Shrubs and Climbers for Sunless Walls

Against cold, sunless walls, it is essential to choose climbers that grow naturally in shade or semi-shade.  These provide reliable and effective foliage cover, and some have attractive flowers.  Climbing roses also may flower reasonably well in sunless situations and, together with shade-tolerant shrubs, add colour to shaded walls and wall side borders.  Shade-growing plants prefer moist, leafy, woodland type soils; when planting, enrich the soil well with organic matter, such as leaf mould.


Akebia quinata (Chocolate vine)
Woody-stemmed, twining climber, semi-evergreen in mild winters.Vanilla scented, brownish-purple flowers in late spring, followed by purplish fruits.
H 10m (30ft)

Hedera helix cultivars (Ivy)

Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea)
Deciduous, woody-stemmed, root climber. Has toothed leaves and lacy heads of small white flowers in summer. H to 15m (50ft)

Lonicera japonica Halliana (Honeysuckle)
Evergreen or semi-evergreen, woody-stemmed, twining climber, with bright green leaves. Very fragrant, white flowers ageing to yellow in summer and autumn. H to 10m (30ft)

Parthenocissus henryana (Chinese Virginia Creeper)
Woody climber with dark green leaves composed of 3-5 leaflets conspicuously veined white, and sometimes pink in the centres, turning bright red in autumn. H 10m (30ft)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Vigorous, woody climer with mid-green leaves turning brilliant red in autumn. H 15m (50ft) or more.

Parthenocissus tricuspidata (Boston Ivy)
Vigorous, woody climber with deeply toothed, bright green leaves, which turn brilliant red to purple in autumn. H 20m (70ft)

Pileostegia viburnoides
Slow-growing, evergreen, woody-stemmed, root climber. Tiny white or cream flowers with prominant stamens from late summer to autumn. H to 6m (20ft)

Schizophragma integrifolium
Woody root climber with dark green leaves. In midsummer, small, slightly fragrant, creamy white flowers in flat terminal cymes. H 12m (40ft)


Azara microphylla
Elegant, evergreen shrub or small tree. Has tiny, glossy, dark green leaves and small clusters of vanilla-scented, deep yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. H & S 6m (20ft)

Camellia japonica cultivars

Choisya ternata (Mexican orange Blossom)
Evergreen, rounded, dense shrub with aromatic, glossy, bright green leaves. \clusters of fragrant, white blooms open in late spring and again in autumn. H & S 2m (6ft)


Cotoneaster horizontalis (Wall-spray)
Deciduous, stif branched, spreading shrub. Glossy, dark green leaves redden in late autumn. Pinkish-white flowers from late spring to early summer, followed by red fruits. H 60cm (2ft) S 1.5m (5ft)

Cotoneaster lacteus
Evergreen, arching shrub suitable for hedging. Oval dark green leaves with white flowers from early to mid-suummer. Long lasting red fruits in autumn-winter. H & S 5m (15ft) 

Drimys winteri (Winter’s Bark)
Evergreen, conical, sometimes shruby tree with glossy, pale or dark green leaves. Clusters of fragrant, star-shaped, white flowers in early summer. H 15m (50ft) S 7m (25ft)

x Fatshedera lizei (Tree Ivy)
Evergreen , loose branched shrub that forms amound of deeply lobed, glossy, deep-green leaves. May also be trained as a climber. Small white flowers in autumn. H & S 3m (10ft)

Itea ilicifolia
Evergreeen, bushy shrub with arching shoots and oval, glossy, dark green leaves. Long catkin-like racemes of greenish flowers appear in late summer and early autumn. H & S 3m (10ft)


Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralis / Castor oil Plant)
Evergreen, rounded, dense shrub.  Has stout shoots and very large, rounded, deeply lobed, glossy dark green leaves.  In mid-autumn, produces dense clusters of tiny, white flowers followed by rounded black fruits.  H and S 3m (10ft)

Jasminium nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine)
Deciduous, arching shrub with oval dark green leaves. Bright yellow flowers appear on slender, leafless, green shoots in winter and early spring.  H & S 3m (10ft)

Mahonia japonica 
Evergreen upright shrub with deep green leaves consisting of many spiny leaflets.  Long spreading sprays of fragrant, yellow flowers appear from late autumn to spring, succeeded by purple-blue fruits.
H 2m (6ft) S 3m (10ft)

Muehlenbeckia complexa 
Deciduous, mound forming shrub or twining climber. Slender wiry stems bear variably shaped (oval to fiddle shaped), dark green leaves. Produces, tiny star shaped, greenish-white flowers in mid-summer that are followed by small, spherical, waxy, white fruit. H 60cm - 1m (2-3ft) S 1m (3ft)

Osmanthus decorus 
Evergreen, upright, rounded, dense shrub. Has large, oblong, glossy, dark green leaves. Bears tubular, 4-lobed, white flowers in mid-spring, then egg-shaped blackish-purple fruits. H  3m (10ft)
S 5m (15ft)