Plants for Walls, Fences and Other Vertical Surfaces in Containers in the Shade (Add Interest to Plain Walls)

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In this article, plants for wall, fences and other vertical surfaces in containers in the shade. In a previous article climbing plants for vertical surfaces in containers in full sun has been discussed, and now it is time to extend our attention to growing vertical plants in the shade. This is a more difficult growing regime, as plants tend not to do as well in the shade as they do in full sun. It is not impossible but let us say the choices are more limited.

Plants that are grown up vertical surfaces are generally used in small gardens, where the beautiful colours of the flowers and leaves add interest, whilst occupying little horizontal growing area.

Many climbers like their roots in the shade, whilst their stems climb towards the sun. Clematis is a perfect example as most of them are happy if the twine is bathed in sunlight for a few hours per day, especially in summer. Clematis ‘Niobe’ likes to be grown on north-facing walls, whilst others like ‘Nelly Moser’ like the shade. This is because the sun can bleach out the flower colours.

Deep shade is not a problem for natural forest dwellers, such as Parthenocissus and ivy. Others although will take some shade, will need some sunshine for part of the day in order to thrive.

What follows are climbers that can be grown on vertical surfaces in containers in the shade:

CLEMATIS ALPINA (Alpine Clematis)

Alpine Clematis
Clematis Alpina

This is a deciduous climber with divided, wide green leaves, from which lantern-shaped, blue, pink or white flowers appear from early to late spring. Grow this 3m tall climber on a trellis, fence or wall in a multipurpose compost in a large container, where the roots will prefer to be in the shade.

CLEMATIS ‘Bill Mackenzie’

Clematis 'Bill Mackenzie'
Clematis ‘Bill Mackenzie’

This deciduous climber has dark green leaves, where large bell-shaped waxy, yellow flowers appear from mid-summer to late autumn. This 7m tall climber will require to be grown in a large container full of multipurpose compost, against a house wall or a fence. In late winter to early spring cut back.


Clematis cirrhosa
Clematis cirrhosa

This is an evergreen variety of Clematis that has jagged-edged green leaves. This 3m tall climber produces small, white bell-shaped flowers in late winter to early summer. Grow it in multipurpose compost up a sturdy support structure in a sheltered site.


Clematis Montana
Clematis Montana

A very vigorous 12m tall, deciduous Clematis that has divided, mid-green leaves. Grow this Clematis up a very large wall structure such as a wall or pergola in a multipurpose compost in a very large container. It produces masses of scented, white flowers with yellow centres from late spring to early summer.

CLEMATIS ‘Nelly Moser’

Clematis 'Nelly Mosser'
Clematis ‘Nelly Mosser’

This 3m tall deciduous climber has dark green leaves, where rose-mauve blooms with carmine stripes on each petal appear in early summer. Grow this clematis up a trellis, pergola, or fence in a large container full of multipurpose compost. Would appreciate being trimmed lightly in late winter to early spring.


Clematis 'Niobe'
Clematis ‘Niobe’

A 3m tall deciduous Clematis that has dark green leaves, where throughout summer masses of velvety deep-red flowers appear with yellow antlers. Grow this climber up trellis pergola or walls in a large container full of multipurpose compost. Trim lightly in late winter to early spring.

CLEMATIS ‘White Swan’

Clematis 'White Swan'
Clematis ‘White Swan’

A beautiful large deciduous climber that produces divided, green leaves and nodding open white, bell-shaped flowers appear in late spring to early summer. Grow this 3m tall clematis on a trellis, wall or pergola in a large container full of multipurpose compost. Prune after flowering to keep it tidy.

FORSYTHIA SUSPENSA (Weeping Forsythia)

Weeping forsythia
Forsythia suspensa

This is a deciduous shrub that has slender, arching stems, with toothed green leaves. In early spring this 3m tall shrub produces masses of nodding bright yellow flowers on bare branches. Grow this shrub against walls as a wall shrub. It prefers to be grown in a large container full of multipurpose compost.


Holboellia coriacea
Holboellia coriacea

This 5m tall evergreen climber has dark leaves that are divided into leaflets. In spring, pale purple male flowers and white-cream in female flowers appear. Occasionally this is followed by purple sausage like seedpods. Grow in a large container against a wall in multipurpose compost.


Itea virginica
Itea virginica

A 3m tall evergreen shrub that has arching stems full of oval, dark spiky leaves. In mid-summer to early autumn, snow-white catkins are produced that are striking to look at. Grow this shrub in a large container full of ericaceous compost, where it appreciates being grown against walls or fences in a sheltered spot.

JASMINIUM HUMILE (Italian Jasmine)

Italian Jasmine
Jasminium humile

This is an evergreen, climbing shrub that has glossy, bright green leaves, which are divided into leaflets. In spring to autumn fragrant, tubular, bright yellow blooms appear. Grow up against a wall or in a sheltered spot in a large container full of multipurpose compost, where it will grow up to 2.5m in height.


Sweet Pea
Lathyrus odoratus

This familiar annual climber has oval, green leaves, where throughout summer white, pink, purple or red, highly fragrant flowers appear. Grow this 3m tall annual up trellis-es, canes or pergolas in a large pot full of multipurpose compost, where the flowers need to be regularly picked in order to produce more blooms.

LONICERA x BROWNII (Scarlett Trumpet Honey Suckle)

Lonicera brownii
Lonicera brownii

This is a semi-evergreen or deciduous climber. This 4m tall twining climber has blue-green rounded leaves, where from summer to early autumn, tubular, red flowers that are unscented are produced. Grow against large support in a large container full of multipurpose compost.


Lonicera periclymenum
Lonicera periclymenum

This 7m tall honeysuckle in a twining climber that has dark, oval-shaped leaves. In summer fragrant, yellow-white, red flowers are produced, which are followed by red berries. Grow it in a large container full of multipurpose compost.


Lonicera x tellmanniana
Lonicera x tellmanniana

A deciduous, woody, twining climber that has oval green leaves, with the upper leaves resembling saucers. In late spring to summer, bright yellow-orange flowers are borne in clusters at end of shoots. Grow it against a wall in a large pot full of multipurpose compost.


Parthenocissus henryana
Parthenocissus henryana

This is a very vigorous deciduous climber that will self-cling. It has palm-shaped, dark green leaves with white veins. In autumn the leaves turn a bright red and at the same time black-blue berries form. Grow this 10m tall climber against a house wall in a very large container full of multipurpose compost.


Parthenocissus quinquefolium
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

A 15m tall vigorous deciduous, self-supporting climber that has rounded divided, green leaves. The leaves turn a vibrant red and orange colour in autumn. Grow this tall climber against a large support such as a house wall or fence in a very large container full of multipurpose compost.


Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Parthenocissus tricuspidata

This 20m tall vigorous, deciduous, self-supporting climber, which has lobed, green leaves. In autumn the fireworks begin as the leaves turn various shade of fiery reds. Grow this extremely tall plant against a sturdy wall or boundary fence in a very, very, large container full of multipurpose compost.

ROSA (ROSE) ‘Alberic Barbier’

Rose 'Alberic Barbier'
Rose ‘Alberic Barbier’

This rambler rose that grows up to 5m in height is a vigorous, semi-evergreen climber. It has disease-resistant, bright oval-shaped green leaves, where in summer in a single flush, double, creamy white blooms are produced that lasts several weeks, Grow it in a very large container full of enriched multipurpose compost, where it can be grown against walls and fences.

ROSA (Rose) ‘Constance Spry’

Rosa 'Constance Spry'
Rosa ‘Constance Spry’

This 2m tall short climbing rose has greyish-green leaves where during a summer month an abundance of large, pink, bowl-shaped, double flowers are produced. The flowers are so richly scented. Grow this beautiful rose against a wall in a large container full of enriched multipurpose compost. Mulch with organic materials in early spring.

ROSA (Rose) ‘Mermaid’

Rosa 'Mermaid'
Rosa ‘Mermaid’

This is a 6m tall slow-growing climbing rose that has glossy, green disease-resistant leaves. From summer to autumn, light yellow, single blooms are produced. Grow this large, hooked throne rose near your front door against a wall to deter intruders. Plant it in multipurpose compost in a very large container.

ROSA (Rose) ‘New Dawn’

Rosa 'New Dawn'
Rosa ‘New Dawn’

This 5m climbing rose has green, disease-resistant leaves where it will grow up to 5m in height. This repeater bloomer produces flowers from summer to autumn that are pale pink, fragrant and double appear. Grow this climbing rose against a house wall in enriched multipurpose compost in a large container.


Chinese Hydrangea Vine
Schizophragma integrifolia

This is a deciduous climber that can grow up to 12m high. It has heart-shaped or oval green leaves, where clusters of tiny blooms with petal-like bracts appear in summer. Grow it against a wall with a large support in a very large container full of multipurpose compost.

SOLANUM CRISPUM (Chilean Potato Vine)

Solanum crispum
Solanum crispum

This 6m tall semi-evergreen scrambling climber has oval green leaves. In summer to autumn, violet-blue flowers with yellow-centres appear. Grow this climber in a large pot full of multipurpose compost in a sheltered spot.


Stachyurus praecox
Stachyurus praecox

A 4m tall deciduous, spreading shrub that has purple-red shoots, where from pale yellow-green, bell-shaped flowers appear on bare stems. They appear from late winter to early spring, which is soon followed by slim, dark green leaves that appear soon after. You can train against a wall or fence where this shrub can be grown in a container full of ericaceous compost.


Trachelospermum jasminoides

This 9m tall evergreen, twining climber has glossy, dark green leaves that turn bronze in autumn and winter. In summer sweetly fragrant, white flowers appear in clusters. Ideally growing in partial shade against a wall in a large container full of multipurpose compost.


Tropaeolum speciosum
Tropaeolum speciosum

This short 3m tall perennial climber has twining stems, has rounded blue-green leaves that are divided into oval leaflets. In summer, it bars scarlet flowers that are followed by bright blue spherical fruits. Grow it in light shade in a moisture retentive enriched multipurpose compost against a fence, trellis or pergola.


In this article, plants in containers for walls, fences and other vertical surfaces in the shade has been discussed. As you can see there are vast arrays of climbers and shrubs that can be used to brighten shaded vertical surfaces in your garden.

You do not need to look at bare walls anymore, as you can fill them with scented climbers with interesting leave forms and points of interest.

If you have any questions that you wish to raise or any comments that you are climbing the wall to make, please do so in the comment box below.

Turn the bland to the spectacular.



18 thoughts on “Plants for Walls, Fences and Other Vertical Surfaces in Containers in the Shade (Add Interest to Plain Walls)”

  1. I have a very small garden now that I have moved into my new home. I have been looking for some nice creeper plants which take up little space but also do not damage the walls. I have some Jasmin in my yard and I love the smell that it lets of in the breeze. I am looking for ways to grow herbs in my back garden from the wall as the back yard is just concrete.Any ideas would be grateful. 

    1. Hi Anglewolf

      Thank you once again for stopping by and to help you further you can read my article on Plants for Walls, Fences and Other Vertical Surfaces in Containers in the Sun (Plants to Cover Bare Walls) that and this article will help you select plants to grow on vertical surfaces. For herbs I recommend reading my article Herbs in Pots- Spice Up Your Container Garden. These articles should help you to go in the right direction.



  2. Thanks so much for this!

    I personally love a good clematis so I will certainly be checking out the alipina very soon. The weeping forsythia sounds pretty extravagant too mind you!! I definitely do think an evergreen one would be good shout though so maybe the Italian Jasmine may be the best shout.

    I honestly have no idea how you’ve managed to find so many options!

    Do you have a personal favourite?

    Thanks again for sharing


    1. Hi Mike

      Thank you for your visit and for making a comment. I too love clematises as you have so many choices, this is why I like them. You cannot go wrong with them and roses. A rose covered wall is a marvel to anybody who sees them. Imagine a flower covered wall, fence or trellis, or a bare one, which do you prefer?



  3. I had to make a good climb to make this comment. Lol. This is a very good one. You have listed here a very wide array of shrubs,and other climber plants that can be grown in containers, on vertical surfaces and on fences. I didn’t really know that any plant court be grown on vertical surfaces though. I think I really need to make good use of this valuable research. Maybe my mum will be interested in growing this around our fence or we can just go for those that can be grown in the containers. Thanks for the good information.

    1. Hi Henderson

      I often think my sense of humour often goes unappreciated. I try to give as much information to my readers so that they can make an informed choice, as I know how complicated it can be. Bare walls are boring it is better to cover them with plants, much more interesting.



  4. Surely, they can do a great job of adding interest to the plain walls. Sometimes walls look rather too plain and boring to look at and trust me, I hate being bored by things I look at. You have given quite a long list of the possible flowers and plants that can be placed by the walls that would grow to blend with the wall and give it a beautiful look. I like the Rosa and Schizophragma integrifolia. The rosa for the beautiful look and the latter for the innocence that comes alongside its elegance. Simply great and would blend well with my home fence.

    Thanks for this much information and suggestions

    1. Hi Tracy

      Thank you for your insightful comment. My main purpose is to people to brighten their north facing walls, which often gets neglected by the container gardener. I hope I have shown the endless possibility  for what can be used.

      Kind Regards


  5. Earlier this year we had to get rid of a wall of conifers that were growing against a tall wooden fence – the person who planted them didn’t take into account just how much they would grow and they were killing each other and breaking the fence. So now I’m looking at a bare fence which is north-facing and the soil is very low in nutrients. I tried growing some bedding plants, just some Cosmos, Lobelias and Petunias in it this summer but they were all really unhappy, especially the poor Petunias, they hated it. They hated everything this year because we had a very wet and grey “summer”. 

    So I’m looking for inspiration as to what I could put there and your post has given me lots of ideas. Our next-door neighbours have a magnificent Clematis montana on a west-facing wall. I’m just a bit nervous about the pruning requirements for Clematis – are they as difficult as people make out? I also very much like the idea of a jasmine of some sort – I have a non-climbing variety in a different shady part of the garden that does well. Thanks very much for a big list of inspiring ideas.

    1. Hi drinkteahub.

      Is it not frustrating when you plant something and it does not do well. All of he plants I suggest will do well in North facing situations and jasmine typed will certainly flourish. I understand your misgivings about pruning clematises and I go through this in my previous article on Plants for Walls, Fences and Other Vertical Surfaces in Containers in the Sun (Plants to Cover Bare Walls). Generally if the clematises flowers in spring they do not need pruning much but if they flower in summer on new growth they can be cut back hard in early spring. Do not grow spring and summer varieties too close as this makes pruning impossible, as you cannot tell which is a spring variety and which is a summer variety.

      I always say a rose is a safe bet.



  6. Great post about growing plants for walls, fences and other vertical surfaces in containers in the shade. This sounds interesting. I have been using vertical growing but I was using HPS (high-pressure sodium) and led growing lights middle of the room and plants were on the walls. Your method is much harder especially when growing vertical surfaces in the shade. Choosing the right plants may be harder i guess? 

    1. Hi Jesse

      Plants in deep shade rarely do well and many people have north facing walls. It is a shame that they cannot grow anything against these walls and hence why this article was written. If you get the plants right it wil reward you with beautiful leaves and flower colours.

       Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.


  7. Hello Again,

    I have been to your site a few times now and have found many useful tips I have implementing in my own garden. Thank you by the way! Maybe you can give me an idea on a problem I have been having in regards to growing some type of vine for my trellis. I am having a rough time finding something that I wont have to replant every year. I live in Wyoming and our climate is crazy and unpredictable. I cant seem to find anything in our area that will withstand heat, wind and rain and due to our extreme cold winters, one to survive under the soil until the next spring. Its very frustrating. What do you suggest? Should I not plant them in the ground and just leave them in containers? I am also wanting something that blooms beautiful fragrant flowers. Will the Clematis work in my region? Thanks for any advice.


    1. Hi Tanya

      I am sorry about the problems you have been having. A  climber that is tough as boots I would recommend roses being a climber or a rambler. Once established you will find them almost impossible to kill. Any rose I have listed can be grown. In hot weather you may needs to water frequently and offer shade. Severe cold will not harm them and they have beautiful flowers and scent, what is not to like.

      Clematises can be used as frosts will not kill them  and you feed and water regularly. 

      Thanks for stopping by.


  8. Hi Antonio, you have got a great selection of climbing plants. I was just wondering if you could give me some advice on which one of them would be suitable for my climate here in Perth Western Australia. We have got mild winters from 5 degrees Celcius at night to 20 degrees Celsius with lots of rain and hot summers between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius with minimum of rain.

    1. Hi Eric

      To be truthfully all of these plants will do well in Australia, as you are growing in the shade, where temperature will not rise as much. You can grow more tender varieties than here in the UK, as often perennials that are grown as annuals can be grown all year round. Believe me you are blessed, as you range is much wider. I wonder recommend installing a water irrigation system Micro-Drip Irrigation System, a Review- (A Splash or a Wet Drip?) to make watering easier  and water gel Water Retaining Gel, a Review- Reduce your Need to Water Product to make less water required.



  9. I have enjoyed the last blog on Plants for wall, fence and another vertical container. And this time is about growing vertical plants in the shade. What is good in the blog is the actual plants that can be grown on containers in the shade. If these climbers are properly put together will give a glorious explosion of beautiful colors including the different clematis climber like Bill McKenzie, Alpine, Niobe, white swan, Nell Moser, and other non-clematis from Weeping Forsythia, sausage vine, Itea Virginica to Flame creeper. Such passion for these types of climbers is helpful for those who would love to do this type of hobby. Thanks for the interesting information.

    1. Hi gr8megawinner

      You are most welcome and thank you for those kind words. Clematises can be said to be some of the most colourful climbers in the book but to grow them in the shade, where many plants do not like to grow, is such an added bonus. I think you need plenty of wall space if you want to grow all of these beauties.

      Thank you


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