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Engelmann Ivy

The "Engelmann Virginia Creeper" is a healthy and strong self-clinging vine that is well known for its autumn colouring. The species originates from North America and is amongst the most popular climbing plants.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia "Engelmannii", American ivy, five-leaved ivy, Virginia Creeper var. "Engelmannii"

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Virginia Creeper "Engelmannii" starting to change colour
Virginia Creeper "Engelmannii" starting to change colour

To Thrive...

Plant in sunny to semi-shady location; will develop more beautiful autumn colours in the sun. Distance between plants: 3 - 6 metres.

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Characteristics and Pruning

This vine climbs with both tendrils (stem tendril climber) and adhesive pads (self climber), has vigorous growth (up to 25 m high) and an annual shoot growth of 1 - 3 metres, often cascading. Has young reddish stems and leaves that are large, strong, smooth, or filigree ("Engelmannii"). Exceptionally healthy foliage, and extremely frost-hardy; foliage from May to October with intense autumn colour! Climbs with short tendrils, at the ends of which adhesive discs form (strong adhesion to any surface). The inconspicuous green-yellow flowers in early summer are followed by blue-black berries on red stems. They are a beloved food for birds, who then leave their bright blue 'droppings.' Summer and winter prune as needed to restrain its vigorous growth (can cause building/structural damage...) The plants are very easily shaped into any form, but the wild variety doesn't adhere well to walls and facades at all and is not particularly suited for building greening.


Note: Often the closely related P. inserta (thicket creeper or 'false virginia creeper'), which does *not* stick to walls, is available under the name of P. quinquefolia. Also, there is a wild species of Parthenocissus quinqefolia (not Engelmannii) which is strong in growth, has coarser and darker foliage, and minimal adhesion capacity.

Climbing Supports for the Facade

Additional support to attach the plant and to prevent collapsing is recommended. In some cases and especially on wind-exposed walls where risk of collapse is higher, wire rope systems (see below) like the basic kit may be required. For very tall walls, a support system like our medium classic kit may be needed. See the table below for compatible systems.


Suitable wire rope systems?

Please click the icon to see the full suitability chart

Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmannii" in flower pots on a building
[Translate to Englisch:] Begrünung mit Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmanni, Kirchruine Wachau / D - 04416 Markkleeberg / Sachsen
Self-climbing Virginia creeper
American Ivy (V.creeper) in autumn

Examples of greening with Engelmannii

Here you can see Virginia creeper in different stages and seasons...

Virginia creeper tends to climb more vertically than its cousin, the 3-lobed Boston ivy, which also spreads horizontally.
Same growth pattern on another building
Because of its vertically-bound growth, this plant can be cultivated in pots, led onto masts, etc..
Gradually, a horizontal expansion takes place.
Virginia creeper after 3-5 years
After 4-8 years...
Courtyard facade greened with 5-lobed Virginia creeper
Five-lobed ivy on a church in Plauen / Saxony
If the plant grows over the eaves, it can interfere with roof drainage, and building damage is possible.
Red autumn leaves of Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmannii"
Autumn leaf-colouring on a church ruin, growth height approx. 20 m Wachau near Leipzig / Saxony

Botanical Features

Here you can see the leaves, aerial rootlets, adhesive pads, fruits, and blossoms of Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and the potential building damage it can cause.

A young "Engelmanii" in winter; here the naturally vertical growth can be seen.
Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmanii"-- the short tendrils have adhesive pads on their tips.
Special Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Saint Paulii" in Potsdam Sanssouci; on the right a new shoot grows from a bud, reddish-brown in colour.
Close-up of the strong aerial rootlets, similar to ivy
The Virginia creeper can develop quite strong adhesive pads and cause building damage.
There are several varieties of Parthenocissus quinqefolia; here one with rather smooth leaves. It can be assumed that the common German name "Virgin Grape" comes from the blue, seemingly un-fertilised, inedible berries.
Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmannii
Start of discoloration in autumn
Beginning of autumn colour. In the upper right area, part of the leaf mat has come loose from the wall because there was no fall protection (ropes).
Climbing aids are therefore recommended as a fall/collapse protection. Here: a historical growth support with horizontal wires to prevent collapse. Town hall Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt.
Autumn leaves of Virginia creeper "Engelmannii"
Annual pruning is strongly advised; a 1 m strip should be kept free from roof edges, etc..
Here a wire rope system as fall-protection; Mesh/grid sizes do not need to be very narrow-- 1.2 m x 1.2 m is enough.
Left: Parthenocissus quinqefolia "Engelmannii", right: the very similar Parthenocissus quinqefolia, Meissen / Saxony, 2010

Wire Rope Systems for Engelmann Ivy

Please click on the graphic illustrations for details!

   = suitable              = of limited suitability              = unsuitable