The Best Climbing Plants for Sun and Shade

Whether your arch or pergola is a shaded or sunny area, you can discover the right climbing plants for your garden space.

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Vine WalkwayEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

It is easy to assume that, because many pergolas stand over warm terraces or are built to create shaded walkways, many of the plants shrouding them will survive only in open, sunny positions. In fact, arches and pergolas are not always to be found in warm, light sites, and arbors are often deliberately set in cool, wooded areas. Fortunately, there are climbing plants for both extremes.

Plants for Sun

Most climbers benefit from the light and heat that is reflected from walls and terraces. The sun-loving climbers growing over pergolas in these open, warm positions tend to be eye-catching plants with strong flower interest. Among the showiest are the many roses, clematis, grapes, and wisterias.

Sparkling Purple Clematis PlantEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

To ensure their dramatic summer show, many of these climbers must be hard-pruned in early spring, leaving the supports bare. For permanent cover you may wish to grow them with an evergreen climber.

Several grapes have good foliage and are suited to growing over a pergola; many need no competition from other plants. In colder areas, the grapes may not develop fully outdoors.

Wisteria, with its scented hanging flowers, is unsurpassed for style and elegance. In mild climates, few sights are as showy as the vibrant colors of a bougainvillea, especially draped over a pergola.

Plants for Shade

Arbors and pergolas sited in shady parts of the garden require climbers tolerant of lower light levels. Many shade-tolerant climbers grow naturally in woodland in the wild. Shade-tolerant self-clinging climbers are ideal for growing on solid brick or stone archways in these conditions. One of the best plants of this type is the deciduous climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris.

Hearts of GoldEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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