Climbing plants to brighten up shady areas in the garden

December, 2023
Darren Spalding

Everyone loves climbing plants in the garden for their beauty and functionality. Whether it's a climbing rose, clematis or jasmine, climbing plants are versatile additions to any garden, as they can be used to brighten up just about any area. When it comes time to choose what types of climbing plants you want in your shade garden, here are some of the best ones that will add instant colour and life:

Best climbing plants for shade

  1. Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
  2. Clematis Montana
  3. Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’
  4. Hedera (Ivy)
  5. Parthenocissus
  6. Jasminum nudiflorum
  7. Solanum jasminoides Album
  8. Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle)
  9. Clematis Alpina, Clematis macropetala, and Jackmanii
  10. Climbing Roses

The plants below all thrive in shady conditions, usually preferring rich soil or poor soil. Some like dense shade whereas others prefer partial shade. It is a good idea to take this into account when deciding which plants live best in your spot.

Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)

1.Hydrangea anomala petiolaris

Climbing Hydrangea will thrive in a shady part of the garden and grow up to 50 feet high, making them ideal for covering large areas. These plants don't need any support from poles or trellises because they use their aerial roots to attach themselves to walls and fences.

They produce long cone-shaped flowers that are white. These flowers are produced on growth from the previous year in May to June. If you provide it with well-drained soil, then you should only prune once flowering is finished and this will result in blooms the following year more frequently. It has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Excellence

Pin on Outside/Curb Appeal

2.Clematis montana

Clematis Montana is a hardy clematis that grows up to 30 feet high and produces large flowers in shades of pink. It is commonly known as the ‘Bill Baker' variety, but this can also be called Clematis armandii in some places. This type of climbing plant flower will produce masses of flowers from February through June if it gets enough sunlight, so ensure you plant them somewhere they are exposed to plenty of light.

Climbing Clematis needs at least three years before full blooms start to appear though there will be smaller clusters of blooms around the previous year's growth if planted early enough. To encourage the most flowering plants possible, prune away old stems once flowering has finished for the season so that more new shoots come out.

Don’t allow the roots to dry out and plant it in well-drained soil. This climbing plant is also a good choice if you want to grow it up a pillar or wall as it will work its way through crevices as ivy does.

Photo of the entire plant of Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ' Halliana') posted by beenthere -

3.Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’

This variety of Honeysuckle can be hardy at temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius making it ideal for growing up north in the UK where winter nights are cold. It is designed for areas with shade but they still need some sunlight on warmer days. The plants will produce flowers all summer until autumn and these are white with yellow tips.

Well-drained, moist soil will help the seeds to germinate quickly and establish themselves with a good root structure. Prune it throughout the summer once flowering finishes so that you can enjoy more large flowers next year.

Hedera - Ivy

4.Hedera (Ivy)

Some people are put off by how invasive Ivy can be in an area where there is no competing shrubbery, but if it's planted in a place that needs some light shade then its growth can be kept under control as there will not be enough sun for it to grow as fast. To get the most from Hedera, prune back after flowering has finished to keep the plants healthy and ensure new flowers are produced every year.

Parthenocissus henryana - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine


Parthenocissus is a popular climbing plant and grows up to 15 feet high. It produces flowers in shades of white and pink that look like grape clusters and appear from June through September. This means they can be enjoyed for a while even after the bloom has finished then if you prune it back, you should get another mass flowering period next year.

Parthenocissus would seem to prefer areas with dense shade but don't let them dry out too much or it will lose leaves more easily. It may not need support if you are growing on a north-facing wall but otherwise try using stakes positioned about halfway up the stems as this will allow the branches to droop down over them.

Winter Jasmine Care: How To Grow Jasminum Nudiflorum

6.Jasminum nudiflorum

A beautiful climber known as the Winter Jasmine is perfect for partial shade on well-drained soil. It will grow up to be medium-sized and needs a support frame to help it grow upright.

This plant from New Zealand has stunning yellow flowers in the winter and early spring after it sheds its leaves for the season. The flowers appear after a dormant period lasting from fall to early summer and are breathtaking when coupled with a little shelter from bad weather. It grows up 2-2.5 meters tall by around 1 meter across, with an airy vine-like stem and small green leaves as protection against raindrops or snow mostly hitting on its head rather than elsewhere on its body. Left unchecked, this plant also makes for great ground cover in an area that isn't very sunny.

If you are planting Jasminum nudiflorum, water it a little during the first few months until it establishes its roots and starts to grow new leaves. It should also be fed with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in mid-April every year and continue to enjoy flowering for years after.

Solanum laxum 'Album' (Potato Vine)

7. Solanum jasminoides Album

A white-flowered variety of the well-known potato vine is a fast grower and needs support. The fruit it produces are edible, but they taste quite unpleasant.

Lonicera periclymenum - Honeysuckle

8. Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle)

Lonicera periclymenum can be used as a climber or ground cover and it is hardy to minus 10 degrees Celsius. It flowers in mid-summer which means you still get to enjoy the flowers after July but before the frost sets in.

Clematis Alpina Constance 3L - Whitehall Garden Centre

9. Clematis Alpina

Clematis Alpina is a plant that will survive hard frosts and it flowers at the end of summer. It grows quickly and thrives in partial shade so planting it behind your house would be excellent if you have a cut-off corner to work with, or you could try growing it up some trellis against your garden fence. 

How to Train and Prune Climbing Roses

10. Climbing Roses

In the summer, the climber produces fragrant white flowers and if you cut a stem before it dies back then it will re-grow next year. The flowers come in a range of colours, including pink and red.

It will need pruning every year to allow more sunlight to reach the rest of the plant but it is best left to grow into large bushes as you can then enjoy their shade during summer. Prune by cutting back at least two-thirds of the stems in spring or early summer.

Frequently asked questions

What are the quickest growing climbing plants?

  • Perennial sweet pea.
  • Virginia creeper.
  • Nasturtium.
  • Sweet pea.
  • Russian vine.
  • Clematis tangutica.
  • Rambling roses.
  • Kiwi.

Will trumpet vine grow in shade?

Trumpet vine will grow in shade, but they can be finicky. A cool dark spot is a very good place to start, but they will also do just fine with a little bit of afternoon sun filtered through tall mature trees.

Will morning glory grow in shade?

It could if it's placed in the right location. Morning glory is a fast grower and can tolerate conditions that other plants would not.

Will black-eyed Susan grow in shade?

Yes, it will. The black-eyed Susan loves full sun or partial shade but it will do best with at least a few hours of sunlight each day.

Can you plant morning glories under a tree?

Yes, you can. Morning glories are a fast grower and they do extremely well when there is protection from the hot afternoon sun that will turn your garden into an oven.

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