How to grow Virginia creeper
All you need to know about growing and caring for the popular climber, Virginia creeper.
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Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is a rampant climber. It is typically used to clothe walls of large houses. It bears inconspicuous flowers in summer, followed by small blackberries in autumn. Its autumn colour is unrivalled – its fresh green leaves turn glorious shades of red and orange before falling.
Bear in mind that Parthenocissus quinquefolia is listed on Schedule 9 of the UK Wildlife & Countryside Act as an invasive non-native species. This doesn't mean you can't grow it in your garden, but it does mean you should do everything you can to ensure it doesn't spread into the wild. Virginia creeper is very fast growing and can reach heights of 20m. We encourage you to be careful to keep its growth in check and take care when disposing of clippings. While Parthenocissus quinquefolia is still widely available to buy in garden centres and nurseries, we encourage you to consider alternative options, including closely related Boston ivy and Chinese Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus henryana.
How to grow Virginia creeper
Grow Virginia creeper in moist but well drained soil in sun to shade. Offer support in the form of canes or a small piece of trellis in the first two years, until it develops suckers and becomes self-clinging. Make sure you keep its growth in check by pruning annually in autumn, taking care to ensure it's kept clear from gutters and windows. Dispose of clippings in your own garden, either in a closed compost heap or bonfire.
Virginia creeper: jump links
- Where to grow Virginia creeper
- Planting Virginia creeper
- Caring for Virginia creeper
- Propagating Virginia creeper
- Virginia creeper - pests and problem-solving
- Virginia creepers to grow
Where to grow Virginia creeper
Virginia creeper is suitable for large gardens only. Grow it against a wall of a house, where it has room to spread without becoming a problem. Less rampant varieties such as Chinese Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus henryana, can be grown against a garden wall or fence.
When to plant Virginia creeper
Plant Virginia creeper in spring or autumn, so it can establish well while the soil is moist and warm.
How to plant Virginia creeper
Prepare the soil by removing weeds, and then dig a planting hole. Place the rootball of the Virginia creeper in the hole to ensure it will sit at the same depth it was planted in the pot, then adjust the depth of the hole as necessary. Fill back with soil or compost and water well. Use canes or a small piece of trellis to support the vines before they develop self-clinging suckers.
Virginia creeper plant care
Prune Virginia creeper annually by cutting back hard to keep growth in check. This is especially important if growing Virginia creeper up a house – take care to ensure it doesn't encroach on gutters and windows.
How to propagate Virginia creeper
Virginia creeper is easy to propagate from layering. Roots develop easily from stems that touch the soil, so simply dig up a self-rooted stem and pot it up. You can do this anytime, so keep an eye out for rooted stems. It's also possible to take summer cuttings of Virginia creeper.
Types of Virginia creeper to grow
- Parthenocissus henryana – also known as the Chinese Virginia creeper. This is the less vigorous of the genus spreading to 10m. Attractive leaves composed of five leaflets with white veins. Insignificant summer flowers. Stunning autumn colour. Prefers a sheltered spot. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
- Parthenocissus quinquefolia – probably not one to plant, but more to avoid, as this is now categorised as an invasive, non-native species. It's distinctive because the foliage is made up of five, coarse, large, raggedy edged leaflets. Extremely vigorous, handle with care
- Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Yellow Wall’ – a reasonably new variety offering green leaves in summer that turn bright yellow in autumn. Spread 14m. Protected under Plant Breeders Rights