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I live in a flatshare, in a room on the ground floor (first floor for North Americans). To prevent people from looking into our rooms all the time (there's a parking lot in front), we have outdoor blinds/screens (about 5ft/1.5m high and 15ft/4.5m wide) made out of bamboo.

I would like to cover those outdoor blinds/screens with some green. I've been thinking of Ivy because it grows so fast.

Are there any other plants that can quickly cover the outdoor blinds/screens that I would be able to get seedlings for and start right now? Or is this a completely idiotic idea because Winter is the wrong time of year to start any outdoor plant?

I'm in southern Germany in a climate that Wikipedia calls "temperate seasonal"; there is some chance of snow, although usually only a few days a year; the low end of winter temperature is about -2°C (28°F).

Additional information:

  • Outdoors underneath a balcony.
  • Facing North-ish, it doesn't get a lot of sunlight.
  • Ideally, I would plant them in containers but planting them in the ground is also an option.
  • Flowers would be nice, but an evergreen covering is also acceptable.
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Have you considered bamboo? It would grow next to the screens instead of on them, but it would fit all your other requirements: happy in a container, grows quickly, evergreen (depending on the hardiness of the variety and your climate), some varieties are shade tolerant, and while the flowers are not exciting, there are variegated varieties available. – Niall C. Oct 17 '11 at 1:09

I would try these fast growing annual vines Morning glory or it's more refined relative Moonflower Ipomoea alba or Calonyction aculeatum.

These vines are easy from seed and can be started indoors 3 to 6 weeks before the last spring frosts. If you can find the seed for Ipomoea alba you need to nick or abrade the seed before planting and allow extra germination time.
They do not take up a lot of space in the yard and are effective in covering large areas. They flower daily but the flowers face the sun so you will not see anything on the shady side.

I have bought seed from this European supplier who is very reputable and has those species as seed.

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Virginia creeper is not an evergreen, but they literally will grow anywhere you plant them. In some areas they are considered invasive, so be careful not to plant it under large trees.

  • It will do well under a balcony
  • It will grow in full sun to full shade
  • It would grow in a container if it was large enough
  • It does not have spectacular flowers or evergreen foliage, But it becomes brilliantly red and orange in fall and grows clusters of blue berries
  • It grows faster than ivy, at up to twenty feet the first year. They can be kept much smaller if you want
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I have used Black-eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata), an annual vine, to cover a fence with a northern exposure. In such a semi-shaded location, the flowering was reduced, but the vine still covered well. Of course, like the morning glory, you will need to plant it each spring.

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