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I need a climber to grow over a new north-facing fence. It needs to look good all year round as it is very close to our conservatory. Can anyone tell me if Pileostegia Viburnoides (climbing hydrangea) is a good one?

On plant Pileostegia Viburnoides



It is, but it's slow-growing. Mine's been in over three years and it's up to about 5' now. It does have a few flowers each year and the leaves are glossy.

How about planting Clematis 'Nelly Moser' as well - she flowers twice a year and she prefers to be in a shaded position, or her flowers fade.

20 Jul, 2010


I too have a north-east fence that I was planning to cover. I looked through couple of books on Climbers to find out the hardiness as I have to have an evergreen cover. I am in West Yorkshire and we do get cold winds in winter.

I am a newbie so the experience gardeners (like Spritzhenry) will have better answer for you so I am only sharing what I have read and not from my experience. I am only throwing some ideas that I thought about.

Climbing hydrangea is frost hardy till -5 degrees and will need winter protection. In cold winds it may loose few leaves but being hardy and evergreen upto -5 degrees, it will always survive. Ofcourse it is a slow grower.

Clematis Nelly Moser is quoted as perfect Northside wall/fence grower and is hardy till -15 degrees with no winter protection needed. Thing I would consider there is what happens if it gets clematis wilt etc. as many Clematis may fail if you are not particular with fertilizing, watering, pruning etc. So think about what if you lost it .. are you until you grow something else? Some people on this website who are from manchester said that they faced issues with failing Clematis so I decided not to go with Clematis all by itself. Hampshire might be warmer than Yorkshire.

What I decided was to go with multi colour foliage of Ivys (Hedera Helix .. check out if you are interested) to create the evergreen foliage. There are some Ivys that turn purple/red shades in winter to add to that. Ivys are very strong so you will never loose the coverage.

Then grow Clematis Nelly Moser throuh them if you want. I don't know how that will look though. You can grow them on innerside in Pot for your own pleasure from Conservatory. If that suits you then you can grow roses and annuals like sweetpeas too. Ofcourse if you want flowering fence for show to public then you can try growing them through the Ivys. Grow them in pots and keep the pots near the fence. That way if they didn't look good through Ivys you could simply remove the pots. And if they did look good then you could plant them in ground. I will leave them in pot since you have to consider that Clematis need humus rich soil for good flowering where as Ivys like alkaline. You have to give preference to that plant which you want for fence coverage and grow others in pots so that you can have each pot filled with different soli/fertilizer that is best suitable for the flowering. Many people have flowering plants that don't really flower as much due to not the right soil etc. You get Clematis fertilizer which I think is acidic so you can't plat clematis next to a alkaline loving plant etc. So best is to grow shade loving plants in pots and place them near the Ivy planted in ground. You can't do other way round because you want your fence plants to be in ground for theie roots to grow unrestricted.

So if you are looking to cretae all year screening for privacy for your conservatory there is nothing better than Ivys. And they are much better looking (variegated) than the bog standard hedging of privets and laurels etc.

Enough o fmy rambling.

Good luck.


20 Jul, 2010


Sam - several points here. Clematis 'Nelly Moser' is not one that suffers from wilt as far as I'm aware. It's very reliable.

My Pileostegia came through the last two winters with no loss of leaves or damage. We had very low temps even here, and I lost several plants, but not that one. It needs to go in the soil, not in a pot, too. I would never suggest planting 'Nelly' in a pot, either. You're right that when the planting hole is dug, the Clematis will need rich and fertile soil. I normally add a handful of chicken manure pellets when I back-fill. To feed it, I water on diluted tomato food, which wouldn't harm the Pileostegia, in fact it would do it good!

Unfortunately, it won't be possible for Oakleyr. to grow sweet peas or roses in this area of his/her garden, as they both need sunny positions - sweetpeas especially must have full sun.

Ivies are good in this situation, I agree with you - but we weren't asked about those, so I didn't suggest them.

I hope this helps....I've written an essay too! :-))

20 Jul, 2010


Please may i add a point about Clematis here ......
Very few clematis suffer from 'wilt', what most people see and 'think' is wilt is usually dehydration.

These plants have 'very' long roots (so unsuitable to any but a 12" deep pot, modern patio ones might be an exception- not sure) and need copious amounts of water in their first year of planting, if they don't get it their leaves dry and shrivel turning brown ...... also, root disturbance at this stage by planting close and touching/moving a root will see it off .... i did this very thing a few months ago.

Clematis actually don't need a lot of fuss - you don't have to be feeding and fertilising (and they don't need acidic soil - i have all of mine in neutral or alkaline soil) you can put them in the ground and forget about them (apart from the watering) because they are incredibly easy to cope with, remember water, water, water and you'll be fine.
I have all (20 odd!) of my Clematis growing through evergreen shrubs which adds beautiful colour to otherwise dark plants.

(I also had a climbing hydrangea and can indeed vouch for their slowness .... i hoiked mine out in the end because it pleased the slugs and snails more than it did me !!!)

Sam/Kurlakid, your knowledge is good but sometimes the reference books we read give misleading information and i think that could be the case in a couple of your points, many times i've read that a plant should do this or that and it does something completely different - especially heights/spreads !

21 Jul, 2010


Thank you. That is all very helpful. I think I'll give the pileostegia/Nelly Moser combination a go. Hadn't thought of that.

I realise that ivy is the alternative, but we've grown that in the past and it is so vigorous that it really takes over after a bit. We had terrible trouble controlling it and the area I want to cover is more limited than the fence we had before, so we didn't really want to go down that route again.

Thanks again.

21 Jul, 2010


You're welcome....and I have experience of rampant ivy, too! :-(

21 Jul, 2010



Thanks for your comments. I am only learning.

how do you prune your clematis growing through the bushes?

Do you think I could grow Nelly Moser through Ivys? (Northside fence)
How will I prune it? Wouldn't it get all mixed up with Ivys (or pileostegia in Oakleyre's case). If you just pruned the top alongwith Ivys, then would it flower as much as it should?


23 Jul, 2010


Hi Sam - 'Nelly Moser' is a group 2 Clematis, so she doesn't need pruning. If you see any dead 'bits' in the spring when the new buds appear, you can tidy her up, but that's all she needs in the way of pruning, so it doesn't matter if she does climb amongst any other evergreen climbers.

Does that help?

23 Jul, 2010


thanks Spritzhenry.

23 Jul, 2010

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