Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) is such a beautiful vine in the right spot! Its fall colour is fantastic if it gets enough sun. Mine, however, was planted on the northeast side of my house, and with the additional shade of surrounding trees, it only got a couple hours of morning sun. It was almost dead when I moved into this house 5 years ago, and I have tried to save it… until now. This past week-end I ruthlessly ripped it out!
This is what it looks like by this time of year – the leaves have turned brown and spotted, and it is hopping with little bugs, literally called 'Virginia creeper leafhopper' (or ‘erythroneura ziczac’, if you want to get technical!) These bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and are to blame for making the vine look so ugly by this time of year.
So, out this vine comes. Some possibilities for replacing it? Honeysuckle vines do fairly well in partial shade, but I already have 3 in the backyard, so was looking for something different. I ended up choosing an alpine clematis. This is not one of the large-flowered clematis that bloom in summer and need lots of sun, but a hardy, spring blooming clematis that likes partial shade and never needs cutting back.
The clematis variety that I got, mainly because it was one of the few I could find at the garden centers this time of year,is called clematis alpina ‘Willy’. It has pale pink, nodding flowers, and as I said, blooms in spring and doesn’t need cutting back. I should eventually get 6-8 ft tall and wide, so eventually will cover my chimney again. It is drought tolerant once established and not generally bothered by pests.