Clematis will need a framework to scramble over. Wall shrubs don’t climb naturally and will need training and tying in to a support.

All climbing plants will need some training initially. When planting your new climber or shrub, make sure you plant it 30-45cm away from the base of a wall or fence so the rain can reach the roots of the plant. Use a series of horizontal or vertical wires, or a trellis attached to the wall to provide support for your climbing plants. Tie in new shoots with soft garden twine. Garden structures for climbing plants need to be strong and secure as plants can become very heavy with age.

Climbing plants for containers

Both annual and perennial climbing plants can be grown in a container. Good annual climbing plants include Sweet peas , Black-eyed Susan , Morning Glory and Nasturtiums . Perennial climbing plants generally become fairly large as they mature so need careful training when grown in a container. For suitable climbing plants for patios take a look at the tables below. For further cultivation advice about growing your climber in a container refer to the individual product pages.

Climbing plants for east-facing and north-facing walls

North-facing walls are sunless and cold places creating less-than-ideal growing conditions. However there are a number of plants able to cope with these conditions well. East-facing walls can also be quite cold as they only receive morning sunlight; however this extra sunlight allows you to grow a wider choice of plants. Take care when choosing plants for east-facing walls as the early morning sunlight in the winter and spring can cause damage to frozen buds and leaves. Rapid thawing of the buds and leaves can cause cell damage resulting in browning or withering. Evergreen climbing plants and shrubs such as Camellias are particularly susceptible to this.

Plants for north and east-facing walls Climbing plant Wall shrub Suitable for containers Flowering period Extra features
Aconitum hemsleyanum (Climbing Monk's Hood) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Berberis Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Chaenomeles speciosa (Japanese Quince) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Chaenomeles x superba (Japanese Quince) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Clematis alpina Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Clematis armandii Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Clematis montana Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Cotoneaster horizontalis Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Euonymus fortunei (Winter Creeper) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Garrya (Silk-tassel Bush) Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Ivy (Hedera helix) Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Lonicera japonica 'Halliana' (Honeysuckle) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Lonicera periclymenum 'Serotina' (Late Dutch Honeysuckle) Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Scented
Lonicera x tellmanniana (Tellman's Honeysuckle) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Mahonia japonica Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Architectural
Mahonia x media 'Charity' (Oregon Grape) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Architectural
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virginia Creeper) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Pileostegia viburnoides Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Evergreen
Pyracantha (Firethorn) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Rose 'Albric Barbier' Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Scented
Rose 'Gloire de Dijon' Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Scented
Rose 'Madame Alfred Carrire' Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Scented
Rose 'Maigold' Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Scented
Schizophragma hydrangeoides (Japanese Hydrangea Vine) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Tropaeolum speciosum (Flame Nasturtium) Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Attractive Foliage

Climbing plants for south and west-facing walls

In contrast to North-facing walls, South and west-facing walls are warm and bright. A south-facing wall will absorb the heat of the sun throughout the day and retain it through the night making these ideal locations for less hardy plants such as Ceanothus (Californian Lilac), Abutilon and Passion flower. Winter-flowering climbing plants, and wall shrubs such as Silk-tassel bush (Garrya) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthus), will also benefit from the warmth early in the year and will flower more freely against a south or west-facing wall. Why not try growing fruit against a sunny wall for a spectacular show of spring blossom and fresh home-grown produce straight from your garden! Fruit trees can be trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to save space.

As the soil is prone to drying out in these hot locations ensure you dig in plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before planting. Mulching with organic matter or pebbles will also help to conserve moisture during the summer.

Plants for south and west-facing walls Climbing plant Shrub Tree Suitable for containers Flowering period Extra features
Abeliophyllum distichum (White Forsythia) Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Scented
Abutilon megapotamicum (Flowering Maple) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Actinidia deliciosa (Kiwifruit) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Actinidia kolomikta Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Apples Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Apricots Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Berberis Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Buddleja crispa (Butterfly Bush) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Scented
Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Cestrum parqui (Willow-leaved Jessamine) Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Scented
Chaenomeles speciosa (Japanese Quince) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Cherries Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet) Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Scented
Clematis Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens 'Freckles' Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Cytisus battandieri (Pineapple Broom) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Everlasting Sweet Pea Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Fig (Ficus) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Garrya (Silk-tassel Bush) Interesting Features - Winter Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Honeysuckle Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Scented
Humulus lupulus 'Aureus' (Golden Hop) Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Itea ilicifolia (Holly-leaved Sweet Spire) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Evergreen
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Nectarines Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Virginia Creeper) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Passion Flower Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Evergreen
Peaches Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Pears Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Plums Interesting Features - Spring Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Pyracantha (Firethorn) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Evergreen
Robinia hispida (Rose Acacia) Interesting Features - Spring Flowering
Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' Interesting Features - Spring Flowering
Rose Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Scented
Schisandra rubriflora Interesting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Solanum crispum (Chilean Potato Tree) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Scented
Trachelospermum (Star Jasmine) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Vitis (Grape Vine) Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Wisteria Interesting Features - Summer Flowering Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage

Written by: Sue Sanderson

Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.

Sue Sanderson