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Full Shade Climbing Plants

By Amy Hannaford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Some climbing plants love the shade.
clambering plant on the wall image by Anna Telnova from Fotolia.com

While most plants need sunlight to grow their best, there are some plants that seek shade and thrive without intense light. Almost every garden has dark corners that need some loving care and color. Climbing plants help cover walls, fences or arbors and are typically fast growing, adding a lush mass of greenery or perhaps flowers.

Dutchman's Pipe

The Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) is a climbing vine that grows up to 30 feet tall and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. This adaptable twining vine thrives almost anywhere, especially in full shade. It has large, 10-inch-wide heart-shaped leaves with fragrant flowers in the summer. Dutchman's pipe is virtually pest-free.

Hydrangea vines

With large clusters of white flowers surrounded by heart-shaped, dark green leaves, hydrangea vines (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) provide lushness to dark corners of the yard. This climbing plant grows from 10 to 25feet tall and wide, depending on the variety and is hardy in growing zones 5 to 7. Hydrangea vines produce aerial roots, which attach to walls, fences or sides of trees, helping it to climb and grow. All parts of the plant are poisonous, so keep in an area where children and pets cannot get to it.


Akebia (Akebia quinata) has twining stems that grow up trellises, fences and arbors. It grows from 25 to 30 feet tall and is hardy in zones 5 to 8. The clusters of purple fragrant blooms appear in early spring, blooming at night and closing up during the day. Akebia is a semi-evergreen plant with colorful blue-green leaves that also add color to the landscape once the flowers are finished blooming.

Boston Ivy

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus) is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and is a fast-growing climbing plant that gets as tall as 70 feet. It has adhesive disk-like stems that attach to the sides of fences, walls or other structures helping it to climb and cover the area. Boston ivy has dark green foliage which turns bright red in the fall, followed by small purple fruit, which is poisonous. This shade-loving plant quickly fills dark areas in the landscape.


About the Author


Amy Hannaford teaches childbirth education classes and a healthy pregnancy series in Southern Oregon. Hannaford holds an Associate of Arts degree, a certificate in medical assisting, and has been a childbirth educator and birth doula for 20 years. She has been writing articles for Demand Media since 2008.