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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Climbers and creepers in Ireland, including wall shrubs

Parthenocissus quinquefolia known as Virginia Creeper


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2142
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:44 pm    Post subject: Parthenocissus quinquefolia known as Virginia Creeper Reply with quote

What is your favourite colour?
Are you a yellow belly, a pink lady or perhaps a blue, blue meanie?
Well, if your favourite colour happens to be red, orange or yellow then autumn is the season for you.
What autumn lacks in flower colour is more than made up for with the fiery leaf shades that many trees and shrubs produce at this time of year.
Personally, I hold autumn as my favourite season due primarily to this glorious leaf colouration.
But rather than look to trees and shrubs to provide me with my first fix of autumn colour, I instead look to a climbing plant.
That climber is the Virginia creeper also known as the five-leaved ivy or to use its correct Latin name, Parthenocissus quinquefolia.


Photo / pic / image of Parthenocissus quinquefolia also known as Virginia creeper or five-leaved ivy .
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A green leaved plant, it spends the spring and summer hovering in the background of its flashier companion plants to suddenly burst onto the stage each autumn.
I should be used to it at this stage, but I am annually amazed by the quick colour transformation of the Virginia creeper.
Its leaf colouration alters from plain Jane green into warm hues of ochre, auburn, deep red and burgundy before leaf fall.
All this happens because of cooling outdoor temperatures working on the sugars within the leaf to expose pigments, which up until now remained hidden.

Virginia creeper can be used as a self-clinging climbing plant on walls that are both plastered or unplastered.
Unlike other climbing plants such as Clematis or honeysuckle, Virginia creeper supports itself by means of small, forked clinging tendrils.
At the ends of these tendrils are strongly adhesive discs, which adhere by sticking to the wall rather than penetrating into it.
Because of this sticking or cementing rather than rooting, it causes no damage to the masonry of walls.
The plant can, however, become a nuisance by climbing into gutters and under roof tiles or slates.
Regular pruning, which is best carried out in spring is required to contain this beast.
When pruning, don't go easy, it is very tolerant of hard pruning and can be cut right back to the base if required for plant rejuvenation.
Left unpruned in the wild, Parthenocissus quinquefolia has been known to reach heights of 20 to 30 metres with new growth of 6 metres long produced in a year.
Thankfully, if planted at the base of an Irish wall it will usually grow to approx 10 metres in height and 5 metres in spread (smaller still with pruning).

Like many climbers of its type, it requires a well-drained but moisture retentive fertile soil.
It is a vine that grows best if planted in semi-shade on an east or west-facing wall.
The moisture retentive soil and semi-shade location help to keep its roots moist when planted at the base of walls, which are usually bone dry.
If you are a lover of fiery colours, you can do a lot worse than include Parthenocissus quinquefolia in your overall garden scheme.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Vitales
Family: Vitaceae
Genus: Parthenocissus
Species: P. quinquefolia

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katiem
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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think i have one of these! or else it is boston ivy, but as i have had it about 5 years, and it is about a foot high, i cant really tell. At the moment, there are bright red fronds beginning to peek from the half dozen or so branches, but it doesnt seem to get any bigger each year. it is on north west facing wall, in a mixture of clay and mushroom compost, so i dont understand what the problem is. Help.
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 12:17 am    Post subject: Virginia creeper or boston ivy Reply with quote

If it's growing you don't have a problem! A northwest wall is not the ideal direction as it only gets sun late afternoon. Wind battering is another possibility if the plant has not yet attached itself firmly to the wall. It's possible for a northwest wall in Belmullet to get hardly any rain on it and the ground below could be permanently parched. Throw a full bucket of water at the plant once a week if you suspect drought. Is your plant sticking to the wall? I started a Virginia in 2004 but disturbed it in 2006. It went into a sulk which it is only just coming out of. During the sulk it blatently refused to stick to the wall despite ongoing encouragement from me. I stopped short of sticky tape but only just. Virginia needs to attach itself to something before it takes off bigtime.

As for positive identification of Virginia v Boston with bits of Greek and Latin:-

Have a look at GPI's picture above and study carefully. Notice the stalks of the individual leaves radiate in fives from their origin stem. (Ok! You can only count four stems but the fifth leaf is the little one). Quinque is Latin for five and that's how Virginia Creeper gets its botanical name. If yours is Boston Ivy, the leaves now budding will burst in threes (trefolia) although later leaves further down the stems will look like three-pointed grape leaves.

The Latin Greek name for Boston ivy is a misnomer. Partheno- means "virgin" (as in virgin birth. These plants form seeds without pollination) and cissus is Latin for "ivy." Virginia creeper is native to Virginia. Boston ivy is from the Far East. Neither plant is an ivy. The species name, tricuspidata, refers to the mature leaves of Boston Ivy. The leaves are not compound but they do have three distinct lobes.

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katiem
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 1:59 pm    Post subject: what is it? Reply with quote

thanks walltoall, will have to wait a bit longer till the leaves appear properly. i know position is not ideal, but it is actually clinging to the wall, well three branches anyway. i also have bog standard ivy on this wall, and this year is the first time i have seen real growth, lots of new leaves, and beginning to make progress. i will just have to have patience i suppose. Rolling Eyes
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we planted one on a north facing wall a few years ago, and it's sulking. it's about three foot tall, and put on barely any growth last year.
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Virginia creeper or boston ivy Reply with quote

There you go Katiem. Ivy (Hedera helix) is very tolerant of shade; in fact my experience with my own is that it prefers it. Virginia/Boston likes some sun and if she is sticking to the northwest wall you are more than half-way there. The fact that your Ivy is starting to thrive shows that growing conditions are ok. Medieval Knieval demonstrates that a north wall is not a best place for the Parthenocissus type climber. If you can bring yourself to do it, cut out every tendril NOT sticking to the wall and the three that are sticking will grow much more robustly. This trick often helps generate new shoots from the base which start climbing straight out of the soil. You'll be fine.

PS: just remembered something from my distant pat. Loose tendrils can be staked down to earth and will grow roots if covered with a sod or even half a brick. The stake point should be about a foot back from the tip. You may then have extra plants for next year? And Sorry Knieval. Staked runners MUST get sun as I recall.

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katiem
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks, i knew somobody smarter than me would have the answers!
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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

walltoall is a mine of information, gems of information that are not in the books but informative and enjoyable. keep it up and i look forward to reading more of your contributions.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)
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