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Virginia Creeper

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

Parthenocissus quinquefolia "Engelmannii" (American Ivy, Five Leaved Ivy)

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Virginia Creeper "Engelmannii" starting to change colour

Requirements / Price

Sunny (full sun) to (semi-)shaded location/position, will develop more beautiful autumn colours in the sun. Distance between plants: 3 - 6 metres.

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Characteristics and Pruning

This vine has both tendrils and adhesive pads, vigorous growth, and a yearly shoot growth of 1 - 3 metres, often cascading. Depending on the variety, has young stems are reddish and leaves are large, strong, smooth, or filigree ("Engelmannii"). Often the closely related P. inserta is available under the name of P. quinquefolia, which does not stick to walls. Exceptionally healthy foliage, and extremely frost-hardy. Foliage from May to October. Intense autumn colour! Can cause building/structural damage. The inconspicuous green-yellow flowers in early summer are followed by blue-black berries on decorative red stalks. They are a favourite food for birds, who then leave their bright blue 'droppings.' Summer and winter prune as needed to restrain the vigorous growth habit. The plants are very easily shaped into any form. Partenocissus quinquefolia is also a wild plant, but the wild variety doesn't adhere well to walls and facades at all and is not particularly suited for building greening.

Climbing Plant Support System

Additional support to attach the plant and to prevent collapsing is recommended. However, in some cases and especially on wind-exposed walls, rope systems (see below) as basic support systems to prevent collapsing may be required. For very tall walls, the medium classic wire rope systems may be required.

Appropriate wire rope systems?

Please click the icon to see the full suitability chart

Parthenocissus quinqefolia on the city hall of Quedlinburg / Saxony-Anhalt
Here the plants have already climbed to a height of approx. 25 metres.
Self-climbing Virginia Creeper
American Ivy in autumn

Examples of Greening with Virginia Creeper

Here you can see examples of Virginia Creeper in different stages and seasons.

Virginia Creepers tend to climb more vertically than their cousin- the 3-lobed Boston Ivy- which also spreads horizontally.
Same shaped growth, but on another building
Because of its very 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...
Greened courtyard with 5-lobed Virginia Creeper
After some years, overhanging/cascading growth is possible
Five-lobed ivy on a church in Plauen / Saxony
If the plant conquers the eave, it can interfere with roof drainage, and building damage is possible
Old spinning-factory covered with 5-lobed Virginia Creeper, Leipzig / Saxony
This building is almost completely covered by green 'fur' (5-leaved ivy)
Autumn foliage of the five-lobed Virginia Creeper
Autumn leaf-colouring on a church ruin, Wachau near Leipzig / Saxony
Scarlet autumn leaves on a church
Autumnal "Engelmanii" on an apartment building

Botanical Features

View this gallery for the leaves, aerial rootlets, adhesive pads, fruits, blossoms and possible building damages of Parthenocissus quinquefolia. 

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.
Wild Parthenocissus quinqefolia (not "Engelmanii"): young shoots have longer tendrils, which can wrap themselves easier around twigs, etc..
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.
Adhesive pads of Part. quinqefolia on a clinker brick wall
It can be assumed that the common German name "virgin grape" comes from the blue, apparently not fertilised, inedible berries.
Parthenocissus quinqefolia (not Engelmanii)
Another related variety is Parthenocissus henryana, slow-growing and less frost resistant.
Greening of a wall with Part. quinqefolia
Beginning of leaf colouration of the young Engelmanii vine
Virginia creeper Engelmanii in autumn
Beautiful scarlet leaves in autumn
In the shade the foliage develops a stronger yellow colour
Annual pruning is strongly advised-- a 1 m strip should be kept free from roof edges, etc..
With increasing age and height, foliage mats can fall off the wall from their own weight and/or winds.
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 (see photo above for detail).
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.
Virginia Creeper likes to crawl into cracks and crevices and then come out again somewhere else, thus growing 'negatively phototropic.' This can lead to structural damage, e.g., on facades with open joints as in this photo.

Suitable Wire Rope Systems for Virginia Creeper

Please click on the graphics for details!

 = suitable             = of limited suitability             = unsuitable