Versatile vines apply their multitasking abilities to a host of garden conditions. They add type, texture and colour to fences, walls or trellises. Allowed to spread across the ground, they provide erosion control. Among these bold plants are a group of closely related vines that pair red-hued fall leaves and blue grapes. Taking center stage in the late-season garden, these vibrant vines feed hungry wildlife and birds with their fruit.
Suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, Boston ivy rises from 30- to 50-feet long, using a 5- to 10-foot spread. Like other members of this Parthenocissus genus, it clings to its settings with adhesive pads at the ends of its tendrils. These let the vines climb wood, stone or brick surfaces easily. The three- to seven-pointed leaves of Boston ivy “Lowii”(Parthenocissus tricuspidata “Lowii”) transition from shiny green in summer and spring to crimson-red shades shortly following its red-stemmed, blue grapes appear in early fall. The “Green Showers” cultivar (P. triciuspidata “Green Showers”) deposits ice-blue berries and burgundy-red fall foliage. Autumn turns the green leaves of “Vetchii” (P. tricuspidata “Vetchii”) into bright reddish-purple.
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) rises rapidly to a adult, 30- to 50-foot height. Its compound, 6-inch leaves, typically with five leaflets, change from purple in early spring to delicate green in summer. The vine peaks ornamentally using the fall arrival of its red foliage and dark-blue berries. Engelman’s Virginia creeper (P. Quinquefolia var. Engelmanii) includes smaller leaves and bronze-red fall color. The green leaves of this 30-foot “Red Wall” cultivar (Parthenocissus quinquefolia “Troki” P.P.A.F.) become fiery-red before dropping. Species Virginia creepers develop across USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. “Red Wall” is cold-hardy in zones 3 through 8.
Silvervein creeper (Parthenocissus henryana) outdoes its bigger relatives with three seasons of attention-grabbing foliage. Silver-white veins adorn its red spring foliage. The burgundy-backed, three- to five-leaflet leaves soften to purple-tinted green in summer before deepening to red again in fall, once the vine’s berries ripen to blue-black. Climbing around 35 feet, silvervein creeper grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.
Even though they grow in full shade, Boston ivy and Virginia creeper vines make the heaviest foliage and spread most rapidly in sunlight to partial shade. Plants in full sunlight develop the most vibrant autumn colours. Silvervein creeper, on the other hand, loses its white veins in full sunlight. For optimum foliage variegation, it needs light or filtered shade. All 3 salt-tolerant vines bear any well-drained dirt, including clay or mud, and require routine water during hot or dry weather. Pruning in early or midsummer controls their growth.
Parthenocissus vines enthusiastically climb over or up anything in their path. Once established, they may be rather difficult to remove from construction walls. Their tendrils frequently work beneath and lift shingles and siding or leave sticky deposits difficult to remove repainting.