A shady backyard or a north-facing wall are always difficult places to find suitable greenery. However, there are some plants that also develop very well in shady locations. It does not always have to be green climbing plants. There are also very beautiful flowering climbing plants and edible climbing plants that are suitable for shady locations.

Green wall decoration

Evergreen plants are particularly popular climbing plants. It is important that not every climbing plant is suitable for every masonry. Climbing plants often cause great damage, especially on historical masonry, which is why only climbing plants that do not develop roots on the tendrils should be used there. However, such plants required an additional climbing aid .

Self-climbing vine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia):

The virgin vine originally comes from North America and quickly became a popular plant in Europe to hide unsightly walls. In summer, the self-climbing virgin vine is green, as soon as autumn comes, it impresses with strong red tones. In addition, the virgin vine produces bluish fruits in autumn, which are not edible for humans, but are a small treat for birds.

  • up to 12 m growth height
  • 50 – 100 cm growth per year
  • climbing on almost all substrates
  • greenish inconspicuous flower

The advantage of the spiny vine is that while it can climb a variety of surfaces with minimal structure, it will not form roots to anchor itself. It does not damage masonry, but once established it grows so rapidly that it can cover an entire house in a few years if left uncut.

Note: There are other species of the virgin vine that differ in the shape of the leaves. Other popular species are the common vine (Parthenocissus vitacea) and the tricuspid vine (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

Ivy (Hedera helix):

Ivy is the classic plant for greening shady locations. It is one of the climbing plants that develop roots on the tendrils and can therefore also hold on to smoother surfaces. However, it is also suitable for creating lush foliage in shady locations that are difficult to establish. In addition, the ivy is evergreen and does not shed leaves in autumn. It is also an important forage plant for insects, since its flowers are inconspicuous, but so late in the year that there are hardly any flowering plants left.

  • up to 10 m growth height
  • 50 – 70 cm growth per year
  • self-climbing by means of roots
  • evergreen

There are several cultivated forms of ivy that differ in the shape and color of the leaves. For example, the “Dentata Variegata” variety with its cream-yellow leaf edges is particularly decorative. The “Goldheart” variety is somewhat weaker in growth and has a white leaf center and green leaf edges. The “Sagittifolia” variety has much more pointed leaves and therefore looks more elegant.

flowering plants in the shade

In locations with a lot of shade, there is no need to do without lush flowers, even if the selection of varieties is somewhat more difficult. The disadvantage of flowering climbing plants is that they are usually not evergreen and shed their leaves in autumn. In addition, their nutrient requirement is higher, if this is not covered, they form hardly any flowers or no flowers at all.

Waldrebe (Clematis spec.):

The clematis is one of the most important climbing plants, which, depending on the variety, is also suitable for shady locations. The cultivated forms of clematis are closely related to the native clematis (Clematis vitalba), although the flowers of the native species are much less conspicuous. Nevertheless, the wild form would also be suitable for greening locations with a lot of shade. However, if you want colorful and large flowers, you should choose one of the following varieties:

  • Frances Rivis: intense blue flowers, up to 3 m high
  • Constance: double pink flowers, weak growth
  • Sibirica alba: white flowers, moderately strong growth
Note: The clematis absolutely needs a trellis. Scaffolding made of wooden struts that are firmly connected to a wall or wall are ideal.

Akebie (Akebia auinata):

The Akebia has not yet been found in gardens very often, but it impresses with colorful, delicate flowers. The female flowers are blue-violet and arranged in racemes, while the male flowers bloom in a delicate pink. In addition, the male flowers exude a light fragrance.

Roundworm (Celastrus orbiculatus):

The round-leaved tree shrike convinces me with its small and light flowers, but in very large numbers. The tree shrike is unisex, and in order for female plants to produce fruit, they need a pollinating partner. However, the fruits are also very attractive in autumn, which is why it is advisable to cultivate a male and a female plant.

Tip: The tendrils of the tree shrike are very heavy and require a correspondingly robust trellis. Metal scaffolding is ideal, as wooden slats can often no longer bear the weight after several years.

Kletterhortensie (Hydrangea petiolaris):

If you are looking for climbing plants that grow tall but do not grow too much, you will find them in the climbing hydrangea . Although it can reach heights of up to 10 meters, it takes 15 to 20 years to do so. As a result, the intervals for a pruning are also very large. As a rule, it is sufficient to shorten the climbing hydrangea once every 3 – 5 years.

The white flowers of the climbing hydrangea, which look like countless little white clouds on a green background, are particularly attractive. It blooms from around June to July and, due to its growth, is also suitable for cultivation in a bucket. There, however, it also needs a climbing aid, but can be used as a mobile privacy screen, for example.

Not hardy climbing plants

An alternative to permanent planting are non-hardy climbing plants. There are some shady climbers that would be perennial but will not survive outdoors due to the freezing winter temperatures. These climbing plants usually come from warm regions and grow very quickly. Within one season they can easily grow several meters and form a dense privacy screen, for example. If you want other plants next season, simply let them freeze over the winter and remove the leftovers. Alternatively, the plants can be cut back and dug up in the fall. They are overwintered in a frost-free, protected indoor area in buckets and planted out again next spring.

Trichter bindweed (Ipomoea indica):

A particularly fast climber is the morning glory . It is very flexible in terms of its climbing aid. A few thin twigs that are leaned against the wall, for example, are already sufficient for them. However, the twigs or branches should be long enough, because it can reach heights of up to 3 m. Although the flowers of these climbing plants last only one day, they produce countless new flowers every day in suitable locations. The advantage is that the morning glory also thrives on poor soil, but it should be calcareous and permeable.


  • Crimson Rambler: red flower with a white centre
  • Heavenly Blue: blue flower
  • Sunrise Serenade: purple-red flowers, semi-double
  • Scarlet Star: magenta flower with a white centre

Großblumige Pfeifenblume (Aristolochia grandiflora):

An impressive, albeit unusual flower shape is the Dutchman’s snipe. Pipe flowers are found in different climate zones around the world. There’s even a distantly related native species, but it doesn’t have as pretty showy flowers. Especially varieties from tropical regions produce very large, heart-shaped, red-brown flowers. The downside, however, is that the buds smell rather unpleasant as they tend to attract insects looking for carrion.

Climbing useful plants

Climbing plants can not only be decorative or form a privacy screen, but can also be used in the kitchen, for example. Such plants are ideal for smaller gardens if you want to green shady areas. Suitable plants are often in short supply there, especially when it comes to kitchen gardens. However, there are some climbing plants that can later also be used for culinary purposes.

Hopfen (Humulus lupulus):

The hop is one of the oldest cultivated plants, which requires only a little help when tendrils. The reason for this is that it has very stiff and well-adherent glandular hairs that can stick well even to smooth surfaces. Even a few taut wires are enough for him to wind himself up. The growth in height of the hops is remarkable, because under good conditions they alone grow 30 cm per day. It thrives very well in the shade, but requires a male and a female plant for pollination. Only the female plants produce the typical umbels, which are later used to brew beer.

Ray pen (Actinidia):

The ray pen is better known under the name “Kiwi”. The kiwi comes in different shapes and the radiant pen is also suitable for locations with a lot of shade. When choosing a variety, you should make sure that it has good frost hardiness and that it also tolerates late frosts reasonably well. You should also make sure that the plant is self-fertile. Otherwise, a male and a female plant are needed again for fruit to form.
On average, the ray pen is 3 m high and grows around 50 cm per year. Although it loses its foliage in winter, it remains on the plants for a relatively long time. The radiate pen is not a strongly twining climber and the main branches should therefore always be attached to the trellis.

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