5 Best Climbers for Pergolas To Attract Wildlife

  • By: Erik
  • Date: 17 January 2022
  • Read Time: 4 min.

Do you have a new pergola or maybe you’re about to buy one and want to know if it will attract wildlife?  Then, yes, a pergola should attract birds, butterflies and lots more mother nature’s little creatures.

However, you must use the correct decorative climbing plants to weave through the beams to provide the attractants for nature such as food or flowers to pollenate.

So, what are the best climbing plants to attract nature?

5 Best Pergola Climbers to Attract Wildlife

Here are 7 climbing plants that attract wildlife, check more information further down

  • Honeysuckle (Bees, butterflies and birds)
  • Clematis Tri-Colour (Butterflies, insects and bees)
  • Climbing Hydrangea (Insects, bumblebees and insects)
  • Firethorn-Pyracantha (Birds)
  • Dog Rose – Rosa Canina (Aphids, ladybirds, birds)



Honeysuckle is perfect for training up a wall or pergola.  It can be easily grown in well-drained soil with access to partial or full sun.  You can expect it to grow anywhere from 1.75 metres right up to 20 metres tall.

This plant extends by entwining itself through the beams of the pergola and one established it provides a very nice scent which isn’t overpowering.

The flowers are available in lots of different colours including green and yellow to orange and red.

The flower itself has 10 insects that exclusively feed on it and is well known for attracting bees, butterflies, thrushes, warblers and small mammals.

Honeysuckle should be pruned in later winter or early spring and some variations are evergreen whilst others are deciduous.

Clematis Tri-Colour

The Clematis can add a splash of colour to any pergola.

This beautiful climbing plant is ideal for pergolas due to its climbing ability and can add an uplifting feel with the beautiful colours available.

Due to the rapid expansion of the plant, you can spread each plant 2/3 feet apart for best coverage.  The soil type you’ll need would be an average to rich but one that is moist but well-drained.

The clematis is especially well known for attracting butterflies, insects and bees to your garden and can be planted in early winter and like most climbing plants they must grow into the sun.

Climbing Hydrangea

This heavy vined climbing plant will require a trellis to support the weight of this climber.

Due to the sheer size of the vines and flowering areas, it gives a great shelter for insects and attracts small bumblebees and hoverflies.

For those of you looking around for choice, you’ll be pleased to know that there are 70-75 different species and they can literally grow everywhere.

Climbing hydrangeas will flourish in the right conditions that have a rich, moist soil that is well-draining.  The vine grows equally as effective in full or partial sunlight.


Firethorn can grow are large shrubs that need minimal maintenance.  They are very easy to cut back and produce white flowers from May to June and red berries in autumn.

Birds are especially partial to the red berries and if your pergola is in a quiet space, the birds can easily strip back the berries before Christmas time.

Firethorns are very hardy and can be grown in shady and exposed areas of your garden.

This climber grows quite thick and is ideal to use up the side of a pergola should you wish to block out a neighbour tp provide more privacy.

Dog Rose – Rosa Canina

The dog rose has a height and spread of approximately 3x3m and is a hardy and soil versatile climbing plant.

There are lots of cultivated varieties and their flowers can be singular or multi-petalled in design.

There are over 200 species of insects that feed on this climber and should your pergola cover a pond then as long as this dog rose is kept controlled and not directly over the pond then it could be a good source of insects for your fish.

The flowers are an important source of nectar and during the winter the berries feed blackbirds, redwings and waxwing birds.

The above plants are important climbers that can help transform a pergola into a spectacular garden feature.

Here is a little nuisance to pond owners that will be rather dismayed by your pergola.

Here’s why Pergolas Deter Herons…FACT!

One strange fact you might be unaware of, herons avoid water with obstacles around it.  Typically they like to land close to the water and slowly wade into it.

Setting up a pergola around the edge of the body of water will deter them from landing around the pond.


They could still land further away and walk down but having one lowers the chance of a heron landing at all.

You can even set it up over your pond if it’s on the smaller side, this should cause a drastic reduction in the number of herons you see around your pond.

Fun Fact:

Pergolas can home insects, and when situated over a pond, these occasionally fall into the water – providing your fish with a gourmet meal!

On the other hand though, if you’re wanting more herons to land then it’s advisable that you set up your pergola further away from the body of water.

I’ve had pergolas in the past around 15m away from the pond and had herons land nearby almost daily yet zero when it was 5m away so vary the distance to your preference.

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