A Climber For Any Wall

May 31, 2024



By Veronica


Climbers are a great way to add greenery or colour to the garden even when  space is scarce. You may want to cover an unsightly wall, add a bit of height to a boundary one for privacy or even add an extra layer of insulation to the house by growing an evergreen. Climbers can do all that and there are solutions for any type of wall, in any type of exposure.

To achieve a lush result, there are a few things to consider however:

  • How sunny is the wall?
  • Can I add a trellis?
  • Can I plant in the ground, or do I need a plant for a pot?
  • Do I want coverage all year round?
  • Do I want flowers? If so, which colour and which season?
  • Is fragrance important to me?

We have made a little guide to help you choose the best plant for your needs.


Aspect: Full sun to shade

One of the first things to ask yourself is ‘how many hours of sun does this wall get a day?’. Obviously, you would have more options for a sunny wall (6+ hours of sun). The Passiflora will adorn the sunniest walls with its exquisite, tropical flowers. These will only open in the sun as a matter of fact. There are many different varieties, all from South America but the Caerulea type is the only one hardy enough to be grown outdoors in Ireland. Alternatively, the wonderful scent of the jasmine will appear stronger in the heat. Although it tolerates partial shade, you will achieve better results in a sunny spot. The same applies to Wisteria. This vigorous climber bears racemes of flowers in white, pink or purple shades depending on the variety but profuse flowering will only occur in full sun.

Wisteria By Annie Spratt

In partial shade (between 4 and 6 hours of sun), many climbers will still thrive. For scent, try the honeysuckle. It is rather undemanding and comes in a wide range of warm colours, from white and yellow to bright oranges or deep reddish pinks. The summer blooms are attractive to pollinators and often followed by dark blue or black berries. The potato vine is another vigorous climber worth a try. The purple-flowered variety eventually grows into a small tree like plant with naked strong stems and a large head covered with clusters of violet-blue flowers from mid-summer well into the Autumn. This semi-evergreen climber is fast-growing but it will need a sheltered spot. The white variety is just as vigorous, resembling the Jasmine but with a lighter fragrance.

Solanum by Geraldine Dukes


In full shade (less than 4 hours of sun), fewer plants will provide colour. The Pileostegia (evergreen climbing hydrangea) will reward you with its white, flat flowerheads. It grows into a large specimen (6 metres high) but rather slowly so be patient! The Parthenocissus Henryana will grow faster. It does not flower but the foliage makes up for it with white markings and its fiery autumn colour.


Parthenocissus by Taylor Vick


Evergreen foliage for year-round colour

Whether you need privacy or you are trying to cover a (very) ugly wall (or else), varieties that retain their foliage in the winter can be attractive year-round and add interest to the garden.

Ivy is a very easy to grow option, it simply looks after itself! Well, almost, it still needs a bit of care, especially in the beginning while it gets established. Variegated varieties can be very attractive and their flowers are beneficial for pollinators (although the plant itself is actually poisonous, something that you might want to keep in mind if you have young children or pets). The Cissus Striata is a safer option in that case, it is just as shade tolerant as the ivy.

Variegated Ivy by Boldiszar Bednarik

The Pyracantha (Firethorn) is a great allrounder: fragrant flowers covering the plant in late spring/early summer, followed by brightly coloured berries, loved by birds in Autumn. The only thing is that it is really thorny so be mindful of the place you choose.

Pyracantha by Nima Mohammadi

Fragrant too, the Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) will make the perfect feature for a sunny and sheltered wall. It flowers profusely from June to August and the dark green leaves turn bronze-red in winter to add interest to the garden. It grows to a height of 9 meters but very slowly so it may be worth investing in a mature plant.

Star Jasmine by Niklas Ohlrogge

Lastly, Henry’s honeysuckle is not a strongly scented variety but the crimson and yellow flowers are attractive to pollinators. It grows tall and narrow making an interesting choice for an arch, or any columnar support.


No trellis, no problem

The majority of the climbing plants will need some kind of support to climb onto. This could be a wooden trellis, a pergola, net fencing or event just a few cables. It is very important to consider the type of support needed beforehand. A willow trellis will not suit the vigorous wisteria for example.

If you do not have the option to drill in the walls, self-clinging varieties might be a better alternative. The hydrangea petiolaris will find its way up thanks to its self-clinging aerial roots although a bit of help the first year may be needed, until these roots are formed. It will grow high and wide (12 metres by 8 metres) but it is fairly slow in the beginning so be patient and it will reward you with countless lacecap flowerheads in Summer.

Ivy by Christian Lue

For an evergreen option, the ivy, again, is one of the easiest to grow. The large leaved, variegated varieties are less vigorous than the native one, growing only to 3 metres on average.

The so called wall shrubs deserve a try as well. These flowering varieties are very easy to grow and will add colour to the garden in spring. The flowering quince (Chaenomeles) is a delight in Spring as it blooms on bare wood. It is a very tolerant shrub that can be grown in any type of soil in sun or shade. You may prefer, however, the evergreen Californian lilac with its spectacular flowering in late spring, when it is covered with blue blossoms. Or maybe will you fall for the timeless Cotoneaster horizontalis and its bright red berries.

Californian lilac by Georg Eiermann


You might wonder, what’s about the roses or the Clematis? Stay tuned in...

In the meantime, here are some of the best climbers to grow:

 Plant Name Size Aspect Season of Interest Foliage Fragrance Beneficial to Wildlife
Passiflora Caerulea 12 x 4m Full sun to Partial shade White and purple flowers in Summer deciduous No yes
Jasminum Officinale

5 x 5m

Full sun to Partial shade White flowers in Summer deciduous yes, strong yes
Jasminum Polyanthum 3 x 3m Dappled Shade White flowers in Spring Evergreen yes No
Wisteria Sinensis >12 x >8m Full sun to Partial shade Lilac flowers in late spring and early summer deciduous yes yes
Lonicera 'Hall's Prolific'

6 x 1.5m

Full sun to Partial shade White and Yellow in spring and summer deciduous yes, strong yes
Lonicera Henryi 6 x 1m Full sun to Partial shade Yellow and crimson flowers in Summer Evergreen No yes
Solanum Jasminoides 6 x 2m Full sun White flowers in summer and into autumn Semi-Evergreen yes, light No
Solanum 'Glasnevin' 6 x 2m Full sun Purple flowers in Summer and into autumn Semi-Evergreen yes, light yes
Pileostegia Viburnoides 6 x 1.5m Full sun to Full shade White flowers in summer and into autumn Evergreen No yes
Parthenocissus Henryana 9 x 3m Dappled Shade Autumn when foliage changes colour deciduous No No
Parthenocissus Tricuspidata >12 x >8m Full sun to Full shade Autumn when foliage changes colour deciduous No No
Hedera 'Sulphur Heart' 3 x 2m Full sun to Full shade Grown for foliage. Flowers in Autumn, Fruits in winter Evergreen No yes
Hedera 'Gloire de Marengo' 3 x 2m Full sun to Full shade Grown for foliage. Flowers in Autumn, Fruits in winter Evergreen No yes
Pyracantha 3 x 3m Full sun to Partial shade White flowers in Spring, Berries in Autumn Evergreen No yes
Trachelospermum Jasminoides 9 x 5m Full sun to Dappled shade White flowers in Summer, reddish foliage in winter Evergreen yes, strong No
Hydrangea Petiolaris 15 x 5m Full sun to Full shade White flowers in Summer deciduous No No
Chaenomeles Japonica 1 x 2m Full sun to Full shade Orange-red flowers in Spring deciduous No yes
Ceanothus 'Trewithen Blue' 6 x 8m Full sun Blue flowers in early summer Evergreen yes, light yes
Cotoneaster Horizontalis 0.5 x 1.8m Full sun to Partial shade Pink flowers in Summer, Red berries in Autumn deciduous No yes



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