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Thicket Creeper

The Thicket Creeper resembles the Virginia Creeper as one egg does another, however it is NOT a self-clinging climber, and hence offers new perspectives in façade greening. It hardly ever forms those often annoying adhesive pads, and with proper growth supports, damage to buildings is practically impossible.  As a small climbing shrub, it is a native of the eastern parts of North America. Its botanical classification and name are debated, but has been described, among others, by Harri Guenther in "Woody Plants in the Gardens of Sanssouci," ("Gehoelze in den Gaerten von Sanssouci"), which forms the base of the information provided here.

Parthenocissus inserta vitacea - False Virginia Creeper, Grape Woodbine)

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Thicket creeper in summer, slowly changing colours

Requirements / Price

Needs a sunny (full sun) to (semi-)shaded position/location; will develop more beautiful autumn colours in the sun. No particular soil requirements. Distance between plants: 3 - 6 metres.

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Characteristics and Pruning

Native to eastern North America, this vine with tendrils (climbing shrub) has a yearly shoot growth of 1-3 metres. Young shoots are green rather than reddish (compared with related species). Can also overhang/cascade like a bridal train. Tendrils are simply forked, have hardly any adhesive pads. Only occasionally- on dark walls and strong shade- will the tendrils form some adhesive pads (1-2 pads per tendril). Very healthy foliage, appearing May - October.  Has inconspicuous, tiny green-yellow flowers in early summer, then small deep-blue berries on very decorative red stalks. Readily eaten by birds, followed by the birds' dark-coloured 'droppings' which can stain hanging laundry or terrace planks. Summer and winter prune as needed to restrain the vigorous growth (branch formation). The plants are very easily shaped into any form. At times, pruning in late autumn is required to shorten the long shoots, followed by spur pruning as for the "true" grapevines.


Note: In Switzerland, the young vine is regarded as a "neophyte with invasive potential" because it can also spread wild along roadsides and in forests.

Climbing Plant Support System

Compatible with rods, grids, and ropes. For suitable wire rope climbing support systems, see below. Easy basic wire rope systems are good; medium systems are optimal; for high greenings >5 m- heavy or even massive systems are advised.

Appropriate wire rope systems?

Please click the icon to see the full suitability chart

Greening with Parthenocissus inserta
Parthenocissus inserta on a tower, beautiful autumn foliage
Overgrown thicket creeper on an old building
Thicket creeper on espalier grids

Facade Greening with Thicket Creeper

Parthenocissus vitacea/inserta is highly flexible and therefore, with the help of wire rope supports, can be easily trained into various shapes for facade greening. 

Thicket creeper on a high metal trellis
Thicket Creeper trained into an angled shape on a tension wire
Thicket Creeper trained into a T-shape on wire ropes
Small greening with Virginia Creeper
Greening of a house entrance
Parthenocissus inserta on a wooden trellis
Thicket creeper on a wire trellis system, similar to our system 4040
Same plant as shown in previous photo in winter (before pruning)
Small greening with Parthenocissus vitacea in an alley in Kronach / Bavaria
Courtyard greening in a museum garden, Weimar / Thüringen
Facade greening on a metal trellis in Dresden / Saxony
Very old Thicket Creeper in Erfurt / Thüringen
Facade with 2 Thicket Creepers
Vertically-guided plant
Greened archway
Building up the base of a building with horizontal wire ropes
Thicket Creeper in late autumn

Greening other structures, objects, parts of buildings...

Balconies, pergolas, and fences can be greened with thicket creeper... 

This greenery with 2 thicket creepers spares the need to plant on the balcony in pots.
Balcony greening with thicket creeper
Soil-bound greenery of a balcon
Vine coming from the ground and led to the balcony
This lush cascading/overhanging plant creates an arbour beneath the balcony
Greening of a pergola with thicket creeper
Greened fire escape
Detail of previous picture: the plant is attached to the wire ropes on the staircase and led up.
The thicket creeper can also green hand-rails or, as pictures here, a wrought-iron gate.
Roof-greening vine; front-left another climbing vine (Parthenocissus tricuspidata- Boston Ivy), street cafê in Meißen/Saxony
Thanks to the non-existent adhesive pads of this thicket creeper, the projecting roof only and not the entire wall has been overgrown.
Here you can see the trunks of these old vines (same cafê as in previous 2 pictures).
Wall greening with thicket creeper
Overhangnig growth on a rock-face 'wall' in Greiz / Thüringen

Botanical Features

View this gallery for the leaves, tendrills, fruits, autumn-colouring, phenotype in winter, and budding in spring of Parthenocissus vitacea/inserta.

Green spring shoots on the Sanssouci specimen described by H. Guenther
The tendrils in P. inserta are very long with few forks; they often twine around themselves and neighbouring shoots. They are therefore very similar to the true grape-bearing grapevines.
Parthenocissus inserta on a bamboo pole
Lignified tendril
Occasionally, and particularly in heavy shade, even this species can form some adhesive pads; here-- below a stone window sill of the described example of Potsdam-Sanssouci.
It can be assumed that the common German name "virgin grape" has been derived from the blue, apparently not fertilised, inedible berries.
This plant can also quickly develop overhanging growth.
'False Virginia Creeper' (Parthenocissus inserta) on a wall, beginning of autumn colouring
Autumn foliage of Grape Woodbine on a wrought-iron railing
The intense leaf colour can last for several weeks during mild weather.
Parthenocissus vitacea in winter on a wooden trellis before pruning
Spur-pruning in winter, similar to the pruning for real grapevine (vitis)

Suitable wire rope systems for thicket creeper

Please click on the graphics for details!

 = suitable             = of limited suitability             = unsuitable