Gloomy, dark, cool, and typically dry, it’s a challenge to find plants that do well in the shadow of a north-facing wall. But that doesn’t mean ivy or bust. There are plenty of plants that not only thrive in these conditions, but some even bloom up a storm, too. Some are natural climbers, while others are shrubs that you either leave alone to sprawl or prune to grow against a wall.
If this sounds familiar–the only time your north-facing wall gets any direct sunlight is in the first and last few hours of the day at midsummer–then take a look at these five easy-to-grow favorites.
Native to the mountains of central Europe and northeastern Asia, it’s no wonder it can cope with growing in challenging conditions. Covered in masses of nodding deep blue blooms in late spring–train on a wall or let it wend through nearby shrubs or trees. Zone: 3 – 9
Invaluable for early spring color, Japanese quince is an incredibly easy shrub to grow. It’s tolerant of virtually any soil and waterwise once established. (This flowering shrub also does well in east-facing conditions). Zone: 5 – 9
Camellias are an excellent option for growing against north facing walls in a protected spot as they’re shielded from the morning sun that can burn blooms. Sparkling white, double flowers come on mid-winter. Zone: 8 – 10
This luxuriously fast-growing climber is commonly known as the chocolate vine, due to the intensely-colored, aromatic blooms.Climbs and twines to cover a wall (may require support such as a trellis or sturdy twine strung horizontally). Zone: 5 – 9