Clinging/growing vines for the side of our home

(Question)

Hi,

we live in Vaughan, just north of Toronto, and have been thinking about planting a clinging/growing on the side of our home, closer to the front, so that the vines will only grown onto one side of the front of our home (See attached photo. We want the vines to grow on the left side of the home around the large two story window).

We have done some internet research and have found that there are a few varieties of vines, though, the one we’re interested mostly is Virginia Creeper. We like that it changes colours with the changing of the seasons and that it is an Ontario grown, hardy plant.

Our fear with using this on our home, however, is that we’ve read stories of the vines penetrating the mortar surrounding the brick and causing long term damage. We’ve also read that the vines could attract mice/rats and this is something we definitely do not want.

Would you give us your thoughts on this plant or perhaps suggest a better plant for use on our home? Also, what is the best way to plant the vine (right up against the wall? away from the wall? ect… ) Finally, where in Toronto can we find this plant?

Thank you for your advice and your time.

(Answer)

Climbing vines are remarkable plants that can cover the sided of a building, cover fences, decorate trellises, and accent architectural features. Some can even be used as ground covers.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) grows quickly are easy to grow and require little maintenance, aside from trimming. The plant thrives in partial shade to full sun. It prefers acidic soil, and tolerates a wide range of soils from dry sandy soils to moist loamy soils. This plant  provides food and shelter for birds and insects. Virginia creeper attaches to buildings and other objects using sucker-like pads on tendrils. The in-ground roots of these vines do not damage building foundations. The aerial rootlets or adhesive discs don’t damage or break-up mortar. They cling to the surface with cement-like compound that they secrete. They may actually help protect bricks and masonry as they moderate the effects of moisture/heat and dryness.

Many of the advantages of these creepers also count as disadvantages. While they do grow fast, they do not simply stop at a point where you want them to stop.The plant can become a nuisance by climbing into gutters and under roof tiles or slates. Regular pruning, which is best carried out in spring is required to contain this vine. In addition, these plants self-propagate at an alarming rate. They spread out via rhizomes and seeds. Birds eat the seeds and spread them to your flowerbeds and vegetable garden. If you decide to plant this creeper, you need to be vigilant and weed often. The berrries provide food and shelter for birds however, dense foliage also provides food and shelter for spiders and other insects.

Some other self clinging vines too consider are:

1)Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia “Star Showers”) This vine posseses attractive 5-lobed leaves that are splashed with creamy white however, the variegation in this cultivar may not be stable.

2)Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).  The new leaves of Boston Ivy are reddish. The leaves typically turn green in summer, before reverting to a reddish color in fall. Grow this vine in partial shade to full sun in a well-drained, loamy soil. Planting Boston ivy plants in full sun allows them to achieve maximum fall colour.

3) Japanese hydrangea (Schizophragma  hydrangeoides‘Moonlight’) This woody root climber has long-stalked, ovate silver-green leaves with deep-green veining. In midsummer creamy flowers cover  the vine. Like climbing hydrangea, this plant is slow to mature, taking 7 years or so to put on a good show. Plant this vine at least 24 inches away from host plant or support, in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil.

Have fun planting your vines!