I live in zone 5b (Chicago suburbs) and unfortunately have limited growing space. I do have a western facing wall that is completely bare and was wondering if anyone has experience growing fruit in a similar set up. Would it be possible to grow shade tolerant plants up against the wall such as currants/gooseberries or even alpine strawberries?
How much shade does your western exposure actually get? Most west-facing exposures are pretty bright and hot. They generally aren’t where you would plant shade-loving plants.
How about espaliering an apple or pear tree against the wall?
Shade tolerant is not = shade loving.
Shade tolerant plants on western wall in zone 5…I would generally expect to work out.
I will be planting currants, gooseberries, honeyberries, Saskatoon serviceberry, and have jostaberry on my north face (Z6A western PA). I’d suggest looking for Aurora, Indigo gem, Beauty, Beast, and Blizzard haskaps. Also @BlueBerry had suggested Cranberry Bush Viburnum to me and gave a great list of cultivars.
I’d check to see how hot it gets on a sunny afternoon by the wall before you plant anything too close to it. I wanted to plant something to shade the west side of my house and help keep our house cooler. There’s an 8 ft tall fence a few feet away so I went with evergreen huckleberries since they will be in the shade a lot of the day. They definitely wilted some in the summer because of heat radiating off the house and they are planted about 4 feet away from it. If your west wall heats up like mine does currants, gooseberries, and honeyberries may not do well there.
Make the lower part of the wall non-reflective in summer for young plants. Once they grow and shade the wall, you are fine.