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Best Climbing Plants for Full Sun and Sunny Places.

Many of the popular climbing plants to be found in our gardens originated in woodlands or other areas of dappled shade. However, plants tend to become adaptable over time, and that together with a bit of breeding, has given us a wide range of climbing plants which are suitable for a sunny place.

The most inhospitable of all sunny places has to be brick walls facing south or south west – whether a house wall or boundary.  In this case it is not simply the direct sunlight, but the harboured and reflected heat and sunshine which is destructive of all but the most best suited for such sunny areas.

As well as the problem of direct sun and heat, you will of course also have to consider the dryness in full sun areas – both at planting time and also by way of general maintenance and watering.

Sunny positions can include, open aspects; stand-alone or fencing trellis; a pergola; house wall; solid fence; slatted fence or boundary construction.

Wisteria group of flowersSuitable climbing plants for sunny places can include seed-sown annuals; perennials – herbaceous or evergreen; shrubs and all manner of vines.

Types of plants for full sun, can be flowering; evergreen; self clinging; twining climbers; those that climb by way of modified leaves or thorns and sprawling plants that need a little help to attain the status of ‘climbers’!

Consideration will need to be given to how the plant actually ‘climbs’. For instance, if you plant a wisteria against a wall or other solid structure, it will just grow along the ground until it can find a suitable support upon which to ‘twine’ itself.

The Top Ten List of Climbers for Sunny Positions

The list includes perennial vines and annuals, but with the accent upon the permanent climbers such as Wisteria.

Wisteria sinensisWisteria sinensis  – The Wisteria is undoubtedly the most admired climbing plant which is well suited to full sun. It will need strong support in the early stages and thereafter, but it will reach the heights by way of a sturdy stem. Twining climber which is more suited to sunny wall than sunny fence – mainly because of its eventual size – and weight!

Camsis radicansCampsis radicans  – The Trumpet Vine or Creeper – or in some parts of USA, the Hummingbird Vine, with its open tubular funnel flowers massed in colourful clusters of orange or red during summer, climbs by way of aerial roots from its main and lateral stems. Pinnate foliage adds to the interest. Slow in first season but speeds up thereafter.  Best against a wall, where the aerial roots will support it after initial settling in period.

Potato vine
Solanum jasminoides
and S. crispum is well suited to being trained against wall, fence and is superb over a pergola – though dripping aphids may take a bit of the pleasure away unless dealt with. Choice of blue, or pure white flowers with evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage.

Eccremocarpus chilean glory vineEccremocarpus scaber - The Chilean Glory Vine is perfect for the sunniest of walls or fences. Evergreen in most areas and can easily be grown from saved seed for additional plants.


Climbing roseClimbing Roses. Ideal for hot sunny walls, fences, trellis or pergola, with varied flower colours and types. Hardly requires description, but is not often thought of as a climber for sunny places. Needs training along stout wired, or suited to sprawl of the top of a pergola framework.

Parthenocissus with red foliageParthenocissus – The Boston Ivy (P. tricuspidata) or Virginian Creeper (P. quinquefolia)  will put up with all the sun and heat it can be subjected to. The foliage display in autumn is legendary, though is of course non-evergreen.  Supported bu ‘suckers’ on the end of their tendrils – non invasive – so9 well suited to wall. Will also be happy along top of fence drooping down, or as a spectacular autumn cloak for your pergola

Trachelospermum jasminoidesTrachelospermum - T. jasminoides is the better choice with fully evergreen foliage and sweet scented white flowers not dissimilar to the Jasmine – hence it’s common name of Star Jasmine or Confederate Jasmine.  It is more of a vine by way of growth but will need support – either by trellis or strong wires. Good for sunny walls and ideal also for pergola.

Variegated EuonymusEuonymus fortunei – This is generally sold and thought of as a groundcover shrub, but will be happy self-clinging against a hot wall or sun-baked fence. A little slow to get started on its accent, but will remain clothed in evergreen foliage for every month of the year – sometimes with hints of red in the autumn.  There are several variegated forms to choose from including silver or gold as the foliage choice.

Vitis cognetiaeVitis coignetiae – Large heat-shaped leaves which are attractive enough in the summer, but then positively enthrall in the autumn before falling. Stunning display of gold, yellow, orange and red hues in the autumn.  Best suited to sunny fence or pergola, but can also be wall grown with suitable wire supports.

Ceanothus powder blueCeanothus – The California Lilacs are suited to hot dry sunny wall or fence situations, but will need a little attention to keep them flat against wall or fence. Well worth the extra little effort. Evergreen with stunning blue flower range on various varieties. Sometimes reputed to be non-hardy, though against a dry hot wall no problem, but can possibly suffer a little late frost damage – soon recovering.

Passion flowerPassiflora – The Passion Flower. P. caerulea is probably the hardiest, and again in a sunny position where the stems can be baked, it will see off most winter.
 Dark green glossy foliage, very unusual star shaped flowers, and then drooping orange fruit makes that a good choice.

Akebia quinata leafAkebia quinata Chocolate Vine - Sunny position best for fruiting development.

Semi evergreen with spicy scented flowers and attractive semi-evergreen foliage



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