Whether you are redesigning your backyard from scratch or simply want to introduce some screening for privacy or shade, it's vital to include evergreen climbers.
Perfect for scrambling up and covering walls, fences and trellises – visually extending your garden's boundaries year-round, evergreen climbers can add much-needed color, texture and shelter for wildlife if trained over pergolas and arches, too.
Best evergreen climbers
These are the perennial climbers are amongst the best climbing plants you can plant.
1. Best evergreen climber for shade
Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’ AGM – Paddy’s Pride is an excellent Persian ivy with large heart-shaped green leaves splashed with lime and gold. It can be used either to clad walls or create ground cover and is perfect if you are looking for garden shade ideas as it will clad any trellis densely.
‘Hederas are great for shade,’ says Irene Kalina-Jones, landscape designer at Outside Space NYC in New York City. ‘I like ‘Sulphur Heart’, as it is variegated, so gives a bit of light reflection in the shade. I like it against walls or trees, mixed with other varieties. It’s also great in seasonal winter pots.’
Note that some other forms of ivy (such as H. helix) can be invasive in parts of the US, so check what is advised in your area before selecting an ivy.
Mature plants allowed to climb will produce globes of fall flowers that feed bees, followed by black berries that feed birds.
This self-clinging climber is best in well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in semi-shade.
Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H5).
Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H5). : 20ft (6m).
2. Best evergreen climber for pots
Sollya heterophylla – the bluebell creeper is an Australian climber that has clusters of beautiful azure bells in summer.
In warm regions, it can be grown outside in well-drained, moist, fertile soil in sheltered sun. But in cold areas, it’s best in a conservatory; alternatively, young plants can be grown as container gardening ideas, which are overwintered in a heated greenhouse.
Hardiness: USDA 10-11 (UK H3).
Height: 6ft (1.8m).
3. Best evergreen climber for scent
Trachelospermum jasminoides AGM is a superb evergreen climber with glossy green leaves that take on crimson hues in winter and jasmine-like ivory summer flowers that have a strong tea scent – making it one of the best flowering climbers.
‘Every garden should have a T. jasminoides,’ says London-based garden designer Claire Mee, ‘ – it is without doubt one of the best evergreen climbers. The neat, dark-green foliage can be trained in any manner of shapes: for example, on diamond-shaped wiring to attractively cover walls. It is well behaved and won't drop masses of leaves all over your garden. When in flower during the summer months, the heady fragrance is unbeatable.’
Its common names are star jasmine or confederate jasmine (which refers to the Greater Malayan Confederation because the plant hails from Southeast Asia).
Hardiness: USDA 8-10 (UK H4).
Height: 20ft (6m).
4. Best evergreen climber for trellis
Clematis armandi (syn. C. armandii) – you will smell the marzipan-scented blooms of this clematis before you see them. The white starry flowers open in spring above long, dark-green leaves.
‘C. armandi is highly perfumed,’ say Chris and Suzy Cocks at specialist clematis nursery Taylors, ‘and it has laurel-like foliage that is great for lots and lots of good, dense coverage.’
When you grow clematis, give this twining climber something to cling to, such as trellis, in fertile, well-drained soil. This variety is among the best clematis to grow. The upper plant needs sheltered sun, but the roots require shade provided by plants in front of them. Prune clematis twice a year to keep in shape. Be aware that the plant is toxic to dogs.
Hardiness: USDA 6-9 (UK H4).
Height: 23ft (7m).
5. Best evergreen climber for flowers and fruit
Holboellia latifolia (syn. Stauntonia latifolia) – the name 'broad-leaved sausage vine' doesn’t make you sprint to buy, but this is one of the best evergreen climbers.
As well as large, dense, glossy leaves, it produces purple or creamy-green spring flowers that smell of melon and jasmine, and edible sausage-shaped purple autumn fruit.
Grow in well-drained soil in sheltered sun or semi-shade.
Hardiness: USDA 8-11 (UK H4).
Height: 20ft (6m).
6. Best evergreen climber for summer and fall color
Lapageria rosea AGM – the Chilean bellflower is hung with enchanting, big, waxy pink-red blooms during late summer and fall.
In cold regions, this tender plant can be grown in a conservatory, as long as it’s shielded from bright sun.
Provide it with something to twine around, such as trellis, in moist, well-drained acid to neutral soil, in sheltered semi-shade or shade.
Hardiness: USDA 9-11 (UK H3).
Height: 16ft (5m). USDA 9-11 (UK H3).
7. Best evergreen climber for walls
Hedera helix ‘Buttercup’ AGM – this yellow English ivy injects the garden with golden warmth, even in the depths of winter. Being slow-growing and compact, it can be used to illumine the base of a tree trunk or a statue.
‘I love this ivy variety,’ says Pennsylvania-based landscape designer Nathan Tuno, who works at Roots Landscape Inc. ‘The lime-butter color of the leaf, its trailing habit, and slow-growing nature make it great for containers and small spaces.’ More vigorous forms of H. helix ought to be avoided in the midwest US, where they are invasive.
The small lobed leaves are rich yellow in sun, but lime green in shade. This self-clinging climber dislikes competition from other plants and thrives in well-drained neutral to alkaline soil.
Hardiness: USDA 4-9 (UK H5).
Height: 7ft (2m).
8. Best evergreen climber for pollinators
Pileostegia viburnoides is a leafy self-clinging hydrangeas for shade. The tiny ivory flowers open in fleecy clumps in August and fall, above long, glossy green leaves.
‘Pileostegia viburnoides is a great evergreen climber for shade,’ say the evergreen experts at Architectural Plants. ‘At its best, the lushest, greenest, shiniest, fleshy and exotic thing you’ll ever meet.’
It can take a few years to bloom, but it’s worth the wait. Possessing the nectar power to attract every insect in the area, it is best planted a good distance from seating areas.
Plant in fertile, well-drained soil in sheltered semi-shade or shade and give nitrogen-rich food.
Hardiness: USDA 8-10 (UK H5).
Height: 20ft (6m).
9. Best evergreen climber for winter color
Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ AGM – from November to February, this evergreen clematis is hung with primrose-yellow bells that are heavily speckled maroon and provide food for bees. It is named after clematis breeder Raymond Evison’s daughter Rebecca, who had lots of freckles when she was little.
‘There is a perfect clematis for each time of the year,’ says Irene Kalina-Jones, landscape designer at Outside Space NYC in New York City. ‘You can pretty much grow them anywhere in the garden. I like them on fences and free-standing trellis.’
Being more tender than most other clematis, ‘Freckles’ requires a sheltered south or west-facing wall, in moist, well-drained neutral to alkaline soil.
Hardiness: USDA 7-9 (UK H4).
Height: 13ft (4m).
10. Best evergreen climber for privacy
Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ AGM – this Chilean potato tree is a climbing shrub that produces fragrant blue-purple flowers in summer and early fall, followed by inedible yellow fruit.
Although it is in the potato family, and although it's one of the prettiest evergreen plants, all parts of it are poisonous. Grow in moist, well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in sun and tie in to a wire framework or trellis. Evergreen in warm regions.
Height: 13ft (4m). USDA 9-11 (UK H4).
What is a fast-growing evergreen climber?
Clematis armandii is a fast-growing evergreen climber that will happily scramble over trellis, pergolas and arches. It does need to be tied in and pruned a couple of times a year to keep it shapely, but it retains its glossy green leaves throughout the year, and rewards you with star-shaped, scented flowers in spring. Plant the roots in shade and prepare for the stem to get woody over time, so neat training from the start is a must.
What climbing vine stays green all year round?
Our favorite evergreen climbing vine is Trachelospermum jasminoides – which is a superb evergreen for patios and decks. Denser and more sturdy looking that classic jasmine, it has glossy green leaves that take on crimson hues in winter, and jasmine-like ivory summer flowers that have a strong tea scent.
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Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.
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