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11 Climbers and Vines to Grow in the Shade in Australia

While popular climbers like jasmine and wisteria thrive in the sun, there are also plenty of climbers that will grow happily in the shade.

Do you have a shady fence or trellis that you’d like to cover with a climber or vine? While popular climbers like jasmine and wisteria thrive in the sun, there are also plenty of climbers that will grow happily in the shade.

I have a side fence that is in fairly deep shade from tall trees and it has a very healthy and thriving English ivy growing over it that I have to trim regularly. But, ivy isn’t the only climbing plant that will grow in the shade.

Here are some popular climbers and vines to grow over a shady fence or other structure.

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Boston Ivy Parthenocissus tricuspidata 1 | Plant varieties

Boston ivy is a deciduous climber that will grow well in a semi-shaded position. It has large green leaves in spring and summer. 

These turn a glorious deep red in autumn before falling off the vine. Regular pruning is required to control its growth.

Bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides)

Pandorea jasminoides | Plant varieties

If you have a semi-shaded spot that received some dappled sunlight, you might like to consider this Australian native vine.

It has lovely large flowers that can be white or pale pink with a deeper coloured throat depending on the cultivar.

This vine will flower for most of the year but does need well-drained soil.

Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)

Climbing hydrangea Hydrangea petiolaris | Plant varieties

We all know that hydrangeas prefer a semi-shaded spot in the garden, but did you know that there is also a climbing hydrangea that likes similar conditions?

This species is a fast-growing climber and has lovely large white flowers that last a long time. Especially, when grown in a cool and shaded position in the garden.

Like common ivy, this plant will grip onto walls and fences so is perfect for growing over a shaded fence.

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila)

Creeping fig Ficus pumila | Plant varieties

The creeping fig is a vigorous climbing plant that will attach itself to walls and fences with its aerial roots. It has green heart-shaped leaves and will grow relatively flat against a solid surface. 

This plant does like plenty of water and is not frost-tolerant so it needs to grow in a protected spot. It does lend itself beautifully to regular pruning and shaping.

Guinea flower (Hibbertia scandens)

Guinea flower Hibbertia scandens | Plant varieties

This native climber is ideal for coastal areas and can grow happily in partial shade. Its leaves are quite thick and leathery and it has very large yellow flowers.

Hibbertia scandens is perfect for growing over wire fences but it also makes an excellent groundcover. It’s tolerant of most soil types and can even handle a light frost.

Hardenbergia violacea

Hardenbergia violacea | Plant varieties
Photo by KENPEI / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 3.0

This is one of my all-time favourite native climbers. It has the most magnificent purple flowers in winter. These usually last well into spring. 

I have a Hardenbergia violacea growing on the side of my verandah amongst some bamboo and it always delights me when it comes into bloom. 

I like to collect the seed pods when they’re dry and have grown some new plants from these seeds. I now have four of these young plants growing up the fence on the shadier side of my house and they’re putting on lots of growth. 

Headache vine (Clematis glycinoides)

This is a vigorous native climber that grows naturally in rainforest areas. Of course, this is a good indication that this plant prefers to grow in the shade.

The plant has dark green leaves that are said to relieve headaches when crushed and the scent is inhaled. However, the crushed leaves may also cause skin irritation in some people.

The plant produces dainty white flowers and fluffy seed heads. 

Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)

Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum | Plant varieties

The common honeysuckle is a gorgeous climbing plant that prefers to grow in a shaded spot where the roots are kept nice and cool. The creamy-yellow flowers are highly scented.

However, this plant is regarded as an environmental weed in Tasmania and may also be regarded as a weed in other southern parts of the country so check with your local council before growing it in your garden.

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Star Jasmine 6 | Plant varieties

One of the best climbers to grow in the shade is the star jasmine. The dark green glossy leaves give us a good indication that this plant will grow well in the shade.

Essentially, any plants that have deep green leaves can adapt to live in shady spots in your garden. 

This is also quite a vigorous climber and has lovely scented white star-shaped flowers that will fill the air with perfume in spring and summer.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia | Plant varieties

The virginia creeper which has large green leaves in five segments will also grow in shade in the garden. It’s a deciduous vine and will drop its leaves in autumn.

Before the leaves drop, they’ll provide a lovely touch of colour as they respond to the cooler weather.

Vine)

Pandorea pandorana Wonga Vine | Plant varieties
Pandorea pandorana / Photo by John Tann / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

This is another Australian native climber with glossy green leaves and huge clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers in white, cream, or yellow.

It flowers mainly in spring and is suitable for growing in temperate and tropical regions around the country.

It will adapt to most soils as long as they are free-draining and can handle a light frost.

It’s a vigorous climber and needs to be pruned regularly so that it doesn’t invade areas where it’s not wanted. 

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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