Boston ivy is a wonderful ornamental vine with elegant, dark green glossy foliage which is replaced with a vivid range of crimson reds in autumn. It is sensational for covering stone walls, bricks, fences and arbors. If allowed, it will grow to impressive size and can turn the mundane side of a masonry building into a stately wall of foliage.
The plants produce inconspicuous flowers, yielding to clusters of dark blue berries. The berries are visible in autumn following leaf drop and provide food for birds. The leaves are a very distinctive three-lobed shape and are about 20cm (8in) long.
Plant Boston ivy in well-drained soil in sun, part shade or shade. It tolerates poor soil but grows more quickly in fertile soil and is drought tolerant once established. Dormant plants are hardy to -15°C (5°F)
Boston ivy can also be grown up a tall, strong tree. Plant it well away from the base of the tree and direct its growth back toward the tree trunk with thin stakes and twine. This strategy gives the vine its own root zone
Store seeds in the fridge or a cool dry location until you are ready to sow.
These seeds need a period of cold to break their dormancy and enable them to germinate.There are two methods – The seeds can be left to go through the seasons naturally or germination hastened by “Stratifying”
In Autumn use - The “Natural” Method”
Sow outside in the autumn in a cold frame for germination in spring.
Soak the seeds for 24 hours. Sow at around 16-21°C (60-70°F) using John Innes seed compost, or something similar. Press the seeds into the compost and “Just cover” as they need light for germination. Place each container in a polythene bag or cover with glass or clear plastic. Place the containers outside in a cold frame or plunge them up to the rims in a sheltered part of the garden border. Germination can be erratic, Transplant when large enough to handle.
At all other times of year - “Hastening Germination” with stratification
Soak the seeds for 24 hours. Place the seeds in a plastic bag or small container filled with slightly moist seed compost or vermiculite that has been sprayed with a fungicide product to help prevent mildew. Put the bag or container into the refrigerator at -4°C (39°F) This is the usual temperature that fridges are kept at, or somewhere with a similar temperature for 6 -8 weeks. Check seeds periodically and transplant any that may have germinated. After 8 weeks, sow the seeds and place in a room with temperatures of around 21°C (70°F).
Germination can be erratic from 60 to 180 days, but it is important to keep the seeds moist during this period
When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Keep watered if drought conditions are present during first months of growing, after the plant is established, it is very drought tolerant.
Young plants require some training and support until the climber is well established. (This may take up to two years.) When planting they should be spaced 4m (14ft) apart.
No regular pruning is necessary, but once established, tie in stray shoots and prune to keep the plant within bounds. Do this in early winter or in summer if necessary. It can be cut annually to 1m (39in) from the ground to restrict its size.
Excellent on buildings, it is also suitable for growing over arbors, pergolas and various supports. Perennial vines offer good solutions for many landscape design challenges. They can screen for privacy and they can hide an unsightly utility area, cover an ugly shed or camouflage an architectural feature that you dislike.
Vines can serve as attractive “walls” to separate different sections of your garden, they also can serve as groundcover on a steep slope.
In courtyards and other small garden areas, growing ivy and other vines up the walls extends the garden and helps create a sense of quiet and enclosure.
Parthenocissus tricuspidata veitchii is native to Asia. It is found in Japan and China, which explains why it occasionally called Japanese ivy.
Pronounced par-then-no-sis-sus try-cuss-pidd-ay-tah.
The Latinised Greek name for Boston ivy is something of a misnomer. Partheno- means "virgin" (as in "Virginia") and cissus translates as "ivy." But while its relative, Virginia creeper, is, indeed, native to Virginia, Boston ivy is of Far Eastern origin. Neither plant is a true ivy.
The species name tricuspidata, refers to the mature leaves of Boston Ivy, tri referring to the leaves, while not compound they do have three distinct lobes and cuspidata meaning tipped with a firm point.
Commonly called "Boston ivy" it grows over many building in the northeastern part of America including on very old buildings of colleges that have quite happily endured for centuries. It is the eponymous "Ivy" of the Ivy League.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Genus Parthenocissus Species tricuspidata Cultivar Veitchii Common Name Boston Ivy, Bostonian Ivy, Wall Ivy Other Common Names Old Ivy, Purpurea Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Small, green clusters appearing in late May to mid August. Foliage Dark green, turning to shades of red-purple in autumn Height 4-6m (14-20ft) in 5 years Position Sun or partial shade. Soil Fertile, moist and well drained Notes Fruits: Blue berries in autumn, Vine / Climber