Bridge Gardens’ Weeds of the Month | Ivy

October 11, 2023

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

We spend a lot of time weeding invasive vines from Bridge Gardens. We try to get them early and often, but inevitably some escape detection and require more than hand-pulling. Here are three of the most common vines we remove:


Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidate) is native to China and Japan, but grows just about anywhere in the temperate world, in sun or shade, dry rocky soil and clay. It can quickly grow 50 feet up a tree or wall, securing itself with adhesive holdfasts at the ends of its tendrils. Large, three-lobed leaves are dark green in summer and brilliant shades of red and purple in fall.

Small flowers hidden by foliage give rise to hundreds of dark blue berries that become visible after leaves drop and are relished by many species of birds. The ivy of the Ivy League, Boston ivy covers many college and university buildings throughout the U.S. It looks good growing up a massive brick or stone wall, but it can also smother trees and shrubs, large and small, and damage wood fences, siding and gutters.


Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a slightly less vigorous, slightly less weedy, native relative of Boston ivy. Like its Asian cousin, it is tolerant of most site conditions, including heavy shade, has adhesive disks for climbing and produces copious amounts of blue berries favored by birds. Unlike Boston Ivy, it has palmate leaves with 5 leaflets, but these, too, turn vibrant in fall and look good against fences and masonry walls.

Virginia creeper exemplifies the adage that any plant in the wrong place can be considered a weed, even a native. At Bridge Gardens, though we let it be to cover shady ground or grow up certain trees, we do remove it when it’s detrimental to plantings and structures.


Amur peppervine, a.k.a. porcelain berry, (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) is the worst of these three weedy vines, in my opinion, even though it grows only half as tall. Related to wild grapes and similar in appearance, it is another vine brought to the U. S. as an ornamental that has become invasive and considered by most to be a noxious weed. Leaves are 3-lobed, dull green with no fall color. Insignificant flowers give rise to massive amounts of tasty berries that turn lilac, amethyst and porcelain blue as they mature. Like the 2 vines above, Amur peppervine can smother and destroy both natural and landscape plantings.

Consistency and persistence are keys to keeping these invasive plants under control. Remove them before they flower and fruit.

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