Climbing plants are useful for hiding walls and fences and for decorating arches and pergolas. However, they may not look quite so attractive in winter, when the leaves have fallen and the stems are bare. That’s where evergreen climbing plants come in. By their very nature, they remain green all year round, keeping your garden looking fresh, colourful and well-tended.
Benefits of Evergreen Climbing Plants
As we’ve already touched on, climbing plants are great for covering unsightly fences, stores and walls in and around the garden. But they have other benefits too. One of the main advantages of climbers is that they don’t take up much ground space yet appear as a large plant. Their climbing habit adds structure and height interest to an outdoor space, drawing the eye upwards and making the garden look bigger.
Many climbing plants also bloom beautiful flowers in spring or summer, attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators to the garden, as well as providing a colourful show of scented flowers. Small birds, such as robins, nest in climbing plants as they make a great shelter.
Trained up a wall, climbing plants can also make your house more energy efficient, and this is particularly true of evergreens. They protect brickwork from rainfall and provide an extra layer of insulation, keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
How to Choose the Right Climbing Plant for Your Garden
One of the first things to consider is what purpose do you want your new climbing plants to serve? Are they merely ornamental or are you planting climbers to create privacy screening? Some evergreen climbers have more sparse foliage that is ideal for pergolas and arches. Others boast dense, full foliage perfect for providing privacy and hiding the surfaces underneath.
Different climbing plants grow in different ways, making some surfaces more suitable than others. For example, if you want to grow a plant up a wall, a self-clinging climber, such as ivy, is ideal. A twining climber, such as clematis, is the perfect plant for growing up a trellis or pergola.
Light is one of the most important factors in how well and quickly plants grow, so it’s best to choose an evergreen climbing plant that matches your garden’s lighting. Consider whether the spot you have in mind gets the sun all day, or is it in partial or dappled shade?
It may just look like dirt, but soil is another factor that can encourage or inhibit a plant’s growth. You many have sandy, loamy, chalky or clay soil in the garden and it’s best to choose a climbing plant that best suits your garden’s soil type. If you’re struggling, you can always grow evergreen climbing plants in pots or containers to get the soil type just right.
The Best Evergreen Climbing Plants for UK Gardens
Whether you’re looking for dense green foliage, a wonderful display of fragrant flowers, or perhaps even both, here are some of the best evergreen climbers to grow in the garden. Before you dive in, have you ever heard of Climbing Rose? Read on to find out.
Evergreen Clematis (Clematis armandii)
These sun-loving evergreen climbing plants are spring flowering, producing a dainty show of star-shaped, almond-scented, creamy white flowers from March to April. New leaves are tinted bronze before turning a fresh shade of mid-green as the seasons progress.
Plant these evergreen climbers in a sheltered spot out of cold winds, in moist but well-drained soil. Clamatis armandii is fast-growing, so you may wish to prune after flowering to maintain its desired shape and size. Otherwise, this evergreen climber requires very little maintenance.
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
This popular evergreen climber is one of the country’s favourite plants for growing up walls. English ivy is a self-clinging plant with flossy green leaves in three-lobed shapes. In autumn, mature plants produce small nectar-rich green flowers, followed by black berries in winter.
Hedera helix is a classic evergreen climber and is a country garden staple that is incredibly versatile. It grows well in full sun, partial shade or even full shade and can be trained to climb walls, fences, and pergolas. This vigorous climbing plant is fully hardy and drought resistant, although it prefers moist, well-draining soil.
Henry’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera henryi)
Henry’s honeysuckle are relatively fast growing evergreen climbers. Their twining stems are perfect for trellises and fences. They flower in June and July, producing clusters of unscented yellow blooms that contrast beautifully with the oval-shaped dark green leaves
Henry’s honeysuckle is fully hardy in the UK, although it may shed some of its leaves during a particularly cold winter. It prefers to have its feet in the shade and its head in the sun, so choose a bright spot where the bottom of the plant is shaded.
Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)
Chocolate vine gets its name from the unusual chocolatey-purple flowers that bloom throughout spring. The flowers have a pleasant fragrance, with an attractive hint of vanilla. The lobed leaves are flushed with purple in winter, adding colour interest in the greyest months of the year. In warmer years, these evergreen climbing plants can produce large sausage-shaped fruits considered a delicacy in Asia.
While Akebia quinata is considered fully hardy in the UK, it can be prone to frost damage and may drop its leaves during harsh winters. However, the leaves will grow back as the temperature rises again in spring. Grow in a sheltered spot in full sun or partial shade and water regularly during dry spells.
Seemann’s Hydrangea (Hydrangea seemannii)
This attractive evergreen climber features long, rich green leathery leaves complemented by greenish white summer flowers in white bracts. Eventually, Seemann’s hydrangea will reach up to 12m tall and 4m wide, so give this climbing hydrangea plenty of space to grow.
Seemann’s hydrangea grows well in almost any light from full sun to full shade, so it is a great choice for north-facing walls and fences. Keep it in a sheltered spot, out of frost pockets and keep the soil moist but well drained.
Bluebell Creeper (Sollya heterophylla)
As you’d imagine from the name, bluebell creepers produce masses of blue, bell shaped flowers from early summer to September. These are followed by edible blue berries in autumn. Bluebell creeper is perfect for growing up a pergola or trellis and has fresh green lance-shaped leaves that remain in place all year round.
Native to Australia, bluebell creeper prefers a sunny spot in light, sandy, well-drained soil. It may need some additional winter protection in colder parts of the country but is well-suited to growing in containers that can be moved into a greenhouse when the temperature drops.
Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea)
Technically, passion flowers are semi-evergreen climbing plants and may lose their leaves during particularly cold winters. However, their attractive foliage and highly unusual flowers deserve a place on this list. The lobed dark green foliage has a glossy appearance and is decorated with large exotic-looking flowers throughout summer.
The blooms have a layered appearance with white petals on the outside cradling blue filaments and a prominent yellow and purple stamen in the centre. The flowers are followed by egg-shaped yellow-orange fruits that attract birds to the garden.
Passion flowers like a spot in full sun or partial shade and their self-clinging tendrils quickly cover a sunny wall or fence. Choose a sheltered spot and plant these semi-evergreen climbers in moist, well draining soil, watering regularly during dry periods.
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides)
This twining evergreen climber boast glossy dark green leaves that often turn a dramatic shade of red in winter. Clusters of fragrant white flowers appear from mid to late summer, lasting several weeks and attracting bees to the garden.
Grow star jasmine in a sheltered sunny spot, in moist but well drained clay, loam or sandy soil. Water regularly, especially during dry spells. Star jasmine doesn’t have deep roots, so it’s a great option for growing in pots and containers. Use a trellis to support young plants and encourage them to grow in the right direction.