fbpx Virginia creeper | The Morton Arboretum

Virginia creeper

Virginia creepers red fall color and blue fruit.

Virginia creeper is an aggressive, woody vine native to the Midwest and the Chicago region. This vine is often found growing up tree trunks in native woods, but it can be trained to grow on a fence or arbor. In early autumn the compound, five-leaflet leaves turn a brilliant red.  This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name:

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

All common names:

Virginia creeper

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Vine


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen

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 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping,
  • Vining

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of Climbing

Virginia creeper is a vigorous vine that can easily climb to the top of tall trees.  This is a clinging vine.  Vines adheres to flat surfaces by adhesive disks and aerial rootlets.

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.

Plant Care

 Tolerates full sun to full shade.
Adapted to any well-drained site.

Disease, pests, and problems

Mildews, leaf spots, canker and wilt are occasional problems.
This plant grows so vigorously that it is often considered a weed.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Deer, drought, heavy shade, erosion, black walnut

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 2
Found throughout most of the United States in woods, fencerows, and midwestern forests

Leaf description

Compound-palmate leaves, usually with 5 leaflets that attach in the center. New leaves emerge purplish in spring, mature to dull green in summer and change to a brilliant purple to crimson-red in the fall.

Flower description

Clusters of small, greenish-white flowers appear in the upper leaf axils in late spring to early summer, but are generally hidden by the foliage.

Fruit description

Clusters of bluish-black fruit appear in September and October.

Cultivars and their differences

Star Showers® Virginia creeper  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia 'Monham'):  A cultivar with variegated foliage.

Location of Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) at the Arboretum