Image by Leonora Enking
By Bonnie L. Grant
A vigorous and fast growing vine, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is an outstanding plant for nearly any soil and light situation. Growing Virginia creeper vine provides a nearly carefree addition to the landscape. Virginia creeper maintenance is limited to light pruning and tying up. Learn how to prune Virginia creeper vine and what problems and pests may be an issue.
Growing Virginia Creeper Vine
Virginia creeper produces one of the most spectacular color displays of fall. The five pointed leaves are usually just an average green but turn a brilliant crimson once temperatures cool.
Virginia creeper can grow in sun to full shade, where soils are soggy to dry and even in lightly alkaline soils. The adaptability of the plant makes it suited for any site but care should be taken to keep it off wood siding and gutters. The vine climbs and adheres to vertical surfaces with aerial roots, and the weight of the plant could pull off boards and misalign gutters.
If you are trying to cover an area with the vine, plant several at once, as the plant does not branch well. Use plant ties to help it start its climb up a vertical surface. You can also use it as a ground cover, much like an ivy or vinca.
This is a perfect plant for a novice gardener since Virginia creeper plant care is minimal and it is a very forgiving vine.
Virginia Creeper Plant Care
Virginia creeper is a carefree plant. It is a deciduous perennial vine with a woody stem. The plant will bloom in June to July with green inconspicuous flowers. They turn into round ball-like fruits, which persist on the vine and add interest. You can cut these off if you have children, as they are highly toxic. Birds will enjoy them if you leave them on the vine.
The plant may need supplemental water during extended periods of drought but can tolerate short periods of dryness.
The vine is remarkably versatile and vigorous. It can stand alone with little external influence but will grow thicker and more lush with annual fertilizer and shearing.
Occasional pruning is a part of Virginia creeper maintenance. When left to its own devices the vine can grow 50 to 90 feet long. Annual trimming will help keep it to a size that is manageable.
How to Prune Virginia Creeper Vine
The plant rarely needs trimming unless it is encroaching upon a pathway or structure. The vine is very forgiving, which means little finesse is needed when pruning Virginia creepers.
Remove any stems that have been broken from the main plant. Choose sharp, clean pruning shears for Virginia creeper maintenance and cut outside the main stem to prevent injury to the plant. Use plant shears to thin it back where it is getting too bushy. You can cut away small stems where they are getting unruly, but wait until early spring for large-scale cutting.
The stems attach with little “feet” that can get into cracks and crevasses. Occasionally these need to be pried away to prevent the vine from growing into areas that could become damaged. Use a flathead screwdriver or other flat implement to scrape the feet off surfaces.
Use a weed trimmer or shears on ground cover vines to keep them fresh. Remove any stems that have signs of fungal or bacterial spot to prevent spread to other parts of the plant.
This North American native plant requires little maintenance and will reward you with easy-care coverage and fall color.