Climbers like the Virginia Creeper have always been popular. The beautiful large red leaves really appeal to the imagination, providing a fantastic display of colours which look amazing against an old red brick wall, but even better on a white washed or a grey concrete surface. Be very daring and paint your wall Mediterranean blue before you plant the Virginia creeper. The contrast is spectacular!
Shrubs, runners like Clematis, roses and annual climbers are often classed as climbers although, in truth, they belong to the espaliers, which need to be trained and supported. In fact, there are only 5 self-clinging climbers; ivy, climbing hydrangea, Euonymus, the Trumpet Creeper and the Virginia Creeper. These plants will only have to be pointed into the right direction once. Virginia Creeper, especially, is a beautiful cover for a trellis, pergola, garden gate or some fantasy shape straight out of your imagination. For a delightful living sun shield, make a parasol frame from a pole and some bamboo canes and plant two or three creepers at the base. In a rectangular, modern garden a square or pentagonal shaped parasol provides a fascinating contrasting shape. The aerial rootlets on the shoots will attach themselves to any available support, including trees. If they find no vertical surface to climb, they will turn into ground covering plants.
Virginia Creeper as a climber
This best-known climber is also known as the easiest to grow. It will accept any type of soil, although they do have a slight preference for acidic soil. They can be planted in full sun, half-shade as well as deep shade, although you will get the best result if you place a single plant against a wall which is not north facing. Within a few years the Virginia creeper will have covered the entire wall like a fan.
Beautiful in three seasons
Although the plant loses its foliage in winter, it makes up for that with a different and splendid colour display in each of the other seasons. In spring, green leaves appear, and these slowly change colour all through the summer until presenting a grand finale in autumn with spectacular colours. The Virginia creeper flowers, almost unnoticeably, in June and July with tiny yellowy-green flowers.
Other beautiful climbers
If an entire wall is not available or you prefer finer foliage, the Parthenocissus tri. Lowii would be a good choice. For exotic colour, another variety worth mentioning is the Parthenocissus tri. Veitchii, with lilac coloured berries. Even the first shiny spring foliage is purple!
Pruning Virginia Creeper
If you have a Virginia creeper climbing up your wall, it is almost a shame to prune it. However, when the vines reach the guttering or the roof tiles, it is time to reach for the pruning scissors. Do not hesitate to prune the plant back if it gets too high or wide to your liking. This plant recovers easily.