En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Virginia creeper in trees

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - April 26, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Vines
Title: Virginia creeper in trees
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can Virginia creeper be allowed to climb on trees--specifically Texas ash and live oak--or will it damage them if allowed to attach itself? We are thinking of using it as erosion control in a greenbelt area but don't want the constant battle if it has to be pulled off the trees.

ANSWER:

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) will climb on anything in its general vicinity, but it is not as pervasive or invasive as, say,  Vitis mustangensis (mustang grape). Generally, it won't take over completely like the mustang grape, but it will climb the trees. Virginia creeper's potential for harm to the trees is that it might become so dense that it shades out the leaves of the tree and interferes with the tree's photosynthesis. So, all in all, it might be better to avoid putting Virginia creeper down as a ground cover, or at least be prepared to monitor it and keep it out of the trees.

All in all, grasses are the best solution to erosion control because of the dense fibrous roots that they produce. It sounds as if your area does have at least some shade so here are a few grasses that do well in partial shade that have attractive features.  My guess is that you don't want something that is going to require a lot of mowing and these grasses are bunch grasses that are attractive both in their green growing stage and even after they have matured and "gone to seed". The old growth can be cut back once the new growth begins in the spring.

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Sedges are another possible ground cover that don't require mowing and stay green all year long. Here are three possibilities:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Finally, here are a couple of low-growing herbaceous plants that do well as groundcovers alone or mixed in with the grasses and/or sedges.

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

 

From the Image Gallery


Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

More Vines Questions

How to get rid of Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)
October 02, 2013 - Mr. Smarty-Pants, I have pokeweed growing all over my backyard. I know this plant is poisonous, how do I get rid of it for good? Also, a broad leaf vine that is swallowing my trees whole.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of large hairy vine in Salem, OH
June 19, 2009 - We have large hairy vines that grow up the side of several of the trees on the edge of the woods beside our home. The leaves color resembles that of the poisonous sumac but the leaves shape do not. ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning time for Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus)
February 13, 2006 - Gentlemen: I have a Texas Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus). It's doing very well & I wish to prune it before its leaves come out. I understand there are a few trees you don't prune, among them birch. I...
view the full question and answer

Plants wilting too quickly in Toledo OH
May 27, 2012 - The garden I have had recent issues with plants wilting all too quickly. I would like to know what types of plants would be hearty for the climate in Toledo, Ohio. I have a partly sunny front yard and...
view the full question and answer

California native vine
June 21, 2008 - Hello, I am looking for a california native vine that can "cover" a wrought iron fence. I would like a vine that does not require too much care and can handle a fair amount of sun exposure.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center