Possum Grape Vine Info – Tips For Growing Arizona Grape Ivy

By Bonnie L. Grant

Gardeners who have an ugly wall or underused vertical space, may want to try growing Arizona grape ivy. What is Arizona grape ivy? This attractive, ornamental vine can get between 15 and 30 feet in height and self-attaches with small tendrils that bear suction cups on the ends. These “feet” cement themselves to structures and can be damaging if removal is necessary. In some zones, this plant is considered invasive so check with your local extension office before purchase. Otherwise, throw caution to the wind and check out Arizona grape ivy plants (Cissus trifoliata).

What is Arizona Grape Ivy?

Vertical spaces with green vines spilling over them accent the garden and lend lushness that bare wall or trellis simply can’t fake. Arizona grape ivy plants are fast growing, easy care vines with tiny flowers and pretty lobed leaves. They are mostly herbaceous but develop a woody base and numerous stems. Another name for the plant is possum grape vine.


Those of us not from Mexico or the American South may wonder, what are Arizona grape ivy plants? This North American native is a fast growing vine that climbs into trees in its wild range. The plant is remarkably adaptable to almost any lighting because of its nature as an understory tree.

In the wild, the tree starts life either in a sunny clearing or in a crowded forest with no light. As the plant grows upward, it reaches brighter and brighter conditions. In cultivation, the vine thrives in partial to full sun or even shade. In its habitat, the plant grows in stream banks, rocky ravines, and roadsides.

Possum Grape Vine Info

Possum or grape ivy is a hardy, herbaceous vine. It has 3-lobed rubbery leaves nearly 4 inches long with grayish green color. The plant produces 2-inch wide small greenish flat clusters of blooms which become tiny, grape-like fruits. These are green but mature to a rich bluish black. The stems have tendrils which coil around any object to help pull the plant up as it grows.

Reportedly, the leaves produce a rather nasty odor when crushed. The plant is attractive to bees and butterflies. Birds eat the fruits. Basic possum grape vine info must include the fact that the plant is semi-evergreen. In warmer climates, the plant tends to keep its leaves, but in temperate zones it will drop leaves in fall.

Growing Arizona Grape Ivy

This is one of the easiest plants to grow and is suitable for United States Department of Agriculture zones 6 to 11. Once established, care of Arizona grape ivy is negligible.

Choose a well-drained site where soil has been loosened and amended with compost or other organic material. The plant can tolerate either acidic to mildly alkaline soil.

Provide a vertical structure for support as the plant grows and help it along at the beginning with plant ties.

Possum vine is drought tolerant and resistant to deer but it will need water during establishment. It also self-sows, so you may wish to remove the seed heads before they ripen. Care of Arizona grape ivy may require occasional pruning to keep the plant in habit.

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