When your backyard is not facing the side of the sun, it can become unkempt and shabby without proper care. Plants that cannot thrive in darker conditions may soon dry up and litter the garden.
You cannot do anything about the location, but you can still beautify your lot by getting vines that can still grow in the lack of sunlight.
There are plenty of plants to pick from and utilize the potential space of your garden or decorate the walls of your fence or balcony.
Top 20 Climbing Plants & Flowering Vines
Following are some of the best flowering and climbing vines that grow in shade and require minimum care to survive. Read on to know more!
1. Sweet Autumn Clematis
Sweet autumn clematis is one of the most popular vines that people choose as a backyard creepers for its hardiness and beauty.
The flowering vine can grow even when in the shade, since its roots need to be facing away from direct sunlight, and appears in many different colors ranging from pink to violet and magenta.
Though these large flowers (reaching around 20cm) are easy to grow, their sturdiness takes time to build, so you need to be careful when placing them on your wall.
While its roots need to be in well-draining but moist soil (best being loam, chalk, sand, or clay with an alkaline-neutral pH), the top tendrils need to face the sun to flourish.
The blossoming time for this flower is usually from spring to fall, during the warmer seasons. They germinate quickly, so they can be termed as an invasive species if not cared for.
The Sweet Autumn Clematis originates from Japan, but there are over 300 varieties to pick from – the ‘Nelly Moser’ being the most popular type.
2. Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus Tricuspidata)
Boston Ivy is a non-flowering vine that is grown for the beautiful foliage created by its leaves that resemble green maple leaves. They can be the perfect addition to a garden that lacks greenery or goes for a subtle look that appears clean.
During autumn, these climbers become hotspots for fruit-feeding birds who assemble in Boston Ivy to eat berries. These climbers can grow up to 30 – 50 ft long and their foliage changes colors with passing seasons.
As much as their green leaves are known for being vegetative, the brown and red hues during fall are also admired for their palette. You might also notice that the parts directly under the sun will create this change in the pattern.
The best time for the growth of Boston Ivy is during autumn, and it can easily grow even in partial shade. This plant is perfect for a garden that changes as time passes by in a year, as it is also very adaptable to all kinds of soil types. However, loamy soil will be the most perfect fit for this creeper.
Fun fact – the term “Ivy League” college for the group of top universities around the world comes from the fact that these esteemed campuses have Boston Ivy all over their old buildings. If that is the look you want to go for, then this might be the perfect vine for your backyard.
3. Yellow Passion Flower (Passiflora Lutea)
The yellow passion flower, scientifically known as the passiflora lutea, is a perennial (small flowering plant that grows during warmer months). These climbing vines can grow up to 15 feet long and the buds are green and yellow, with black and purple berries during spring.
The plant does not require a lot of water or shade to survive and will thrive nicely on well-drained soil like sandy loam. Yellow passion flowers are favored by butterfly larvae and bees so you might find yourself struggling a bit with pests.
The best time for them to grow is from the months of August – September, but since it’s hardy, they can stay thriving all year long. They are not invasive but can grow rapidly during warmer months, so you have to keep up to date with regular trimmings and care.
Even during warmer months that cause dehydration, or wreckage from a sandstorm, Yellow passion flowers can be grown from divisions and cuttings as they can be from seeds, so there is no risk of ever losing the plant completely.
4. Honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.)
Honeysuckle is a hardy climbing vine that has pretty, tubular flowers that come in shades of pink, red, or yellow. There are over 180 varieties and the flower, seed, and leaves can all be used for medicinal purposes.
These plants are not very hard to grow – you will not need to make ties, just provide support as they can go up the surface they are growing against. They hardly require water and shade and can grow up to 20 ft even under bare minimum circumstances.
This can also be a con of the Honeysuckle – it grows so rapidly that it can become invasive, so regular trimming and pruning are encouraged if you want to keep this plant in the backyard.
If your yard is near an area with lots of flora and fauna, you might also catch hummingbirds that feed on these tubular flowers.
5. Climbing Hydrangea
Climbing hydrangea is a beautiful climber that has white flowers that grow in clusters and are popular plants in Japan and Korea. Unlike other climbers, it needs a wall or fence for support and can cling easily to surfaces. The flowers grow in clusters – smaller buds surrounding a central large flower.
The flowers contrast beautifully against the foliage that is bright green in warmer months and golden yellow in colder ones that can grow almost anywhere. There is also a special variety called the Hydrangea anomala ‘Petiolaris’ which has leaves in the shape of hearts.
Climbing hydrangeas are great for shady areas and the soil needs to be slightly moist or acidic for healthy survival. The prime season for these vines to grow is spring – you might find some even growing up to be 40 – 60 ft long and surviving for years to come.
6. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Virginia creepers are similar to Boston Ivy, with large leaves that are great for giving shade. These plants do not require any support, so you will just have to plant them alongside your wall as it latches onto the fences and walls with their sucker discs. It does not need to be in direct sunlight, but for a lush color, it can use some sun.
Virginia Creepers also change according to the season, and sometimes there is layered growth in the lack of sun.
However, its best appearance is probably in autumn when the color is optimal. It can grow up to reach 30 – 50 ft long and can tolerate most soil types, though loamy and sandy clay is preferred.
The only con is that these climbing vines are not great for small spaces as they grow rapidly and can become invasive.
7. Creeping Myrtle (Vinca Minor)
Creeping myrtle is a violet-colored flowering vine that has arching stems with evergreen, shiny leaves that blossom in the month of spring. They can grow up to be 4 – 8 inches tall and their buds are usually star-shaped with hues of indigo.
Despite its delicate appearance, once planted, Creeping Myrtle can survive even in drought-like conditions, though moist soil is preferred by the plant.
Hence, rich sand or clay that is well-draining as well as mulching regularly will be the best fit for this flower. Mulching can also protect the roots from frost in winter.
As for the living conditions, Creeping Myrtle grows best in partially sunny to shady areas, so they best grow in warmer months like spring and summer. It also grows rapidly, so you will have to trim it often to not let it invade your garden.
8. Dutch Honeysuckle
The Dutch Honeysuckle is a variant of the tubular plant honeysuckle, and its flowers are crimson red in color. The vine is hardy and can grow up to 10 to 20 ft long, though it does take time to grow. Its maroon appearance grows beautifully against lush green oval-shaped leaves.
It’s perfect for any garden that is located in the shadier area of the plot and gives the yard an elegant look.
They smell sweet and you might find Dutch Honeysuckles ranging from warm shades like orange to purple and magenta. It does not require a lot of sunlight, so you can keep it in partial shade and in well-drained soil like clay or loam.
Just remember to put it in the sun sometimes, as honeysuckles growing in the shade can easily become an invasive species. It grows best in warmer seasons like spring to summer as the soil does not get too dry.
9. Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria Sinensis)
The Chinese Wisteria is one of the most popular flowering vines that are known for the elegant look and grape-like fragrance that they bring to a garden. These beautiful violet and white blossoms can grow in partial or full sun as they prefer warmer weather.
You can see the change when in spring, the flowering buds are bigger while they are much tinier during other months. They grow in clusters that hang from its wines in blue and white.
They can grow up to 40 ft tall and grow well in all kinds of soil, though they prefer well-drained varieties like chalk, clay, loam, or sand-based soils.
Fertilizers are not necessary but can be recommended as Chinese wisteria grows slowly and can take up to 20 years to reach its full height. Temperate climates are best preferred by these flowers when it gets too cold, these plants can die.
That being said, in warmer conditions, it can grow invasive, like in North America. They are also toxic on all parts, so should not be consumed by pets or children. Pruning and trimming can help with this problem, so the bare minimum of care would be required on your part.
Fun fact – Chinese Wisteria grows upwards anti-clockwise while Japanese wisteria grows up anti-clockwise!
10. Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides)
When it comes to uniqueness – to a point that your garden looks magical, you might want to consider getting Star Jasmines as a climber for your backyard fence. Apart from its fancy look, the vine also has a fragrant jasmine smell that will spread through your whole garden, since it can grow up to almost 30 ft tall.
They love to grow upwards, and can even reach the top of your building. All you have to do is get some well-draining soil like loam chalk and sand-based soil with a slightly alkaline – slightly acidic pH level.
Star Jasmines do not require a lot of sunlight, but when there is a lot of it, like in summer, these vines blossom beautifully. You will see the buds go from a pure white color to a mild cream one with time. Even the colors of the leaves change – they will grow as dark green in the beginning and then turn into a bronze-red color.
11. Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops or the Humulus Lupulus is a common Japanese plant that is a herbaceous perennial, meaning it can appear unkempt or wild if not groomed regularly.
It usually has rough twining stems that grow clockwise and can reach up to 26 ft long. They grow the best during warmer months like spring or summer and even produce fruits that also boost the fragrance of the overall plant.
An advantage of the hops is that your garden will always look fresh as the mature vines wither away regularly and new vines grow each season. This vine does not require a lot of water or shade and will do just well with well-drained soil like sandy loam.
12. Sweet Pea (Lathyrus sp.)
Lathyrus odoratus or Sweet Pea is a beautiful and fragrant vine that is easy to grow and is a popular choice for cottage gardens.
They can grow in pots as well as over walls, but they need support to latch on to. It can grow up to be 6 – 10 ft tall and the buds grow into fragrant, magenta flowers.
Sweet peas need well-draining soil that has a pH level of about 7.5 – slightly alkaline. Though they thrive in the sun, they grow well in shady areas too but their blooming period is late winter to early spring.
If for any reason, you feel like your sweet pea vine has fewer buds, then regular pruning might help you get more blossoms. The only downside is that it is seasonal, blooming fully once a year only, but its tendrils would be growing throughout the year with proper care.
13. Wild Potato Vine (Ipomoea Pandurata)
Wild Potato Vine is one of the best plants to grow when not a lot of sunlight reaches your garden.
It is a beautiful vine that can thrive in all sorts of conditions and has pretty, heart-shaped leaves with red petioles that open during daylight and close again once it’s dusk. They grow against heart-shaped leaves and are adored by hummingbirds in the wild.
Contrary to its name, the vine does not really grow potatoes, but the tubers of the wild potato vine are edible, so you can say this vine is multi-purpose. It is also highly adaptable and can adjust to drier soil as well, even reaching up to a height of 30 ft tall.
It will thrive in warmer months but can grow even in partial shade, as long as you have well-drained soil like clay, chalk, loam, or any sand-based soil that has an acidic to alkaline pH level.
14. Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata)
Chocolate vines are lovely flowering vines that have a gothic feeling with their dark colors – purple, hanging petals with dark green leaves. It can grow easily in full or partial shade and also produce edible fruits that look like eggplants in spring and summer.
They grow in clusters and start off as pink buds, but eventually, you will see them turn into a magenta color with time.
Chocolate vines get their name from the fact that their scent is sweet and they also have edible pulp around every seed. The leaves might fall off in winter, but the plant will continue to grow.
These vines can grow up to 20 – 40 ft tall and are highly adaptable, growing best in well-drained soil like loam, chalk, or clay. In the wild, they usually grow on mountains and trees and the vine as long as it has shade. Though it grows better in a warmer climate, it will thrive better if you water it regularly.
Fun fact – chocolate vines were and can still be used to weave baskets, so it’s a useful plant to have around in your backyard.
15. Canary Creeper Flowering Vine (Tropaeolum Peregrinum)
Tropaeolum Peregrinum – or the Canary Creeper Flowering Vine, is exactly what it sounds like. The flowers of this vine look like canaries with open wings and the deep-green leaves in the background contrast well with the bright yellow of the buds.
This is a great plant to grow in a shady backyard, as direct heat from the sun is not good for the vine. It is also highly adaptable to dry soils, but the Canary vine will flourish the best in neutral to slightly acidic soil.
Remember that this does not mean you should not water it at all – just that it’s okay to forget sometimes.
The Canary Creeper grows the best in warmer months like spring or summer but does not grow as tall as many flowering vines. The tallest you can expect is around 8 – 12 ft, so if you want a non-invasive species of climbing vine, this is the one to go for.
16. Trumpet Honeysuckle
Trumpet honeysuckle is a climbing vine that grows through shrubs and young trees up to 20 feet or more. Oval in shape, the leaves are essentially evergreen. It grows well in the shade and produces small, sweet-smelling flowers that appear in warm sunset tones.
The species is not invasive, and while tall, compared to other flowering and climbing vines, it grows only up to 20 ft. It usually blossoms fully in warmer seasons, but it is adaptable to shade and can stay growing throughout the year if there is well-draining soil and regular mulching.
Trumpet honeysuckles will also stay healthier if you give it occasional pruning and deadheading because the lower vines of the plant will be rejuvenated.
This vine is capable of handling pruning at any season, but the dormant period during autumn and winter is preferred by professionals.
17. Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)
Vines with bright-colored, tube-shaped flowers that dangle in front of fresh green foliage have a unique way of beautifying your garden.
Add a touch of warm hues to your shady garden with trumpet vines that are perfect for the job. This is a rapidly-growing perennial vine that grows in clusters on thin stems.
These plants are great for an elegant setting and can be found easily in temperate and tropical regions. Though sunlight can make it grow fast, this vine will survive even in the shade – up to 20 to 40 ft tall.
You need to keep it in well-draining soil like clay, loam, chalk, or any sand-based soil that is a little alkaline to acidic.
Trumpet vines are flashy plants and will have around 4 to 12 buds in each color – starting from orange and then ending in red with yellow hues at the neck.
They grow upwards, latching on to anything, and are perfect for attracting pollinators, so you might catch hummingbirds near these vines in the wild.
They can be invasive since they grow quickly in moist to dry soil alike, so they will do well with regular pruning.
18. Japanese Honeysuckle
Japanese honeysuckle is a variant of honeysuckle that is a perennial and exotic vine that grows rapidly and can be invasive. Despite this, people choose to keep it due to how attractive they look – gold and silver tubular flowers against fresh green foliage.
If you are not in a tropical region like countries in Asia or Florida, Wisconsin, and Texas in America, then these vines are fine to grow in your backyard. They are not shady vines but can be good for covering tall fences and walls.
Maintain your plants in soil that drains effectively and has a drainage hole at the bottom. Overwatering will be prevented thanks to this. Be careful not to allow standing water to contact the soil. During the plant’s blooming phase, fertilize it once every two to three weeks.
19. Butterfly Vine
The butterfly vine is a bright yellow flowering vine that can be found in regions that have warmer climates. In summer, the petals of the plant open up near its seed pods, making it resemble butterflies, where it gets its name from.
As they age, these yellow blooms will eventually turn brown and can be planted again.
It also changes in winter as the dark green foliage will lose its color, and sometimes might die. Butterfly vines require full to partial shade and well-draining soil like loam or chalk.
They grow up to be 15 – 20 ft tall and even if they may die sometimes in the cold, they resprout in spring.
20. American Groundnut (Apios americana)
The American Groundnut is a unique-shaped flowering plant that can grow even in partial shade and has flowers that resemble peas. The petals are thick and even the fragrance is a pleasant one which has been described as a mixture of cinnamon and lilies.
These flowering vines are generally warm-toned (pinkish brown outside, red-brown inside) and become edible buds in autumn. They are full of nutrients like iron and calcium three times more than that in the content of potatoes. Hence, it works two ways – as an edible pod as well as a decoration for your garden.
American Groundnut can grow up to 15 feet tall, and the season it blooms the most is summer. Not a lot of shade is required for this plant to grow, but make sure it is kept in well-drying soil like loam or clay.
However, remember that like most flowering and climbing vines that grow in the shade, American Groundnut is also invasive and can easily go out of control if proper trimming and pruning are not maintained.
Which Ivy Grows Best In Shade?
Some ivy that grows best in the shade is Boston Ivy and the Virginia Creeper as they have large leaves that can cool down the house on hot days.
Can Trumpet Vine Grow In Full Shade?
Trumpet vines are hardy and can grow in full as well as partial shade as long as there is soil that drains well. Even if the conditions are not always suitable, they are good at adapting to the surroundings.
What Is The Easiest Climbing Vine To Grow?
The easiest climbing vine to grow is Clematis – a large and flowering plant that comes in three varying types – spring, repeat, and summer/fall bloomers.
Can Vines Grow Without Direct Sunlight?
Most plants can thrive without being directly in the sun, as the rays are not always gentle and can sometimes cause dehydration. A little shade is always welcome, but not absolutely necessary.
Plants are pleasant to look at and create a wonderful atmosphere wherever they are, so it’s always a good idea to have them in your home. We hope that this list has helped you pick a plant that fits the aesthetic of your home.
All the options require minimum care, so make sure to put in the little effort to help them thrive. Happy gardening!