Climbers and wall shrubs for shade
Most of us have walls or fences that are in shade for part or all of the day, either along garden boundaries or on the house. These are often left bare and neglected, but can easily be transformed by growing a range of shade-loving climbers and wall shrubs that will add vertical interest and help wildlife too.
Climbers naturally scramble upwards, clinging to supports using twining stems, tendrils, stem roots or sticky pads. Wall shrubs aren't natural climbers, but their woody stems can be trained against a wall or fence. Some are evergreen and keep their leaves all year, others are deciduous and lose them over winter.
These plants enjoy the cool, shady conditions of walls or fences that get little or no direct sun. Most prefer rich, moist soil, with annual mulches of garden compost, and may need additional watering, as they're often sheltered from rain by overhead tree canopies.
Shade loving climbers won't usually grow well in very sunny sites, which can be too harsh for them. Most don't like to dry out, so plant them 45cm (18in) away from the base of a wall, beyond the rainshadow, and lean the plant into the wall. Remember to water during dry spells.
Did you know?
Training the stems of climbers and wall shrubs horizontally rather than allowing them to grow vertically, not only helps to more effectively cover a bare expanse of wall, but also tends to encourage flowering along their stems rather than just at the top.
Climbers and wall shrubs: pruning established plants
Climbers: renovating overgrown plants
Climbers: taking cuttings
Climbers: training and pruning on planting
How to plant a climber
How to tie-in climbers
Woody waste: shredding and composting
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