Many people think finding plants for a north-facing wall is hard work because plants don’t thrive there, but that’s not always the case because a north-facing wall can look astonishing when it’s packed with textured greenery.  

The trick is to choose the right plants for a north-facing wall. These will include plants for shade and dry soil. There are many plants with delicate foliage that burn in the sun, so a shady wall provides ideal conditions. These include climbers, evergreens, and delicately scented flowers for all months of the year. 

With a little planning, you can transform your north-facing wall into a lush tropical rainforest or a scented oasis full of soft, textured greens. 

Here’s how:

The jungle foliage of evergreen Fatsia Japonica on north facing wall.

Luscious jungle foliage with Fatsia Japonica.


Let’s Talk Budgets 

Planting a new border can be costly. You don’t have to splash out on large plants if the cost is prohibitive, greenery tends to grow quickly with enough water and patience can save you money.  On the other hand, if you’ve been looking at a wall for years and you’re fed up with it we specialise in mature plants with a big impact – no wait required. Whatever your budget the planting scheme will stay the same.

The Aim

Because flowers are in shorter supply you aim to create layers of different greens with lots of different shapes.  If you have a long north-facing wall try to repeat your planting to create a natural flow that holds the eye. 

Prepare the Soil

Before you start to plant anything take a look at your soil. Chances are it’s dry and lacking in nutrients. Dig in plenty of organic matter and remove stones or weeds. This will give your new leafy plants the best start. 

Back of the Wall

The back of your border needs height. Plants for a north-facing wall include bamboo which takes up little room and keeps its colour all year round. Try Fargesia Murielae Simba which is a non-invasive clumping bamboo with shiny dark leaves that rustle in the breeze. 

If bamboo isn’t your thing there’s climbing hydrangea petiolaris a white-flowered hydrangea vine plant with the RHS award of garden merit. We have a variegated version too with heart-shaped leaves and white flowers that brighten a north-facing shady spot.

Evergreen ivy is always a popular climber for shade. Helix marginata elegantissima loves a north-facing wall and has beautiful variegated foliage. 

If you’re a bird lover you can’t go wrong with a pyracantha. Bees love the pretty white spring flowers and birds eat the winter berries. We have red, yellow and orange berried evergreen pyracanthas that hug the wall and take up little space.   

Speaking of wildlife, a luscious evergreen north wall is the perfect spot for a hedgehog house. These adorable nocturnal creatures enjoy the shade of leafy planning scheme and will eat up the snails for you.

Climbing Hydrangea plant on north facing wall

Sumptuous climbing Hydrangea Petiolaris thriving on a north facing wall


Mid Border Planting

The middle of your border will need mid-height plants for a north-facing wall. These can include ever-popular ferns and tree ferns. There are many varieties of fern so you can play with colour and texture. 

Aucuba japonica spotted laurel is another great choice. It’s incredibly hardy with green foliage and yellow freckles. Keep it at mid-height with a yearly prune and it’ll brighten up the shade. 

For more rich and luscious jungle foliage you can’t go wrong with fatsia japonica. Again, keep it at a manageable height with a yearly prune. Fatsia has floaty fat-fingered foliage and thrives in a north-facing border. 

For a splash of evergreen colour and scented flowers in winter, you can’t beat sarcococca ruscifolia which is also known as Christmas box or sweet box. Pop this one mid to front border as it’s a low-growing evergreen shrub with small sweet flowers. A yearly prune will keep it mid-height or lower.

Sarcocca Ruscifolia and Holly Fern plants on a north facing wall

Mid border with this gorgeous combination of Sarcocca Ruscifolia and Holly Fern.


Front of the Border

You might want to smother the front of your border with Christmas box, but another great choice is topiary. 

Topiary such as ilex crenata globes or cones only need an annual clip and bring fantastic formal structure to a north-facing border contrasting with free-flowing fatsia or ferns.

Fill in the gaps with hellebores, snowdrops, lily of the valley and dogtooth violets that are all low-growing and thrive in shade. 

Other short flowering plants for a north-facing wall are snakes head fritillaries and astilbe, but these will require more water than the other more rugged types.

Topiary planted on a north facing wall, Ilex Crenata globes and cone shapes.

Create an amazing border by adding Topiary, Ilex Crenata Globes and Cones.

Create A Luscious North-Facing Wall

Plants for a north-facing border create a soothing luscious oasis filled with texture and hints of colour. 

It’s worth taking the time to choose the right plants so your efforts are properly rewarded. Choose shade-loving plants and your north-facing wall will flourish.