Growing Boston Ivy Successfully With Suggested Varieties

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)is a rapid growing vine that attaches itself to surfaces by twining and small tendrils.

These tendrils can hold against any rough surface such as brick or unpainted wood.

The young tendrils also have adhesive disks for further support.


A cautionary note has to be put at the front of any article about this vine because as it grows, these small tendrils are extremely invasive.

They will find themselves in any available crack in the wall. Once finding a crack (around windows or at the joint of eaves) they will insert a tendril to attach themselves to this crack. The tendril will in a relatively short time thicken and firmly seat itself. This thickening over time can expand cracks in mortar as well enlarge existing cracks around windows.


Ivy working at covering this old wall


Hardy to USDA zone 5 it will quickly cover a wall in almost any exposure.

It does not appreciate a full hot sun but does much better in a slightly more protected and part shade location.

I note that it is not reliably hardy in zone 4 as it will winterburn in 1 year out of 3.

This usually leaves the plant dead to the ground but with the dead vines still attached to the building and ugly. Look for the variety 'Robusta' as it is one of the hardiest varieties.


Boston ivy can be propagated from seed but tender tip cuttings root easily in the spring (in a glass of water in the home garden) and as many as the gardener desires can easily and quickly be rooted.

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This native to China and Japan comes in a variety of leaf sizes and color:

'Robusta' a dark green, vigorous and the hardiest variety.

'Atropurpurea' is a vigorous grower with purplish-red leaves in early spring - turning green for the main season and again turning a reddish tone in the fall.

'Aurata' has leaves that are almost yellow with green and red tones.

'Beverly Brook' has small leaves with a red tone in the fall.

'Green Spring' has a red tinge to the early leaf and a shiny green leaf for the main growing season.

'Veitchii' has a blistered red variegation when the leaf is young but green thereafter.

Boston Ivy is one of those interesting vines that can be easily grown if the building is in good repair and some simple spring maintenance to remove tendrils from around windows and roof eaves is done.

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Sources for Boston Ivy - I suggest you start with plants rather than seeds

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