Parthoncissus tricuspidata: a vigorous, self-supporting climber with breathtaking autumn colour

Parthenocissus tricuspidata is perhaps better known by its common name of Boston Ivy, and is part of the vine family. A vigorous deciduous plant, it is a very useful climber for gardeners and garden designers because it grows quickly and is self-supporting. It doesn’t need wires or trellising but climbs by ‘gripping’ on to walls or fences via tiny circular sucker pads. It can cover large surfaces over a relatively short space of time (with typical growth of 1-2m per year), so it does need pruning to size once it has covered the wall or screen you want it to cover.

As the name ‘tricuspidata’ suggests, it’s leaves have three points (just as Parthenocissus quinquefolia (common name: Virginia creeper) has five pointed leaves), which are a glossy rich mid-green in late spring and summer. In autumn the leaves slowly transform in to the most amazing shades of orange and red, to produce a breath-taking wall of colour.


Few other plants offer such dramatic autumnal colour, and very few climbers are anything like as interesting at this time of year. It is for this reason that I like to use P. tricuspidata frequently when I design gardens for our customers, and it is a worthy selection for our October plant of the month.


P. tricuspidata is a very versatile plant. It can cope with almost any British winter and whilst it generally prefers well-drained soils it will actually grow in almost any soil condition. The best autumn colour tends to come from plants in full or partial shade, although in sunnier positions it will provide colour a little earlier in the season.


It is easy to maintain, and can be pruned at any time of year. Given its enthusiastic growth-rate it is often a good idea to trim little and often if it starts to encroach too close to doors, windows or guttering.


Whether it is grown to cover an unsightly building or wall, as a backdrop to an ornamental garden, or simply just for a glorious burst of fiery autumnal colour, P. tricuspidata is a wonderful climber and a real star performer in any autumn garden. We've got one on the front of Tythorne Garden Design HQ and it always looks absolutely resplendent at that time of the year!

Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.

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TYTHORNE GARDEN DESIGN: Tythorne Lodge, Oasby, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 3NA


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