climbers on a north facing wall in a garden

9 Hardy Climbers for a North Facing Wall

Decorating a north facing wall with a climber or two is a great way to instantly inject some colour and fun into the space. However, with so many choices out there, it can be hard to decide when choosing climbers for a north facing wall. Fortunately, from this range of good plants for north facing walls, we have chosen nine of the best that will grow and thrive in these conditions. So, if you’re here to choose, once and for all, which is the best climber for a north facing wall, read on to browse our selection and make the right choice in your garden! 

What Are Hardy Climbers?

a close up of leaves of climbers for a north facing wall

Hardy climbers are an excellent way to add colour, texture, and interest to a garden and are a popular choice for covering walls, fences, and other structures. These plants are characterised by their ability to climb and cling to vertical surfaces using tendrils, aerial roots, or twining stems. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at what hardy climbers are, what they look like, what they like and dislike, and some interesting facts about them.

What Do Hardy Climbers Look Like?

Hardy climbers come in various shapes, sizes, and colours but share a few key identifying features. These plants can climb and cling to surfaces using specialised structures such as tendrils, aerial roots, or twining stems. In addition, they often have dense foliage that can provide excellent coverage and a lush appearance. Some common examples of hardy climbers include ivy, clematis, and wisteria.

What Do Hardy Climbers Like?

Hardy climbers prefer to be grown in moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Also, they will require a site that receives at least partial shade, especially if you are growing them in a north-facing location. Although many hardy climbers can tolerate a range of soil types and pH levels, they generally do best in slightly acidic soil. Some common examples of hardy climbers that do well in a north-facing wall include Virginia creeper, climbing hydrangea, and climbing roses.

What Do Hardy Climbers Dislike?

Hardy climbers do not like hot, dry conditions, which can cause them to become stressed and vulnerable to pests and diseases. Also, they don’t like soil that is overly wet or poorly drained, which can lead to root rot and other problems. In addition, some hardy climbers may be sensitive to certain chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides, so avoiding using these products near the plants is important. 

Did You Know? Facts About Hardy Climbers

  • Hardy climbers can climb and cling to vertical surfaces using a variety of specialised structures, including tendrils, aerial roots, and twining stems.
  • Many hardy climbers can tolerate a range of soil types and pH levels, but they generally do best in slightly acidic soil.
  • Hardy climbers are a popular choice for covering walls, fences, and other structures because they can provide excellent coverage and a lush appearance.
  • Some hardy climbers can bloom throughout the growing season, while others may have more limited blooming periods.
  • Many hardy climbers can attract pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, to the garden.

What Will I Need To Grow North Facing Climbers?

climbing plants on a north facing wall

Choosing climbers for a north facing wall are an excellent way to add interest and colour to these shady spots. Here are some tips for north facing climbers to help you get off to the best start:

Choose the Right Climbing Plants

When choosing hardy climbers for your north facing wall, you should choose varieties best suited to your climate and soil conditions. Some good options for north-facing walls include ivy, clematis, and climbing hydrangea. Also, consider plants such as winter jasmine or evergreen clematis if you’re looking for an evergreen climber for a north facing wall. However, when choosing your north facing climbers, check their hardiness zone and ensure they suit your area.

Choose the right climbing plants for north facing walls with our guide on climbing plants.

Prepare the Soil

Before planting your climbers, ensure your garden’s soil is well-drained and fertile. Consider adding organic matter, such as compost or leaf mould, to improve soil structure if the soil is too heavy or compacted, as this will help the plants establish a strong root system and thrive.

Provide a Support Structure

Climbing plants will need some sort of support structure to grow up. There are plenty of support options for north facing climbers, such as a trellis, wires, or wall-mounted plant support. However, ensure the support structure is sturdy and securely fixed to the wall, as climbing plants can become heavy over time.

Water Regularly

Climbing plants need regular watering to thrive. Water the plants deeply, but avoid over-watering, which can lead to root rot. The watering frequency will depend on the specific plant and the climate, but generally, aim to keep the soil consistently moist.

Fertilise as Needed

Some climbers may benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertiliser. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and timing. Generally, it’s a good idea to fertilise in the spring when the plant begins to grow again in midsummer.

Maintenance

It’s important to perform regular maintenance to keep your north facing climbers healthy and looking their best. This can include pruning to shape the plant and remove dead or diseased growth. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for pests and diseases and to treat them promptly if they do occur.

Hardy Climbers For A North Facing Wall

an evergreen climber for a north facing wall on a balcony

Choosing the right plant is essential for success when growing climbing plants on a north facing wall. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a selection of the best climbing plants for north facing walls. These plants are well-suited to the cooler conditions and lower light levels of a north facing wall and will add colour and interest to your garden.

1. Honeysuckle

climbing honeysuckle on a north facing wall

For good reason, Honeysuckle is a popular choice for north facing climbers. This hardy plant features fragrant flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. However, as a twining vine, honeysuckle can reach up to 20 feet in height and spread out as much as 10 feet, so would not benefit smaller walls.

Honeysuckle prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate partial shade, making it an excellent choice for north-facing walls. However, it is important to note that while honeysuckle can grow in full shade, it will produce fewer flowers in these conditions.

Some of the best honeysuckle varieties for north-facing walls include:

  • Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’ – This variety produces fragrant pink flowers from June to September and can reach a height of up to 20 feet
  • Lonicera periclymenum ‘Belgica’ – This variety features fragrant white and pink flowers that bloom from June to August and can reach a height of up to 20 feet
  • Lonicera henryi – This evergreen variety produces fragrant white or yellow flowers from June to September and can reach a height of up to 20 feet

2. Euonymus Fortunei ‘Emerald N’ Gold’

Euonymus Fortunei’ Emerald N’ Gold’ is a great option for a north facing wall due to its striking foliage, ability to tolerate shade, and low-maintenance requirements. In addition, this hardy climber features shiny, variegated green leaves with a distinctive gold margin and stays this colour all year long. As such, this is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for an evergreen climber for north facing walls. 

Euonymus Fortunei’ Emerald N’ Gold’ prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate shade, making it an excellent choice for a north-facing wall. It is also relatively low-maintenance and requires little pruning, although it can grow up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Other good varieties of Euonymus for a north-facing wall include:

  • Euonymus japonicus’ Microphyllus’ – This variety is a slow-growing evergreen with small, dark green leaves. It can grow up to 6 feet tall and is suitable for smaller walls or trellises.
  • Euonymus fortunei’ Silver Queen’ – This variety has silver and green variegated leaves and can grow up to 20 feet tall. It is also low-maintenance and can tolerate shade.

3. Hedera Helix’ glacier’ 

climbing ivy on a north facing wall

Hedera helix’ Glacier’ is another evergreen climber for a north facing wall, with variegated leaves that feature a mix of green, white, and silver. This plant’s ability to tolerate shade and its attractive foliage.

Hedera helix’ Glacier’ prefers well-drained soil and can grow up to 30 feet tall if given proper support. It is also relatively low-maintenance and requires minimal pruning.

Other good varieties of Hedera for a north-facing wall include:

  • Hedera helix ‘Goldheart’ – This variety has heart-shaped leaves with yellow centres and green edges. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and is suitable for larger walls or trellises.
  • Hedera helix ‘Arborescens’ – This variety has larger, darker green leaves than other Hedera varieties and can grow up to 50 feet tall. It is a great option for covering large walls or tall structures.

4. Climbing Hydrangea

white hydrangea climbers for a north facing wall

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) is a deciduous climbing plant that can grow up to 50 feet tall. It features large, dark green leaves and clusters of white flowers that bloom during summer. This plant is one of the best plants for a north-facing wall due to its ability to tolerate shade and impressive size.

Climbing hydrangea prefers moist, well-drained soil and can be slow to establish, but once it takes hold, it is relatively low-maintenance. It is also self-clinging, meaning it will attach itself to walls or other support structures without additional support.

Other good varieties of climbing hydrangea for a north-facing wall include:

  • Hydrangea petiolaris’ Silver Lining’ – This variety has variegated foliage with a colouring of green and white, making it an attractive option even when not in bloom.
  • Hydrangea petiolaris’ Miranda’ – This variety has green leaves with a bright yellow edge, adding a pop of colour to a north-facing wall.

Read More: Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea Growing Guide

5. Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a deciduous climbing plant that can grow up to 50 feet tall. It features five-lobed leaves that turn a brilliant red colour in autumn, bringing some attractive colour to your north-facing wall.

This plant is relatively easy to grow and prefers moist, well-drained soil. It can also tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy or heavy soils. However, Virginia Creeper can be aggressive and will quickly cover walls or other structures. So, if you’re not looking for quick coverage on a large north facing wall, this may not be the best of our north facing climbers for you. 

Some good varieties of Virginia Creeper for a north-facing wall include:

  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia’ Star Showers’ – This variety has variegated foliage with green leaves and white edges, adding interest to a north-facing wall even when not in bloom.
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Engelmannii’ – This variety has larger leaves and is known for its exceptional fall colour.

6. Rose

Roses are a classic climbing plant that will add a touch of elegance and romance to any location, including a north-facing wall. There are several varieties of roses, and they can vary in size, shape, colour, and fragrance.

Roses prefer a sunny spot, but many varieties will tolerate partial shade and cooler temperatures. They also require well-drained, fertile soil that is slightly acidic. As such, they are one of the best climbers for a north facing wall. 

However, roses require regular pruning to maintain their shape and promote healthy growth. In addition, they may benefit from regular feeding with a balanced fertiliser, so you should expect some maintenance with this climber.

When choosing a rose variety for a north-facing wall, consider those that are hardy and disease-resistant. Some good options include:

  • New Dawn’ – a pink-flowering climbing rose that can grow up to 20 feet,
  • Zephirine Drouhin’ – A fragrant pink rose that is thornless and can thrive in shade
  • Iceberg’ – Another popular choice that features white flowers and can tolerate cooler temperatures.

7. Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a highly fragrant evergreen climber with glossy, dark green leaves that turn bronze in winter. It produces clusters of small, white, star-shaped flowers from late spring to early summer, which emit a sweet scent that can perfume an entire garden.

This plant prefers well-drained, fertile soil in full sun to partial shade, making it well-suited for a north facing wall. It can tolerate some shade, but too much can inhibit flowering. Star Jasmine is also quite drought tolerant once established, but it will benefit from regular watering during hot and dry spells.

When grown along a north-facing wall, Star Jasmine provides a beautiful contrast to the often-cool colour palette of this area. It is also an excellent plant for covering walls, fences, or trellises, as it is a vigorous grower that can quickly reach heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters).

Popular varieties of Star Jasmine for north facing walls include:

  • Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Variegatum’ – This variety features variegated leaves with cream and green colouring, making it a visually interesting choice for a north-facing wall.
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Frostproof’ – As the name suggests, this variety is known for its ability to withstand frost and cold temperatures, making it a good choice for gardens in cooler climates.
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides’ Summer Sunset’ – This variety produces pink-tinged new growth and deeper pink flowers in the summer, adding a pop of colour to a north-facing wall.

8. Clematis x Durandii

Clematis x durandii, also known as the Durand clematis, is a hardy, deciduous climber that is great for growing along north-facing walls. Its stunning deep blue characterises it, with bell-shaped flowers that bloom from midsummer through early fall, followed by attractive fluffy seed heads. 

This clematis prefers moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter and benefits from a regular watering schedule during the growing season. It can tolerate partial shade but thrives in full sun exposure. As for pruning, clematis x durandii should be cut back to around 12 inches in early spring to promote new growth. 

Some good varieties of clematis to plant for a north-facing wall include:

  • Clematis x durandii’ Alba’ – This variety produces white flowers with a hint of blue at the base of each petal.
  • Clematis x durandii’ Casseden’ – This cultivar produces larger, more deeply coloured flowers than the species.
  • Clematis x durandii’ Blue Bird’ – This variety features deep blue flowers with prominent yellow anthers.

9. Climbing Rose’ Maigold’

Climbing Rose’ Maigold’ is a deciduous climbing rose that can reach 3-4 metres in height. It produces bright yellow, double flowers with a light fragrance, blooming from late spring to early summer. The plant has glossy, dark green leaves that are oval-shaped with serrated edges.

This rose thrives in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and in a location that receives full sun or partial shade. It can also tolerate some drought and salt exposure. As a hardy plant, it’s a great option for north-facing walls as it can tolerate cooler temperatures and limited sunlight.

Some good varieties to plant for a north facing wall include:

  • Rosa’ New Dawn’ – A vigorous and disease-resistant climber with soft pink, fragrant blooms that fade to pale pink as they age.
  • Rosa ‘Iceberg’ – A repeat-blooming climber with clusters of white, lightly fragrant flowers that bloom throughout the season.
  • Rosa ‘Golden Showers’ – A vigorous climber with fragrant, bright yellow flowers that bloom in abundance during the summer.

Other Climbers for North Facing Walls Worth Checking Out

Naturally, the list of hardy climbing plants for a north facing wall is extensive, and our selection can’t cover them all! So, although we have detailed our favourite climbers for a north facing wall in this article, here are a few more climbers for a north facing wall that might interest you: 

  • Akebia quinata: This semi-evergreen climber has unusual maroon flowers and is great for covering a fence or wall.
  • Chaenomeles speciosa: Also known as Japanese quince, this deciduous shrub can be trained to climb a wall or trellis and has showy, bright pink or red flowers in spring.
  • Lonicera periclymenum: Commonly known as woodbine or honeysuckle, this deciduous climber has fragrant, tubular, often pink or white flowers.
  • Parthenocissus tricuspidata: Also known as Boston ivy, this vigorous deciduous climber has green leaves that turn red in autumn and is great for covering a large wall.
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides: This evergreen climber has fragrant white flowers in summer and is great for a sheltered spot against a north facing wall.

Finding The Best Climbers For Your North Facing Wall

Just because you have a north-facing wall doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beauty of climbing plants. There are plenty of climbers for north facing walls that can thrive in less-than-ideal conditions. There are many options, from the vibrant blooms of the climbing rose ‘Maigold’ to the subtle charm of clematis x durandii. An evergreen climber for a north facing wall like star jasmine or ivy may be your best bet for year-round greenery. Ultimately, the best climber for your north facing wall will depend on your specific growing conditions and aesthetic preferences. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different north facing climbers and climbing plants for north facing walls to find the perfect fit for your space. You can transform your north facing wall into a stunning vertical garden with patience and care.

FAQs

What Is The Best Evergreen Climber For A North Facing Wall?

The best evergreen climber for a north facing wall depends on your unique taste and style. However, some of the wonderful evergreen climbers for a north facing wall include:

– Hedera helix (English Ivy)
– Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
– Lonicera henryi (Henry’s Honeysuckle)
– Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)
– Garrya elliptica (Silk Tassel Bush)
– Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine)
– Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ (Wintercreeper)
– Clematis armandii (Evergreen Clematis)
– Pyracantha (Firethorn)
– Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine)

Keep in mind that while these plants are evergreen, they may still experience some leaf loss during harsh winters or in very shaded areas.

Do I Need To Provide Support For Climbing Plants? 

Yes, most climbers will need some form of support in order to grow vertically. This can include a trellis, wires, or even wall-mounted plant support.

When Is The Best Time To Plant These Climbers? 

The best time to plant climbers for north facing walls is typically in the spring or autumn when temperatures are mild, and the soil is moist.

How Often Should I Water My Climbing Plants?

You should water climbers regularly, particularly during dry periods. However, not over-watering them is important, as this can lead to root rot.

Do These Climbers Require Any Special Care? 

While north facing climbers are generally low-maintenance, they may require pruning to keep them under control and to promote healthy growth. Additionally, some climbers may be susceptible to pests and diseases, so monitoring them regularly and promptly addressing any issues is important.

Resources

Gardenia. (n.d.). Hardiness Zones in the United Kingdom. Gardenia. Retrieved from https://www.gardenia.net/guide/hardiness-zones-in-the-united-kingdom [accessed 25/04/23]

Pendergast, K. (n.d.). How Long Does It Take for a Honeysuckle Vine to Grow Tall? Home Guides | SF Gate. Retrieved from https://homeguides.sfgate.com/long-honeysuckle-vine-grow-tall-56349.html [accessed 25/04/23]

BBC Studios. (2021). Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n’ Gold’. Gardeners’ World. Retrieved from https://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/euonymus-fortunei-emerald-n-gold/ [accessed 25/04/23]

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. (n.d.). Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=paqu2 [accessed 25/04/23]

RHS. (n.d.). Hedera helix’ Glacier’ (v) (PBR) ivy’ Glacier’/RHS Gardening. RHS. Retrieved from https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/45202/hedera-helix-glacier-(v)/details [accessed 25/04/23]

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