Climbing plants and wall shrubs cover walls, fences, unsightly features, arches, obelisks and pergolas. True climbers take up little ground space, and are excellent choices for smaller gardens, whereas wall shrubs require more ground space. Popular plants are: clematis, roses, wisteria and honeysuckle.
Climbers have a natural tendency to climb and some will even self-cling, without requiring tying-in to supports. Wall shrubs, by contrast, do not naturally climb. If left alone, they bush outwards and grow like shrubs. With specific pruning and training techniques, they can be trained to grow against walls.
Choosing a climber or wall shrub
When choosing a climber or wall shrub it is important to consider several factors:
- Aspect: Sun-loving plants won’t thrive against a shady wall
- Size: Match the vigour of the plant to the allotted space
- Hardiness: Do not plant tender plants in an exposed situation
- Climbing habit: Some climbers (such as Campsis) are self-clinging, but other climbers and all wall shrubs require supports and tying in
Planting climbers and wall shrubs
See our advice on trees and shrubs: planting for information on planting technique. Some climbers, such as certain species of Clematis plants such as Campsis, have particular requirements. Delay the planting of tender plants until the spring.
Water well during periods of dry weather in the first few years after planting. Remember that plants against walls or under eaves may not receive much rainfall.
In spring, apply a high potassium fertiliser (such as Vitax Q4) at the dose recommended on the packet, and mulch with organic matter (garden compost or well rotted manure, for example). Leave a 10cm (4in) collar free of mulch around the woody stems, to avoid risk of rotting the bark.
See our advice on container maintenance for further information on looking after climbers and wall shrubs in pots.
Group Climbers and shrubs or trees that can be wall-trained
Flowering time Various
Height and spread Various
Planting time Spring or autumn; tender plants in spring
Aspect Any, depending on the plant
Hardiness From tender to fully hardy
Difficulty From easy to moderate