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Mr. Smarty Plants - Control of out-of-bounds Virginia creeper

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Sunday - September 16, 2007

From: Uncasville, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pruning, Vines
Title: Control of out-of-bounds Virginia creeper
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our Virginia creeper (Woodbine) has outgrown its planned location this past summer. What is the best way to prune ivy stems for next years controlled growth?

ANSWER:

We're not sure that "controlled growth" is an appropriate or even achievable goal for the culture of Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper). Here in Texas, it is pulled up and vilified by a lot of people finding it in their gardens. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we enthusiastically support the use and propagation of native plants in the landscape, but maybe we're not equally supportive of every native plant. This University of Connecticut horticulture website can tell you a little bit more about it on your home turf. Two things you should note about using it in your landscape are, first, the berries are highly toxic and may be fatal if eaten. The birds like them, and don't seem to die, but people shouldn't try it. The second thing is, even in Connecticut, Virginia creeper is considered invasive. With its sucker-like stem ends allowing it to climb up trees, shrubs and structures (and people, if you don't move around fast enough) it is very hard to keep in a designated space. Constant vigilance is the best bet, and don't let it get started up any plant or structure you don't want it in. Those suckers really hang on, and can leave marks on walls or fences if you do manage to pull the vine off.


Parthenocissus quinquefolia

 

 

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