Colorful Climbing Vines

    • Garlic cloves can be planted now. Keep them watered and weeded through the winter and you will harvest healthy large bulbs next June.
    • Crimson clover, fava beans and rye grass will fortify your garden soil over the winter. Seed these crops as you compost your summer vegetables.
    • Fragrant Paperwhite narcissus will bloom indoors by Thanksgiving if planted now in rocks and water.
    • Wildflower seed broadcasted with the first rains will take root over the winter and burst into flower next spring.
    • Watch out for Jack Frost! On cold nights, cover summer vegetable plants that are still producing to extend the harvest.

Brilliant Fall Color from Climbing Vines

When it comes to fiery fall foliage, Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) puts on a spectacular show that’s unsurpassed by other deciduous vines.

This is one of the toughest vines around, thriving in poor soils, sun or shade, in both cold and hot climates and either dry or damp soils. This vigorous vine can be used as a groundcover, can shade an arbor or climb a stone or brick wall. This plant provides great cover for small animals because of is thick foliage.

But be careful where you use it, as Virginia Creeper does more than creep: it grows as much as 10 feet a year, and its tendrils will attach themselves to trees or shrubs as easily as fences and walls. It is an excellent covering for walls, trellises, arbors or fences. It may also be grown on the ground to cover old stumps, rock piles and other “eyesores”. As a ground cover it grows about 12 inches high.
Its leaves are made up of 5 leaflets and are up to 6 inches across. While its summer flowers are insignificant, Virginia Creeper produces small, blue-black berries that attract wildlife.

Virginia Creeper is sometimes confused with its close relative, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), which has three leaflets, as opposed to Virginia Creeper’s five.

Boston Ivy covers the exterior walls of a number of prestigious northeastern universities and is probably responsible for the term “Ivy League.”

It is a deciduous, self-clinging vine with large glossy leaves 4 to 8 inches across. The color of the leaves changes with the season starting with light green in spring, dark green in summer, and peach to scarlet crimson in fall.

It is also an excellent climber. It can grow and spread 30-60 feet and is one of the fastest growing vines. On buildings a north or east wall works the best, but it will also climb tree trunks, arbors, trellises or retaining walls. It is a tough vine that tolerates urban settings and easily handles most conditions including shade and drought. It will make a thick ground cover about 9 inches high.

Boston Ivy flowers are small, green, and difficult to locate. They develop into blue-black berries on red stalks, which become apparent after the leaves fall. Birds typically consume the berries before winter arrives.

The foliage of Boston Ivy looks similar to maple leaves, especially when it turns deep red in autumn. This ivy makes an excellent backdrop for summer flowers, especially reds, yellows, oranges, and whites.

Fall is an excellent time to plant vines, which will get established over the winter and be ready to take off next spring. So if you need a vigorous vine for a difficult situation, or just want to enjoy the beauty of their fall foliage, consider planting Virginia Creeper or Boston Ivy.

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