Vitis – Popular Shrubs for the Garden

Parthenocissus (Vitis) quinquefolia - Virginia Creeper


Vitis are the vines and vine relatives, the Virginia Creepers and similar plants that, for the sake of convenience, the closely related genera Ampelopsis and Parthenocissus are included under this heading, particularly as from the gardener’s point of view there is little to differentiate them.

Those grown in British gardens are all deciduous climbers, some of them self-clinging by means of small ‘sucker-pads’, others needing support. Most of them are notable for their brilliant autumn foliage tints, a few produce bunches of grape-like fruits following their greenish, insignificant flowers. They are usually seen clothing walls, and many of them are excellent on north or east walls, but they are also good plants for fences, pergolas, archways, tree stumps or for growing into trees.

Parthenocissus Like wisterias, they may be used to smother out-houses, sheds, garages and the like, without doing structural damage to the buildings.

None of these useful climbers is fussy about soil, but, like any climber planted near a wall, it is worth enriching the soil before planting, since these sites are usually poor and dry  and overhanging eaves may keep them dry, even in wet weather. Compost, moist peat or leaf-mould dug into the soil in generous quantities, with the site widely and deeply dug, should ensure that the plants get a good start and will continue to make rapid growth. No pruning is needed.

Parthenocissus (Vitis) henryana The most striking plant for shady walls is Parthenocissus (Vitis) henryana, a tendril climber, with delightful purple and white variegated leaves that turn red in autumn. The true Virginia Creeper is Parthenocissus (Vitis) quinquefolia, with bright scarlet and orange leaves in autumn. The popular large-leaved ‘Virginia Creeper’ is Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia creeper tricuspidata, the leaves of which turn the most fiery colours in October. Of the true Ampelopsis, Ampelopsis brevipeduculata is the best because not only do its hop-like leaves colour well, but it also has bunches of china-blue grapes in autumn.

Another striking plant is Vitis coignetiae, with leaves up to 1 foot across, turning to all imaginable shades of crimson and orange in autumn. This is better for a pergola, or for covering an outhouse, rather than for a wall.

See: more varieties of popular shrubs

14. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Climber Plants, Herbaceous Plants, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Vitis – Popular Shrubs for the Garden


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