PLANT ARCHIVE | Parthenocissus quinquefolia

If you are looking for an autumnal highlight for your garden, Parthenocissus quinquefolia or Virginia Creeper will deliver. Its leaves are compound palmate leaves made up of five ovate leaflets hence Its name ‘quinque’ meaning five, and ‘folia’ meaning foliage. A deciduous, fast-growing climber, this species puts on a brilliant display in autumn when it erupts in flaming colours of orange, crimson, and red.

In spring it produces tiny green flowers inconspicuously hidden amongst the lush dark green foliage. After flowering, the vine also produces clusters of small deep-blue berries.

Growing conditions

Parthenocissus quinquefolia performs best in full sun but also grows well in semi-shade and prefers well-drained soil, rich in organic matter. Its tendrils have an adhesive quality enabling the vine to grip walls. This makes it an attractive alternative to other vines that can damage buildings with their penetrating rootlets.

Care and maintenance

As long as you want it around, Parthenocissus quinquefolia is easy to maintain. The creeper only needs trimming where it encroaches on an unintended area or becomes heavy. This is easily managed with an annual prune in winter.

Garden design

Parthenocissus quinquefolia can be used as a climber to beautify or hide a structure, as trailing over retaining walls, or as ground cover. It can even be used to moderate the temperature of buildings in the heat of summer. We are mindful of its positioning where children are concerned as the plant can cause skin irritation. Here it is shown growing on an arbour outside of a living room in Wonga Park.