Passion flower

Seven of the best climbers for wildlife

Climbing plants provide valuable shelter and food for wildlife - and they look good too. Here are seven of the most wildlife-friendly options.

Climbing plants are worth their weight in gold, clothing walls and fences, and hiding unsightly views. They also add ornamental interest with pretty foliage and flowers, many of which are scented. Plus, large vertical surfaces allow climbing plants the space they need to spread out, for full dramatic effect.

Discover 10 climbers to grow.

A bare fence isn't much use to wildlife - birds can't nest in it, butterflies can't hibernate in it, and bees, caught in a sudden downpour, can't fly use it for shelter. Cover it in climbers, and it's a different story - even a single plant can support a range of wildlife species.

Here are seven climbers that not only look good but are great for wildlife, too.

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Passion flower

Passiflora caerulea has dark, evergreen leaves and exotic-looking flowers. It provides general shelter for insects and birds, and nectar for some pollinators.

Honeysuckle

Scented honeysuckles come in a range of colours, from dark red to yellow. They provide shelter for nesting birds, nectar for pollinators (including moths), leaves for caterpillars and berries for birds. Our native Lonicera periclymenum is ideal.

Hops

Humulus lupulus provides shelter for insects and leaves for caterpillars, including the comma butterfly.

Ivy

Ivy (Hedera helix) provides long-lasting, evergreen cover. It provides shelter for nesting birds and hibernating insects, nectar for pollinators, berries for birds and leaves for caterpillars (including the holly blue butterfly).

Star jasmine

Trachelospermum jasminoides is a woody evergreen climber with dark leaves and white, fragrant flowers. It provides general shelter for birds and insects, and flowers for pollinators.

Wisteria

Wisteria is a stunning woody climber with clusters of lightly fragrant, lilac flowers in spring. It provides shelter for nesting birds and insects, nectar and pollen for bees.

Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'

Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' has nodding yellow flowers in summer and wispy seedheads in autumn. It provides shelter for insects and birds and nectar and pollen for bees.

Want to attract more wildlife to your garden? Discover the 10 best herbs for wildlife.

Climbing plants are worth their weight in gold, clothing walls and fences, and hiding unsightly views.

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Avoid the 'rain shadow' when planting

It's important to avoid the 'rain shadow' - the area immediately beneath a wall or fence where the rain doesn't fall and where conditions are too dry for most plants to grow successfully. Plant climbers 45cm away, at an angle, to avoid it.

Other plants to try

Field rose (Rosa arvensis) - glossy leaves on arching stems, plus white flowers

Dog rose (Rosa canina) - a climbing rose with lots of pink flowers and a yellow centre

Clematis vitalba (Old man's beard') - our native clematis, with pretty white flowers and fluffy seedheads

Discover more ideas and inspiration

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