Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Autumn leaves of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.
Autumn leaves of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.

Once Virginia creeper is well established, it grows quickly. It must often be pruned to prevent it from getting out of control. The species can handle periods of sparse rain fairly well; however, if a drought persists, water the vine every week soaking the soil at least six inches. Virginia creeper can be a rampant grower with a climbing height of over 60 feet and a spread of over 50 feet.  The plant is useful for erosion control.

Virginia creeper is a native, woody, deciduous vine that climbs to a height of 60 feet on trees, poles or other structures, or forms a blanket of foliage up to 12 inches high along the ground.

Virginia creeper is often confused with eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), however a clear distinction between the species is that eastern poison ivy has three leaflets and Virginia creeper has five leaflets.

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.

Common name: Virginia Creeper

Other names: Woodbind, woodbine, false grapes, five leaves, American Ivy, five leaved Ivy, thicket creeper

Scientific name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch.

Family name: Vine Family (Vitaceae)

Autumn leaves of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.
Autumn leaves of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine.

Virginia creeper provides cover for many small birds and mammals. Songbirds are the principle consumers of the fruit, however deer, game birds and small mammals will also feed on them. Cattle and deer will sometimes browse on the foliage.

Wildlife: The berries of this plant are eaten by many animals especially birds. Animals such as mice, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels, cattle and deer will munch on the leaves and stems. This plant provides great cover for small animals because of is thick foliage. The vines provide birds with perches, nesting places and leaf surfaces to find food.

Native range: Virginia creeper is found throughout the southern, midwestern and eastern half of the United States.

It prefers moist, well-drained soils but will grow in drier soils and conditions including coastal dune areas. Virginia creeper is fairly shade tolerant, however it is often found along more open clearing borders, fence rows and stream banks. It is also salt tolerant.

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine climbing a sapling.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vine climbing a sapling.

Height: to 60 feet

Light needed: sun to shade

Hardiness zones: 4 to 9

Bloom period: flowers from June to August, matures fruits from August to October and drops fruits from September to February. Inconspicuous green flowers borne in clusters during the spring are followed by a cluster of ¼-inch bluish black berries.

Bloom color: Deep red foliage in the fall

Growing Tips: Virginia creeper will grow in low fertility and droughty conditions maintenance for this species is minimal.

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