Virginia creeper

(Question)

Earlier this year, in my backyard (in Etobicoke) along the fence line I removed what appeared to be a very invasive vine that had been building up over the years. I though I had dug everything up. After that I planted cedars and some grass seed. I have been watering the cedars and grass daily and have noticed that the vine is back and now starting to creep toward my cedars. There appear to be a few types of vines/weeds growing together. The area is full sun most of the day. What type of plants are these? How do I get rid of them and not kill my cedars too? Some of my cedars are starting to have yellow leaves, would this be caused by the vines? I have lots of photos if you would like to see them. HELP!
Thanks

(Answer)

 

It seems that you have a Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), a rapidly growing deciduous woody vine that can grow to 50 ft. New roots develop when the nodes of the vine touch the ground as well as from seeds.  The vine has 5 leaflets and oval adhesive discs at the end of tendrils which adhere to walls and fences.  Virginia creepers are often grown for their brilliant red fall colour.  The following web site offers further information and photographs of this vine.

http://cwf-fcf.org/en/discover-wildlife/flora-fauna/flora/virginia-creeper.html?referrer=https://www.google.ca/

Now that this vine has reappeared in your garden, you know that it is not easy to get rid of.  Herbicides have been used in the past, but the Toronto Pesticide Bylaw would not permit the use of these in home gardens in the City of Toronto (as this would be considered a cosmetic use).

The best approach will be to dig it out as soon as it appears.  Eventually the roots will die from lack of nutrients.  You will have to be diligent and persistent.  It is possible to get rid of this vine in this manner.  I have been successful in my own garden using this method.

Regarding your cedar, lack of water, insect pests or even root rot are all possible culprits but your problem could just be natural cedar flagging. The British Columbia Department of Agriculture has a good site about cedars that you might find helpful.  For example, it states that “if only a few branches have died out in patches along the hedge in summer, this may be natural cedar flagging. It is very common on Western Red Cedar and less frequent on Eastern White Cedar. Flagging may be more severe in hot, dry weather but is not considered harmful to the tree.” For more information see: http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/cedar.htm

You mention that you water your cedars daily.  You have the right idea – that cedars grow naturally in wet areas, but it is better to water deeply and thoroughly once or twice a week as opposed to watering more often and lightly.  Adding mulch around your cedars will help retain the moisture for their shallow root system.

The same watering regime applies to lawns.  Once established, water your lawn thoroughly and deeply once a week.  A deep watering will encourage the grass roots to grow further into the soil, thus protecting them from drier spells in the future.

The link below provides interesting information about pruning and fertilizing cedars which you might find helpful for the future.

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askagardener/pruning-and-fertilizing-cedar-hedge

Good luck with your visiting Virginia Creeper!