How to Grow Virginia Creeper (Beginner’s Care Sheet)

Virginia creeper is one of the most versatile perennial vine plants in existence.

But sadly, it’s greatly misunderstood. It’s even considered a weed!

While it’s easy to grow and requires almost zero care other than pruning, it can overwhelm your garden.

Once you get into the groove of caring for your creeper plant, you’ll enjoy the multitude of benefits it offers, including privacy, plant cover, plus the ability to climb nearly anything.

Let’s learn about how to grow and care for Virginia creeper!

Quick care guide: Virginia creeper

Plant typePerennial vine
OriginEastern US, Central US, Mexico
Scientific nameParthenocissus quinquefolia
Other namesFive fingered ivy, Victoria creeper, Boston Ivy, five finger, or woodbine
Soil typeFertile, loamy, sandy, well-draining
Soil pH5.0-7.1 (acidic to center neutral)
Sunlight requirementFull sun, at least 6-8 hours per day.
Partial shade is OK, but not optimal.
Bloom seasonEarly spring to summer
ColorsOrange, yellow, pink, green, red
Max height50 feet
Max width50 feet
Low temperature tolerance-10F
High temperature tolerance100F
Ideal temperature range70-80F
HumidityLow (25% or lower)
Watering requirements0.50 to 1 inch of water per week
Fertilizer requirementsOptional. Or use minimal dosage in spring/summer.
Plant food NPK5-10-10 or 10-10-10
Days until germination21-30 days
Days until harvestNot harvestable
Bloom time180-240 days after planting (May, June, July)
Speed of growthFast
Hardiness zonesUSDA hardiness zones 3-10
Plant depth0.25-0.50 inches for seeds, as deep as 1/3 of stem for cuttings
Plant spacing10 feet
Plant withKudzu
Ivy
Don't plant withOther plants that are nearby, similar plants
Propagation methodFrom seed, hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings, pre-grown from nursery
Common pestsBeetles, scale, leafhoppers, caterpillars, whiteflies, spider mites, worms, sap suckers, aphids
Common diseasesDowney mildew, powdery mildew, leaf spot
Indoor plantNo
Outdoor plantYes
Grown in containerYes
Flowering plantYes
Beginner friendlyYes
Care levelLow (very easy for beginners)
Best usesBordering, pathing, lattices, decor, hedges, backdrops, drought-tolerant gardens, xeriscapes, wildlife gardens, birds/bee/wildlife attractant, soil erosion control, trellises, fencing, plant coverage, shed cover

What’s a Virginia creeper?

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) has a scary name, but it’s only called that because of its “creeping” nature.

In other words, it likes to hang close to the surface and then slowly grow its way up.

This is a native vine that belongs to the grape family. Though it doesn’t produce grape, it does share similarities. It does produce berries that are poisonous.

This vine is also known as the five fingered ivy, Victoria creeper, Boston Ivy, five finger, or woodbine. It comes from of Mexico and the eastern/central United States.

It’s excellent for providing plant cover for surfaces like walls, fences, or voids where some green cover would be nice.

The leaves are numerous and they change over time to different colors depending on the season.

Poison warning

Virginia creeper produces berry fruits that are deep blue in color. These berries bring in birds to help consume the fruit and then deposit the seed elsewhere.

Don’t eat these berries or even touch them!

While they may look like small blueberries, they’re extremely dangerous to people and pets.

Do NOT handle Virginia creepers without proper protection. The plant leaves, stems, and berries have oxalate crystals that are extremely poisonous.

Virginia creeper sap can also irritate the skin and break it. Blisters are very common from sap contact.

NEVER contact any part of the plant without gardening gloves, long-sleeved clothing, proper footwear, and other PPE.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t grow Virginia creeper.

Keep the plant out of reach from pets, people, and other wildlife. Most native wild birds can eat the berries, but that’s it.

What does it look like?

Boston Ivy vs. regular ivy.
This is regular Ivy. Virginia creeper looks very much the same.

P. quinquefolia has lime green leaves that are compound with 5 lobes sticking out in each direction.

The 5 leaves are green, serrated, and can range from light to dark green, purple, yellow, or even red. They’re very nice when paired with a contrasting plant.

The vines are dark green to brown and they’re leggy and thin. The stems will wrap around random objects- whatever they can grab onto. Even other plants.

The stems have tendrils on them that allow them to attach to fences, walls, pillars, plants, or even your house.

Why? Because the stems are armed with these small disks that let them “suck” onto things.

Surfaces that aren’t solid will suffer from Virginia creepers because they deposit a sticky substance that gets into the porous surface and gives them a real firm grape.

Solid objects are easier to remove the stems. They can creep on both walls or soils as they can go in any direction.

It blooms with grape-like buds that give rise to white flowers in the spring to summer.

Following that, small green berries will appear. They turn dark blue over time which brings in wild birds. They look like mini blueberries.

You’ve probably heard of 3 fingers ivy (3 leaves ivy), which is also poisonous. The five leaves of P. quinquefolia look very similar to it.

Sometimes, Virginia creeper only sprouts 3 leaves. This can lead to confusion between the two plants.

Is it perennial or annual?

Virginia creeper is a perennial native vine plant. It will go through its shades of colors throughout the season and then winterize itself when grown in the right hardiness zones.

It enters dormancy and then will resume growing next spring. This plant is a very quick grower. If you like vine plants, Virginia creeper will do the job.

It will take over your entire garden if you don’t prune it regularly by controlling where it can go.

If grown outside of its hardiness zone, it may grow as an annual. But that’s kinda pointless because it won’t have much to show in one season.

So either plant it in the right zone, or offer some protection like mulch for the winter if you’re in a slightly lower zone.

Is it easy to grow?

Yes, VC is extremely easy to grow.

Once it becomes hardy to cold weather, drought, and poor soil conditions, it can take care of itself.

These plants are considered to be invasive in some regions, so check with your local authority to ensure you can plant them.

But that gives you a look into how easy they are to care for. They do well with poor soil, minimal watering, drought hardy, need no winterizing, and don’t even need plant food!

How to propagate Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper can be propagated through seeds or cuttings. If you don’t have the patience to wait for the seeds to propagate or go through the process of preparing cuttings, you can often find this plant at specialty nurseries or garden centers.

It’s pretty common on the east coast.

Regardless of which propagation method you choose, be sure to exercise caution so you don’t contact or ingest it (it’s poisonous!).

From seed

Starting from seed isn’t easy. It does take some effort because Virginia creeper seeds will need some cold exposure in order to germinate.

But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s the most rewarding once you successfully do it

Don’t use those seed starter kits. While they’re handy for most applications, Virginia creeper isn’t an option.

The seeds won’t take kindly to being moved around after you plant them.

So when you choose somewhere in your garden, consider it permanent. They’re fragile and they have a very low germination rate by nature. If you move them upon germination, you can kill the seedlings.

You can either cold stratify the seeds by putting them out in the cold (if your zone gets cold enough) or you can do artificial stratification by putting them in the fridge.

Assuming you’re planting in the right hardiness zone, you can sow directly in the soil outside in the fall for seedlings in the spring.

If your zone isn’t cold enough, then artificial stratification will be necessary.

Here’s how:

Wait until 8-10 weeks before the last frost date in the spring to prepare. Put the seeds in a zipper bag with some potting mix. Put the bag in the fridge (not in a drawer). Let them sit for 8-10 weeks. Then remove.

Get a coarse object so you can roughen them up a bit. The goal is to scratch the seeds so they’re randomly filed down. Put them into the water and let them sit overnight.

Here’s a good site that shows you how to cold stratify in complete detail.

After you’re done, go ahead and show them in your garden.

Seeds will germinate in a full sun location. Sow each seed 0.25 inches deep. Water thoroughly for the first time, but don’t overwater.

Show about 10 per square foot, but not more than that. Deep water once per week until it sprouts.

Thin the stems to the hardiest stems in the first few weeks or so when the first pair of true leaves show up. Sow into soil that’s been amended with peat moss.

From cuttings

When it comes to propagating Virginia creeper by cuttings, you have two choices. You can use hard or soft cuttings.

Both of them are good choices, but it really depends on what type you have, where you’re located, and when you’re planting. Raed on to learn more.

Hard cuttings

Propagating by hard cuttings should be done in the latter part of the season (fall to spring).

When the plant is dormant and has dropped all its leaves, find a nice thick stem to cut.

It should be at least 12 inches long. Check for leaf nodes so you know where to cut.

Sterilize some pruners then cut it right beneath a leaf node.

Prepare a container with some potting mix. Fill with a high-quality mix at least 5 inches tall.

Dip the stem into some rooting powder. Place it into the potting mix 3 inches deep.

Then water generously.

The container should drain immediately. Consider using pots that are biodegradable. This means no stress later on when you put it into your garden.

No plant shock means a higher chance of rooting success. The stem should be firmly patted in place.

Be prepared to use a bigger pot if you started with a smaller one. When the cutting establishes a good root system, it’s ready to be planted outside! This will take about 3-4 weeks on average.

Put the pot in full sun. Water to keep the soil moist, but never over water. Plant outside when there are no more signs of frost.

Place the rim of the point right on the garden soil line. If you’re using biodegradable pots, then you can just put them right into the dirt! If not, you’ll need to gently uproot it first.

Then plant it so it aligns with the soil line. Be careful! They don’t like being moved around. This can hurt the root system so make sure you’re gentle.

Soft cuttings

If you have existing creeper vines, you can take cuttings from them to grow more.

The ideal time to take cuttings is in the spring when they’re actively growing. Look for a long stem with a fully grown, five fingered leaf. It should be firm and green.

If it’s at least 12 inches in length, it’s a good candidate for cuttings. Younger stems won’t take root as easily, so you should avoid cutting them.

Remember to use protection. You can’t touch the Virginia creeper without it. This plant is poisonous, especially the sap that you may encounter when cutting the stem!

Sterilize your favorite pair of pruners using rubbing alcohol. Cut cleanly right beneath a leaf node. There should be multiple leaf nodes on the stem, so it should be easy to find one.

Remove leaves from the bottom ⅓ of the stem, so only the top ⅔ contains leaves. This is important because you can’t get water or soil on the leaves or else you may introduce rot.

Get a clear vase or jar and then fill it with 3-4 inches of distilled water. Place the stem into the jar (the side with no leaves). It should sit without moving in place.

Use twine to secure it if needed. Put this jar somewhere out of reach in a filtered sunlight location. The water should be monitored for fungus or mold. But algae is OK.

Change the water every other day. Watch for the white/brown roots to develop from the base. Using a clear glass container is easiest since you can see through it without disturbing the plant.

When the roots come out, move your VC into your garden. Choose a good spot. You only get one chance with Virginia creeper since it doesn’t like to be moved once planted.

Place the stem 3 inches deep sot the roots are completely covered. Dig a hole that’s wide enough to accommodate the roots without crushing them.

If you want to use rooting powder or gel, use it now. Some good products that are highly popular are Bonide Bontone II (Amazon) and Garden Safe TakeRoot (Amazon).

Congrats. You now know how to propagate Virginia creeper using the two most popular methods. Of course, we’re leaving one out…

From the nursery

If you wanna skip the germination or the work from propagating cuttings, then simply buying Virginia creeper from the nursery works.

Look for a healthy plant:

  • Choose one that has no pest damage (holes, jagged edges, visible eggs, etc.)
  • Look for signs of mold or fungus on the leaves or stems
  • It shouldn’t be drooping or dropping leaves
  • Leaves should be dark/solid in colors
  • Vine stems should be thick, firm, and even

Ask the rep for info on how to care for the creeper. If they’re well versed in plants, you should get plenty of good advice for that specific cultivar!

You may wanna ask about their return policy too if you get a dud. Harden the plant off by taking it out and exposing it to the sun daily for a week.

Take your VC out a few hours each day, then bring it back into the partial sun.

When it’s acclimated, plant it at the same depth as the original container.

Use a well-draining potting mix. Watch for signs of mold or fungus. If everything is Gucci, then you’re set. It should take root quickly and then start vining out for you.

How to grow Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper leaves.
These are some pretty gorgeous Virginia creeper leaves in the fall.

This section covers the basic guidelines for P. quinquefolia care.

You’ll discover that a lot of the TLC is autonomous, meaning that VC will care for itself.

Note that your specific plant care needs can vary depending on the local conditions of your zone, plant type, etc.

Hardiness zones

Virginia creeper grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3-10. It’s well adaptable to zones outside of this range as well.

If you’re in a warmer or cooler zone, it can likely tolerate it. This plant is essentially bulletproof.

This is why it can be found all over the world doing its thing. It can grow nearly everywhere because of its resiliency.

Soil

Virginia creeper can thrive in all sorts of soils.

Whether the soil is rich in nutrients, poor, dry, wet, loamy, sandy, clay, or combined soils, this vine plant will do just fine. It’s one of those plants that does well even in poor quality soil.

If you want to optimize its growth, use a nice, earthy soil mix. It should be well-draining and has some degree of nutrients in it to help it grow properly.

Bad quality soil is one thing. But poor draining soils are another. It can tolerate bad soil, but not soil that doesn’t drain.

While it can tolerate a range of soils, make sure the soil is somewhat crumbly in consistency. This helps the roots develop rather than struggle in compact soils. The other thing to keep in mind is that it must drain well. It’ll tolerate a wide range of soil alkalinities/acidities.

Soil pH

Offer slightly acidic to neutral soil.

While the soil’s pH value won’t kill your creeper, it can help optimize the growth and production of berries.

You can make your soil more acidic if it’s too basic by using some natural soil amendments like lime. Aim for a pH range of 5.0-7.1. Use pH strips to test the soil for accuracy.

Spacing

Place each VC about 10 feet apart. If planted in cramped conditions, they’ll compete for the nutrients in the soil. This can make them both grow smaller compared to being provided enough space.

If growing from seed, you can grow them together- even inches apart in pots. Thin to the strongest plant when 4-5 inches tall.

Temperature

Virginia creeper is tolerant of temperature swings.

It’s not bothered by dips in temp nor highs on a hot summer day- as long as they’re not for extended periods of time.

Unlike some other plants that’ll melt in the heat (clematis), the Virginia creeper does otherwise.

Ideally, the temperature range for this perennial vine should be between 60-90F. It’s a wide range because it can adapt to a wide variety of climates- ranging from Hawaii to Florida.

Virginia creeper has been shown to tolerate temperatures as low as -10F, or even -35F in Canada.

It can also handle hot temps over 100F without issue, as it’s drought tolerant. If you’re growing in the right zone, you don’t need to worry about temperature.

Humidity

Humidity is nothing to worry about. Just water 1” per week in the first year, then 1” every other week.

If it’s raining, you can skip watering entirely. The rain will provide more than enough humidity necessary.

As long as your plant is well pruned with no water pooling, you should be fine. Pooling is due to poorly draining soil or clumps in the dirt. Poor soil conditions won’t hurt Virginia creeper, but once it can’t drain well, it will.

The plant is indigenous to the eastern US and can grow even in extremely dry conditions (drought tolerant).

Watering

Water about 1-2 inches of water per week in the first season.

Following that, the creeper vine becomes established. So it needs less water per week. You can reduce it to 1 inch every other week or so, depending on your local climate. Account for periods of drought, where it may need more water.

During periods of rain, you can reduce the watering regimen. A single rainfall can supply enough water for a month. Virginia creeper is hardy to drought, so you don’t need to worry about underwatering.

It’s always overwatering, which may lead to root rot, fungus, or other issues stemming from too much water in the soil. Water around the plant’s base, but never directly at the leaves. If you notice spots where water is pooling, you’ll need to get rid of it.

Till the soil or swap it out for something else.

Sunlight

Choose a full sun location with at least 5 hours of daily sunlight.

Virginia creeper will tolerate both full sun or partial shade locations, but the brighter the light is, the more colorful the leaves will be. Especially when fall rolls around. Shady gardens will do fine for this plant- it really isn’t picky.

It’s just up to you- do you want to bring that amazing color? Or do you just want some plant coverage?

Whatever you want, this guy can do it! Full sun locations provide optimal fall color.

Even though it’s tolerant of various degrees of shade, it’ll show its best color if given full sun specifically. Plant it on a wall for double the wow when you see those berries come out.

Fertilizer

Plant food is optional. Virginia creeper does exceptionally well without any additional fertilizer, so you don’t need to worry about this. The plant will easily adapt to your local conditions.

If you must supplement with fertilizer, use balanced plant food with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10. Use granular fertilizer on the soil to keep it vigorous throughout the springtime. Feed it once or twice per season. Use as instructed. General-purpose plant food works well.

Nitrogen will help encourage more foliage, but fewer blooms, so you can kind of change the ratio to suit your needs. More flowers? Use less N. More leaves? Use more N.

Plant supports

Virginia creeper is a self-climbing vine. It doesn’t need you to wrap or twine it onto objects for it to cling.

Once it grabs onto something, it can wrap its leaf veins around it without help. This can be good or bad:

If you want to control where it grows, you’ll need to monitor it so you can prune or redirect the vines as needed.

When the plant grows, you can control where it goes with regular plant supports, wooden stakes, cages, or just garden twine. Tie it around an object to direct its growth.

Over time, the stems/vines will get thicker and heavier.

So don’t use fragile or lightweight objects.

Some ideal plant supports for Virginia creeper include:

  • Walls
  • Sidings
  • Fences
  • Trellises
  • Lattices
  • Poles
  • Archways
  • Pillars
  • Cages
  • Stakes
  • Pathing
  • Other plants
  • Specimen trees
  • Pergolas
  • Garden arbors
  • Or just let it be ground cover

If you don’t care or provide a trellis, lattice, fence, or some other object for it to climb, it’ll do it by itself without extra help. No plant ties are necessary! It’s a climbing vine that’ll just sprawl across your garden’s dirt if you don’t let it climb on something.

It can grow upwards of 50 feet per plant. Some people even use it as erosion control on hillsides or ranches/farms. This makes it cheap and effective fodder to prevent erosion.

Note that this plant will grow like crazy once it settles in. While it requires minimal care to get it going, maintaining it can be time-consuming. The main stems will become heavier over time and then woody. You may be spending quite some time in the garden if you don’t regularly trim it back.

The base of the plant will become tough and hard, which makes relocating it a default task.

Whatever you let it grow on, assume it’s permanent. This is a low maintenance landscaping plant with stick disk-like appendages on its tendrils.

Once it grips, it’s hard to get off. The plant suckers will penetrate cracks and stick themselves onto surfaces.

They can even peel paint from sensitive textures which can cause permanent damage to materials like wood, stone, ceramics, or masonry. Direct contact with the vines should be avoided if possible. Let them grow on something dedicated just for the vines like an armature so the plant doesn’t ruin the finish.

If you care about your house, don’t let it touch the walls. It’ll leave behind dabs of color and peel the paint off the walls.

Pruning

For parts that have dense foliage, you’ll want to prune it regularly to encourage good water evaporation. If it gets pooled or the water can’t evaporate, it can lead to root rot.

Regularly pruning (be sure to wear your protective garden gear), can help trim the plant back so it looks tidier and keeps it out of places you don’t want it to be growing into.

It also helps increase the airflow so the water can evaporate. Virginia creeper is easily trimmed into whatever shape or form you want it to be. If you wanna keep it neat and tidy on a stake or trellis, then just cut the excess with sharp, clean pruners regularly.

You really have a lot of options to prune this vine to your favor. Don’t be afraid to cut it back.

It helps keep it free of pests and pathogens, and looks great! If your garden has lots of other plants nearby, it may be wise to keep it maintained so it doesn’t grab them and then choke them.

It’ll latch onto whatever is nearby, so keep that in mind. Some surfaces may be damaged by the goop it seeps out if you don’t keep it pruned. It’s pretty difficult to remove from porous objects once it climbs on them.

So if you have sensitive paints or expensive objects, be sure to watch out and keep them pruned!

If you notice damaged leaves, stems, or other issues from pests, remove them immediately. Cut it back right above a leaf node to help encourage new growth.

Virginia creeper is very hardy towards pests, so don’t be afraid to cut it back to remove damaged parts.

The ideal time to cut back Virginia creeper vines is in the winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. Keep it under a strict pruning schedule if you want it to look neat. It can threaten to overtake your garden, especially when it starts wrapping on other plants, gutters, or porous surfaces.

Lastly, prune off spent flowers, yellowing or browning leaves, and other ugly parts. If it’s ugly, just take it off! No need to worry with Virginia creeper.

Toss the infested or dirty parts into the trash. Remove vines that have been detached. They can’t reattach so they should be trimmed.

Harvesting

This is a non-harvestable plant in terms of edible fruits.

The berries that VC produces are only good for natural pollinators to come and then pick at them. They’ll deposit the seeds elsewhere.

You shouldn’t collect the seeds because they’re highly toxic and not worth the risk. While the seeds can be saved for next season, it’s safer to just buy another packet or propagate through cuttings.

This is much easier than starting from seed and will get you a head start.

Virginia creeper seeds have a low germination rate by default, so why make it difficult on yourself?

Overwintering

This plant needs no special overwintering care if you’re in zones 3-10.

It can tolerate temperature dips below 0F, so yeah, it’s quite hardy.

If you’re growing it outside of these zones, you can supplement some mulch around the root system to help insulate it from the cold. Otherwise, no special care is needed for Virginia creeper.

Cut back the spent flowers and leaves before the winter. This will help reduce the possibility of pests or pathogens. It’s a very hardy perennial that should have zero issues with the winter.

The foliage will die back on its own but it’ll come back vibrant later on. So don’t worry about how your VC turns brown and drops its leaves. It’s just going dormant for a bit.

Companion plants

Purple clematis vs Virginia creeper.
Clematis is another vine plant, but not nearly as hardy as Virginia creeper.

Virginia creeper clings to everything, so you’ll need something that it can’t climb on and then choke. For most setups, you should avoid planting it with other plants and just let it grow on its own.

It’ll snake around plants and then stunt their growth, which is why they should be grown in isolation unless you’re going to be prudent about pruning.

You could try pairing Virginia creeper with Helianthus, which can grow up to 7 feet tall. Another option is Digitalis, which can tolerate some of the VC’s damage.

Otherwise, just let your creeper creep on its own. Fences, trellises, or your outdoor shed.

Some other choices to pair with Virginia creeper include:

  • Poison ivy
  • Kudzu

Don’t plant with

This plant shouldn’t be planted with most other plants because it’ll get entangled.

You should avoid planting with other garden plants, even with other Virginia creepers. This plant will need plenty of space to grow. Consider removing most of your creeper if you want to grow other plants.

Growing indoors

Virginia creeper shouldn’t be grown indoors. Not saying you can’t, but it’s not practical.

Do you have 25-50 feet of space for it to grow?

While it’ll likely adapt to shady conditions indoors and grow in your house, it’s going to crawl on your furniture, pillars, and more. The only time it should be indoors is during germination.

Growing in containers

This plant can be grown in containers, but it won’t be as lush and colorful as you hope for it to be.

However, the benefit of growing Virginia creeper in containers is that you can move it around accordingly.

For instance, put it in full sun then move it to partial if needed to optimize its production. But on the other hand, once it starts to become established by climbing on random objects in its vicinity, you can’t do much moving afterward.

It’ll be hard to clip off all the suckers that have pierced into porous objects. So you should assume that even if you’re growing in a container you won’t be moving it around much.

When choosing a container, use one that’s at least wide enough to support the plant’s roots, or else it’ll stunt itself.

The container should have multiple drainage holes with loose soil that won’t compact. Remember that this plant can grow up to 50 feet in any direction, so your container won’t be able to hold the stems.

It should be at least 18 inches wide and the same depth to give you a good size to work with. Choose something that’s made of plastic or metal so the tendrils don’t stick to it.

Use a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the container so it doesn’t clump.

Place it on a plant roller because these suckers get heavy once watered.

VC grown in pots won’t have the same colorful leaves.

They also won’t be as resilient to temperature changes and won’t have abundant growth as soil-sown ones. The roots will be susceptible to harm from sudden temperature swings as well, especially if the material isn’t good at holding heat or if your container is small.

This vine plant should be put where it has room to grow. Use a larger container. You also need to water it much more often because container-grown plants dry out quicker.

Growing Virginia creeper in pots is cool because you can shape it with plant supports.

It also makes it neater and tidier to keep it trimmed back. You can use the rim of the container as its territory to keep it looking good!

Pests

P. quinquefolia is hardy to everything, pests included. But there are some bugs that just can’t keep their mouthparts off those large, gorgeous five fingered ivy leaves on VC.

Because of that, you may come across the following insects in your garden:

  • Beetles are a known pest of Virginia creeper. They focus on the tender, young foliage that’s easy to chew on so they can digest it without issue. Beetles can be remedied by manually removing them (with PPE), soapy water, sticky traps, or diatomaceous earth.
  • Scale are a white fuzz that can stick to the stems or leaves of VC. They can be difficult to remove due to their white webbing they form. Soapy water (1 tablespoon dish soap to 1 cup of water) can be effective in peeling them off. Other hobbyists have reported that spraying rubbing alcohol can also kill the scale.
  • Prune off infested parts of your VC that have visible scale.
  • Leafhoppers may show up on the leaf surfaces. These guys extract plant sap from the leaves and will cause them to wilt or drop. They can be controlled in the same manner as any other surface pest. Their damage causes the leaves to turn brown or yellow over time. They’re also confused with aphids because of their shape.
  • Caterpillars love to chew on VC. These guys eat the foliage overnight so when you wake up, you wonder what happened to all your leaves! They eat in groups and can be extremely dangerous to younger plants. Thankfully, there are a bunch of different products on the market you can buy to eliminate them. Look for something that’s organic or natural. Use as directed. Insecticidal soap can be effective for caterpillars.
  • Other common Virginia creeper pests include aphids, mites, spider mites, and whiteflies. Some wildlife may also munch on the leaves, but are generally harmless.

You may find squirrels, cattle, deer, mice, skunks, or birds hovering nearby.

Diseases

Virginia creeper is vulnerable to some pathogens, but the most common is leaf spot, powdery mildew, or other fungal issues.

These can be controlled by limiting your watering, pruning, and using a fungicide to kill the viruses. Space your plants accordingly and cut them back to prevent the foliage from getting too dense.

Usage scenarios

Virginia creeper is commonly used for plant cover, whether it’s clinging to fences or as a privacy hedge.

If you let it go wild, it can damage surfaces and even peel paint off with its suckers.

This vine plant is good for bringing in wildlife or covering up areas of your garden that are bare or void. The lush green foliage can easily cover up ugly fences or buildings. Trellises or lattices can also help keep it tidy.

The abundance of leaves can bring in wildlife as well if you want to make your garden look wilder. It can be used for soil erosion on hillsides too. Virginia creeper can grow in a vast set of environments from woodlands to lakesides.

It’s really one of the most versatile perennial vine plants in existence. Easy to grow, super hardy, and cheap to care for. Just keep it tidy, and clean, and give it some water. That’s about all the care you need for established VCs.

Types of Virginia creeper

There are many cultivars in the community, but here are the popular ones:

  • Variegata (yellow and white leaves in the spring, pink leaves in the fall, variegated, compact, good for smaller gardens, less vigorous, yellow/white variegation, changes to pink in the fall, big leaves)
  • Troki (nice red fall color, good for leaf cover, will easily grab onto buildings)
  • Yellow Wall (gold color, good for walls or fences, can be paired with Troki for complementary colors)
  • Monham (green leaves with smaller size, white speckles, changes to pink in fall)
  • Engelman (small leaves, compact size, easily clings to buildings, bronze color streaks in the fall, less vigorous)

You may find other imported varieties on the market. They generally have increased resistance to pests. VC can be purchased from your local garden center, nursery, or online if you have none nearby. It’s not hard to find in native zones.

Commonly asked questions about Virginia creeper care

This section includes some questions we get from readers regarding VC care.

You may find your unanswered questions answered here. If not, please use the form at the end of this page to post your questions.

When should I cut back Virginia creeper?

Cut back Virginia creeper in the winter to help prevent pests from eating up the leaves as they drop off. Spent flowers should be cut back as well as damaged or ugly foliage.

Is Virginia creeper destructive?

Yes, VC can easily choke other plants nearby if you let it. This is why it needs to be kept under tabs and pruned regularly. In some areas, it’s considered to be invasive. So be careful where you plant it.

Is it tolerant to drought?

Yes, once established, it can tolerate periods of little to no water. This can allow it to flourish even when there’s no rain. Warmer zones should have no issue up to zone 10.

Further reading/references

These handy resources may be useful for you:

Don’t get creeped out by Virginia creepers!

Virginia creeper orange.
Virginia creeper is its prime.

Virginia creeper is an excellent low maintenance perennial vine perfect for those that don’t have all day to take care of their plants.

It basically grows itself once you get it going. It doesn’t care about the soil type, soil pH, or even whether you have partial shade or full sun. It can even grow in drought and tolerate temperature dips to below zero. This vine plant is resilient, colorful, grows quickly, and it doesn’t ask for much in return.

Get some VC going in your garden to get that changing seasonal color and perfect ground cover with its dense leaves, lengthy stems, and nice fall tones.

What do you think? Do you have any questions about how to care for Virginia creepers? Post them in the comments form below and let me know!

If you’ve had experience with VC before, share some tips/suggestions with other readers to help ‘em out!

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