Parthenocissus, Virginia creeper, Boston ivy

A small group of deciduous, woody-stemmed climbers grown mostly for their spectacular autumn foliage in hues of glowing red and bronze. There are species for sunny and sheltered positions.

Suitable site and soil. Grow in any well-drained soil in a semi-shaded or sunny site against a wall or up a tree with rough bark. They will also cover pergolas and fences. When planting, prepare the site by digging out a hole 60cm – 2ft wide by 45cm – l1 – 2ft deep and fill with good soil mixed with compost or manure.

Cultivation and care. Plant out during mild weather in 146 winter. They do not need pruning but large plants can be reduced late in winter.

Propagation. Increase by summer or autumn cuttings or by layers. They can, with some effort, be grown from seed.

Recommended varieties. P. tricuspidata ‘Veitchii’ (Ampe-lopsis veitchii, Boston ivy) is a spectacular plant and covers large areas of wall, growing up to 20m – 66ft. Its leaves are a glorious crimson in autumn and it also produces blue berries. P. quinquefolia (Vitis quinquefolia), Virginia creeper, is similar. P. henryana (Vitis henryana, Chinese Virginia creeper) does best in a shady spot but is less hardy than others. Its leaves are dark green until autumn but then turn light green, red and orange.

Pests and diseases. Prone to aphids and scale insects.

GUTTERS AND TILES

In late winter the creeper can easily block guttering and even grow under slates or tiles on the roof, making leaks a possibility. Clear it from gutters and cut it back from roofs to avoid damage.

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