Trailing or cascading plant for top of a retaining wall


Hello there,
I have an unsightly retaining wall at the back of my yard. I’m hoping to plant some nice perennial vines at the top of it this spring that will cascade or trail down the wall. I’m hoping to find something very hardy and tolerant of bright sun and shade, and ideally something with flowers. Hardiness would be the top priority. I was wondering if clematis, candytuft or honeysuckle could be options but I’m open to anything.

Thank you so much!


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners for info on trailing vines for a retaining wall. You mention that you will plant the vines on top of the wall, so they trail downwards. Most vines prefer to grow upwards towards the light and planting them in soil at the bottom of the wall might be best. Some vines are self-clinging, while others need a trellis or wires to cling to. If you have large planters on the top of the wall with ample soil and moisture for the root systems, that may work. Some flowering vines that tend to trail down are Silver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii), Perfoliate honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium), and Chinese wisteria (Wisteria chinensis). Grape vines are quite hardy and produce tasty hanging fruit at the end of the summer.

My personal favourite for wall coverage is Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala) which takes a couple of years to establish coverage. Large white blooms appear in June on woody stems and it is very hardy. On a north or west wall, this vine is shade tolerant, but also does well in sun.

Below are pertinent links to vines for walls and fences.

Climbing vines for privacy

Landscape Ontario List of climbing vines

CBC article vines

Native climbing vines

In addition, our Toronto Master Gardeners website provides answers to questions for specific vines such as clematis, honeysuckle, etc. Just type in the plant name and all the information will come up. Have fun with your new plantings and enjoy the colourful new view of your wall.