Boston Ivy

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Boston ivy is one of about ten species from North America and Asia belonging to the genus Parthenocissus. It is not actually an ivy but a member of the Vitaceae, or grape family. It’s a particularly good climber for covering large walls or fences, with the added bonus of a magnificent display of foliage colour in autumn. Don looked at a planting of Parthenocissus tricuspidata growing over a brushwood fence at Homeworld, in Kellyville, New South Wales. This works particularly well, because when the plant loses its leaves in winter the brownish tracery of the stems blends with the grey/brown of the brushwood.

Plant details

Common name: Boston or Japanese ivy

Botanic name: Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Description: Deciduous climber which attaches itself to walls by means of sucker-like discs at the tips of branched tendrils. The leaves are 3-lobed and turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and purple in autumn.

Best climate: Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and the Mountains.

Good points:

spectacular autumn colour excellent for covering large walls good for softening a brushwood fence quick coverage


disc-like suckers permanently mark walls


Boston ivy needs some kind of vertical support to climb on, and a position in full sun for best autumn colour. Pruning is not necessary except to control size.

Getting started:

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is available at your local nursery. Expect to pay around $14.95 for a 200mm (8″) sized pot.