Content Detail

Boston-ivy is a deciduous vine often used to cover brick walls and other hard surfaces of old universities buildings or famous ball fields. It has dark green leaves that turn a brilliant red in the fall. Despite its name, Boston-ivy is not native to Boston but to eastern Asia.

  • Family (English) Grape
  • Family (botanic) Vitaceae
  • Tree or plant type Vine
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Vining
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and Method of Climbing:

Boston-ivy is a fast growing, deciduous, woody vine that typically grows 30 to 50 feet high. It is a vigorous clinging vine that clings to surfaces with holdfasts. Clinging vines attach themselves directly to a surface by means of holdfasts (adhesive discs) or by small aerial roots. This type of vine grows best on a flat surface, such as stone, masonry walls and wood, but difficult to remove and may damage painted surfaces and leave residue. 

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to eastern Asia, Japan, Korea, and eastern China.

Leaf description:

The leaves are alternately arranged. They are four to eight inches wide, simple three-lobed leaves with serrated margins. They are glossy green in summer and turn a reddish purple in fall.

Flower description:

Boston-ivy has greenish-white flower panicles in June. They are not ornamentally important.

Fruit description:

It produces a bluish-black fruit that ripens in September and often persists into winter.

Plant care:

It is best  grown in average, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Although boston-ivy is tolerant of full shade, the best fall color occurs in full sun. This species has shown some aggressive tendency in naturalized areas or when minimally managed in cultivation.

List of pests and diseases:

There aren’t any serious pests or diseases, although it is susceptible to leaf spot. It is deer, drought, and black walnut tolerant.

Fenway Park Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Fenway Park’):

This cultivar has yellow leaves in the spring that turn to chartreuse in the summer and then change to red in the fall.

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