Plants for north-facing walls – 11 picks for a shady boundary

1. Chocolate Vine

Hardiness: USDA 4-9 – Height: 33ft – Spread: 6.6ft – Best for: exotic appeal Proof that plants for north-facing walls don’t have to be boring, this one (Akebia quinata) has exotic looking cup-shaped flowers in dark purple which really do smell of chocolate. Try this Akebia Quinata,Chocolate Vine Potted Plant at Amazon.

2. Virginia Creeper

Hardiness: USDA 3-9 – Height: up to 50ft – Spread: up to 16ft – Best for: covering a large area This fast growing plant has dense, fresh green foliage during spring and summer, which turns to a show-stopping intense crimson mass in the fall. It is deciduous, so the leaves drop over winter, but it could be teamed with some evergreen English ivy to create all year round coverage.

3. Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea Petiolaris)

Hardiness: USDA 5-7 – Height: 50ft (15m) – Spread: 26ft (8m) – Best for: floral elegance This wonderful climbing plant for shade has large white flattened lacey flowers on heart-shaped leaves. A true shade loving flowering-shrub, it might take a while to get established, but once it has settled in, it will cover a wall using tiny roots which sprout when the stems touch another surface, so it will not need wires or a trellis to cling to.

4. English Ivy

Hardiness: USDA to zone 4 – Height: 26-39ft – Spread: 13ft – Best for: fast, easy coverage It has an undeserved bad reputation for taking over in the garden, and potentially damaging masonry with its aerial roots, but it is probably the best plant to cover a wall quickly and easily .

5. Euonymus ‘Fortunei’

Hardiness: USDA 4-9 – Height: 1-2ft – Spread: 3-4ft – Best for: low maintenance coverage A shrub rather than a climber, this hardy evergreen plant will nevertheless grow vertically against a wall if it is provided with climbing plant support, and it is a tough, hardy choice which is widely available.

6. Fatsia Japonica

Hardiness: USDA 8-10 – Height: 12ft – Spread: 12ft – Best for: growing in a pot Here is a bushy shrub to place against a north-facing wall, rather than to train up it. This plant will thrive in a container, so it can be used to create a focal point with its large, glossy evergreen leaves which have a lovely sculptural shape.

7. Honeysuckle

Hardiness: USDA 4-9 – Height: varies according to species – Spread: varies according to species – Best for: creating a cottage garden look If you've already learned how to grow honeysuckle, then you'll know that not only is it a strong and vigorous climber, but most varieties have sweetly scented flowers all through summer in gorgeous shades of clotted cream, golden yellow, blush pink, scarlet and orange too.

8. Silk-Tassel Bush (Garrya Elliptica)

Hardiness: USDA 8-10 – Height: 13ft – Spread: 13ft – Best for: winter interest This bushy, evergreen shrub with wavy edged greenish gray leaves produces unusual silvery catkins from midwinter to early spring. At around 8in long, they shimmer in the breeze and create a stunning seasonal display.

9. Climbing And Rambling Roses

Hardiness: USDA 4-10, but check the variety as this may vary – Height: varies according to type – Spread: varies according to type – Best for: romantic garden style According to the rose growing experts at David Austin Roses there are some roses which will work in a shady spot against a north-facing wall. 'Although in general roses will not thrive in a position where there is too much shade, there are some varieties which will cope with four to five hours of good sun per day,' they say. 'Just avoid areas with low hanging branches and competition from roots or trees and other shrubs.'

10. Clematis ‘Niobe’

Hardiness: USDA 4-9 – Height:  6-8ft – Spread: 1.5-2ft – Best for: rich color If you're looking for plants for north-facing walls that will give you lots of intense color, make sure you add this one to your planting list. With large, velvety red flowers blooming on dark green leaves through the summer it creates a mass of deep color. It’s not the only clematis which will tolerate a shady spot, but this one is an absolute beauty. The flowers measure six inches across.

11. Fatshedera Lizei (Fat-Headed Lizzie)

Hardiness: USDA 7-10 – Height: 4.9-8.2ft – Spread: 4.9-8.2ft – Best for: a stylish courtyard solution A cross between an ivy and a fatsia (a climber and a shrub), this architectural plant is a stylish way to clad a north-facing wall with green. It has shiny, leathery leaves and subtle small greenish white flowers.

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