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Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Parthenocissus tricuspidata

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Zones 1-24, 31-41
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Full, Partial, Shade
Regular Water

Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Boston Ivy
Deciduous, Vines, Semi-evergreen


These vines are valued for handsome foliage: green in summer, reliably turning to superb orange or red shades in fall. Blossoms are insignificant; more noticeable are clusters of small blue-black fruits that form in late summer or fall and hang on into winter if not consumed by birds.

Vines typically cling to walls by suction disks at ends of tendrils. All but the fairly restrained Parthenocissus henryana are said to grow to 50–60 ft., but they are really limited only by the size of the support. All thrive in organically enriched soil. Think twice before letting them attach to shingles, clapboard, or mortared brick or stone. At repainting time their clinging tendrils are hard to remove, and vines can creep under siding. They also hasten deterioration of wood and mortar.

When vines reach desired size, prune each dormant season to restrain spread and—for those trained on buildings—to keep them away from doors, windows, and eaves. Cut out any wayward branches; likewise cut out any that have pulled away from their support, since disks will not reattach. Trim as needed during the growing season.

Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Click to Enlarge

Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Native to China, Japan. This vine is semievergreen in mildwinter areas, can grow at least 50 ft.. This species is even more vigorous than Parthenocissus quinquefolia. Foliage color is similar to that of P. quinquefolia in spring and summer, but covers a broader spectrum in fall. Leaves are glossy, to 8 in. wide, variable in shape; usually three lobed or divided into three leaflets.

Autumn color varies from orange to wine red. Clings tightly, grows fast to make a dense, uniform wall cover. This is the “ivy” of the Ivy League; covers brick or stone in areas where English ivy (Hedera helix) freezes. In intensely hot regions, plant only on walls with northern or eastern exposure.

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