Horticulture Magazine

15 Hardy Climbing Plants & Shrubs For Winter

lonicera honeysuckle closeup

If you are looking for climbing plants or wall shrubs for winter interest, look no further – we have a list of 15 great options for you to choose from.

Climbers and shrubs which can be trained against walls (usually those which retain their leaves or provide winter interest) can be very valuable plants to include in your garden.

Not only will they look good, but they can also be great for the wildlife with which you share your space.

Evergreen shrubs and climbers are typically those which are best for adding interest to the winter garden. These can provide year-round privacy when trained on a fence and provide shelter for a range of garden creatures.

They also make a great visual backdrop – especially when trained against a garden boundary or a wall of your home, for the bare branches of deciduous shrubs and trees.

We have chosen the plants on this list for their broad applicability in garden design here in the UK, and for their visual appeal during the winter months.

If you are looking for evergreen climbing plants and wall shrubs for winter interest, then of course you have other options, but considering these fifteen options could be a good place to start:

1. Ivy

leaves of climbing ivy
Ivy

Ivy (Hedera helix) is a native workhorse of the winter garden.

It will reliably remain evergreen all year round, providing shelter for a range of wildlife, and visual interest even over the coldest months. It will also have blackberries in the winter months, providing an excellent food source for native birds.

It is H5 hardy, and can be grown almost anywhere, from full sun sites, to deep shade.

This self-clinging climber may be too vigorous for some settings. But it can be perfect for growing up a tall wall or fence in any orientation.

Look out for variegated varieties for even more winter interest.

2. Lonicera (Honeysuckles)

There are a wide range of honeysuckles that can be grown in UK gardens, from the native but deciduous common honeysuckle, to honeyberry (edible honeysuckles), to evergreen options like Japanese honeysuckle, for example.

Japanese honeysuckle is H6 hardy, which is great for winter interest. Another honeysuckle for winter interest is the deciduous Lonicera fragrantissima, which is deciduous, but which flowers in late winter or early spring.

3. Clematis Cirrhosa

Clematis cirrhosa shrub with white flowers
Clematis cirrhosa

Another climber which is both evergreen and winter flowering is Clematis cirrhosa.

Try varieties like ‘Winter Beauty’ or “Early Sensation’, for example. They have delicate bell-shaped, creamy-white flowers set against their ferny foliage.

This is a good choice for a full sun, sheltered site in milder areas.

It requires moist yet free-draining soil. This evergreen clematis is H4 hardy in the UK.

4. Garrya elliptica

Also known as silk-tassel bush, this shrub is also great for training against a wall or fence.

It should thrive in full sun or a partially shaded site, and not only has evergreen foliage but also bears beautiful silver catkins through the winter months.

It is H4 hardy in the UK and will grow to 3.5m, or even taller in mild areas with well-drained soil.

5. Climbing Hydrangeas

Climbing hydrangeas can also be great wall shrubs for winter interest.

Hydrangea petiolaris, Hydrangea seemannii and the related Peileostegia virburnoides, are all self-clinging climbers which offer year-round interest in your garden.

These are H5 hardy and can work well in many different situations with almost any aspect and soil type, as long as the soil does not become waterlogged in winter.

6. Euonymus fortunei

Euonymus

Euonymus fortunei is another great self-clinging climber to consider for your garden, to add evergreen interest over the winter months.

Spindles or winter creepers are H5 or H6 hardy, and can work well when grown as free-standing shrubs or when trained as climbers against a wall.

Euonymus can work well in full sun or partial shade, facing south, east or west. Variegated cultivars such as ‘Silver Queen’ can be great for enlivening a shady spot.

7. Pyracantha

Pyracantha is another shrub excellent for training against a wall or fence.

Beautiful red or orangey berries appear in autumn and will often grace the plant all through the winter months. These are also H5 or H6 hardy.

They do well in full sun or part shade, and can work well on sheltered or exposed sites, with any aspect. They prefer moist but well-drained or well-drained soil.

8. Cotoneaster horizontalis

Red cotoneaster berries
Red cotoneaster berries

Another excellent choice for winter berries is Cotoneaster, also known as wall spray, which is another vigorous shrub that can be grown up and over walls or fences. It has pink-tinged, delicate white flowers which are followed by red berries. And the glossy leaves remain reliably in place throughout the whole of the year.

9. Ceanothus

This evergreen shrub is H4 hardy, and can work extremely well as a wall shrub when trained against a sunny and sheltered south-facing wall or fence.

Ceanothus flowers, depending on the variety, are born in spring, summer or even early autumn.

But even in winter, this shrub will usually keep its little crinkled leaves throughout the winter months.

10. Trachelospermum jasminoides

white star jasmine flowers
Star jasmine

Also hardy through most of the UK, star jasmine is another evergreen climbing shrub to consider.

‘Variegatum’ is a cultivar that not only has fragrant white flowers born in summer, but also attractive white-edged leaves, which blush red in winter.

It can work well in full sun or partial shade and will do well against a sheltered south or west-facing wall, in well-drained soil.

11. Passiflora caerulea

Blue passionflower is another H4 hardy climber, which could be another great option to consider.

This is another evergreen, which will often retain its leaves through winter in milder areas in the UK, though it may lose them over the coldest months in colder regions.

This fast-growing climber can work well in full sun or partial shade in sheltered spots and is another interesting option for a south or west-facing wall or fence.

12. Itea ilicifolia

Holly-leaved sweet spire is another attractive evergreen wall shrub for winter interest.

It flowers in the summer/early autumn small greenish-white flowers in long dangling racemes.

H5 hardy, this plant also remains evergreen and keeps its holly-like oval leaves over the winter too.

It likes a sheltered, full sun or partial shade site, in moist but well-drained soil.

13. Chimonanthus praecox

yellow Chimonanthus praecox flowers on a branch
Chimonanthus praecox

Wintersweet, H5 hardy, is another wonderful wall shrub to consider for your winter garden.

It is well known for its wonderfully fragrant yellow flowers which it bears over the winter months when grown against a sunny west or south-facing wall in a sheltered position with well-drained soil.

14. Mahonia x media

Best known as a sprawling shrub of neglected shady garden corners, Mahonia x media, or oregon grape, can also be trained as a wall shrub to enliven a wall or fence over the winter months.

The spiky, glossy leaves look good all year round, bright yellow flowers look great early in the season and are a delight for early pollinators, and the berries that then form are edible too – great for baking, jams or jellies.

15. Camellia sasanqua

pink Flower Of Sasanqua with dark green foliage
Flower Of Sasanqua

Finally, last but not least, you could consider growing a winter Camellia.

With its upright habit, this camellia is great for growing up against a wall or fence.

It bears its fragrant white flowers in autumn and winter.

It is H4 hardy, and will thrive against a north, west or south-facing structure.

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