How to Grow Virginia Creeper

09/30/2020 | Ken Davis Companion Plants, Fall, How to Grow..

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Good fences make good neighbors, but fences can be downright ugly. This Arizona native vine is specially selected to dress up those miles of stockade fence. A mountain vine with rich green foliage turns fire engine red through October with blue fruit accents. When spaced at 8′ intervals, this fast-growing vine covers a boring fence within a season. Plant red walls of beauty that are absolutely deer and javelina PROOF!

A close relative of Boston ivy, the Virginia creeper can be used for ground cover or a climbing vine on stone walls and trellises, supported by its grasping tendrils. Its leaves have five leaflets and morph from their summer green into a fall foliage color ranging from red to burgundy. This spectacular change should earn the plant a spot on any list of the top shrubs and vines with Autumn color. The flowers are small, but the berries are a pleasing dark blue enjoyed by birds.

Botanical Name         Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Common Name         Arizona creeper, Virginia creeper, Victoria creeper, five- leaved ivy, five-finger, woodbine

Plant Type                  Deciduous perennial vine

Mature Size               30′ feet

Sun Exposure            Full sun to part shade

Soil pH                       5.1 to 8 pH

Bloom Time               Summer

Flower Color Greenish white

Hardiness Zones        4-9

Native Area                Rocky Mountains to the eastern United States

How to Grow Virginia Creeper

Groundcover for erosion control is the number one use for this vine. Virginia creeper also climbs up trees naturally. Train it onto garden arbors, pergolas, and down unsightly fencelines. Although it’s a climbing vine, it sprawls between boulders, over landscape cuts to hold soils from erosion.

Light

In the mountains, Virginia Creeper prefers 6+ hours of sun. The more sun equals more leaves with better Autumn color.

Soil

Grow Virginia creeper in well-drained soil. It will grow well in a variety of soil types, including clay, sand, or loam. It will tolerate a range of soil acidity and alkalinity.

Water

Water newly planted trees regularly with a garden hose for at least one month (2 months in Summer). Automatic irrigation systems may not be sufficient initially. Water frequency will vary according to the season, exposure, and plant size.

April – Oct this Maple should be irrigated 2 x weekly.

Nov – Mar this Maple should be irrigated 2 x monthly

Fertilizer

Feed 4x Times per Year with either 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food, Soil Sulfur, or Humic. Here’s the recommendation by season:

Spring = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food + Soil Sulfur

Summer= 7-4-4 All Purpose Food + Humic

September = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food

December = 7-4-4 All Purpose Food

Varieties of Virginia Creeper

Although standard Virginia creeper grows well in most yards, you might try several improved horticultural varieties for increased pest resistance:

Engelmann’s ivy – is less vigorous than the species plant. Some bronze color tends to creep into its otherwise red fall foliage. It clings well to walls and fences.

Monham – has leaves with white variegations.

Variegata – is less vigorous, with yellow and white variegation of the leaves, which becomes pink and red in autumn.

Pruning

Prune Virginia creeper vines well in the winter or early spring each year to keep them under control

especially if they threaten to grow over gutters or encroach on trees. Vines that have come detached will not reattach to a surface, so they should be trimmed away, as should any dead or diseased vines.

Virginia Creeper vs. Poison Ivy

While Virginia creeper is often mistaken for poison ivy, it doesn’t have the urushiol toxin that causes the poison ivy rash. The key difference is that poison ivy and poison oak has three leaves on a stem, no more. Virginia creeper has five leaves on a stem.

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