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Thicket Creeper

Thicket creeper resembles Virginia creeper as one egg does another, however it is *not* a self-clinging climber, and hence offers new perspectives in facade greening. It hardly ever forms those oft-annoying adhesive pads, and with proper climbing 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
Thicket creeper in summer, slowly changing colours

To Thrive...

Thicket creeper needs a sunny (full sun) to (semi-)shaded 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 the eastern United States, 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, usually form no or few adhesive pads. Only occasionally on dark walls and in 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 red stalks. Readily eaten by birds, followed by the birds' dark-coloured droppings which can stain hanging laundry or terrace decks. 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 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 Supports for the Facade

Compatible with all types of rods, trellises, and cables. For compatible wire rope systems, see the chart below. Easy basic wire rope systems are good; medium systems are optimal; for high greenings > 6 m, heavy or even massive systems are recommended.


Appropriate wire rope systems?

Please click the icon to see the full suitability chart

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

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. 

Greening of a house entrance
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 thicket creeper
Parthenocissus inserta on a wooden trellis
Courtyard greening in a museum garden, Weimar / Thüringen
Facade greening on a metal trellis in Dresden / Saxony
Facade with 2 thicket creepers
Vertically-guided plant
Early phase of a base greening with horizontal ropes
Thicket creeper in late autumn

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

Thicket creeper is also ideal for balconies, pergolas, stair rails, and fences...

Courtyard greening in a museum garden, Weimar / Thüringen
Courtyard greening in a museum garden, Weimar / Thüringen
2 thicket creeper vines planted in the ground spares the need for pots on the balcony.
Balcony greening with thicket creeper
Earth-planted thicket creeper greening a balcony
Vine coming from the ground and led to the balcony
Greening of a pergola with thicket creeper
Thicket creeper can also green hand-rails or, as pictured here, a wrought-iron gate.
Roof-greening vine: front-left is another climbing vine (Parthenocissus tricuspidata- Boston ivy), street cafê in Meißen/Saxony
Thanks to the non-existent adhesive pads of this thicket creeper, only 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

Botanical Features

Enter this gallery to see the leaves, tendrills, fruits, autumn-colouring, phenotype in winter, and budding in spring of the 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 in Potsdam-Sanssouci.
It can be assumed that the common German name "virgin grape" has been derived from the blue, apparently un-fertilised, inedible berries.
'False Virginia Creeper' (Parthenocissus inserta) on a wall, early 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 grapevine (vitis)

Wire Rope Systems for Thicket Creeper

Please click on the graphics for details!

 = suitable             = of limited suitability             = unsuitable