The Q&A Archives: Where can I get flats of Boston Ivy?

Question: Re: Boston Ivy
We lost a 6-7 foot wide wall of Boston Ivy because of drought. 8 more feet remain in a shadier part of the wall, and we'd like to replace what is missing. Problem is that the ivy is 40+ years old, and what we're finding isn't the same. Ours has leaves that measure as much as 5 to 6 inches in width and turns brownish in winter. We're finding approx. the same size, but it turns red in winter. Also, we'd like to buy flats of the material, so that we can plant it right into the ground at the base of the wall. Do you sell it that way? We're finding only 3-foot plants that are entwined around a stake. We've been to two of the nurseries on your list - Rohsler's & Eisele's - but no luck.

Answer: Based on your description, I am not certain which plant you have. Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and the related Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus virginiana) will turn red in the fall so perhaps you have a different plant altogether. It is possible you have a large leafed form of Hedera helix (English ivy -- an evergreen that can turn brown in harsh winters) or something a bit rarer such as Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis -- marginally hardy in your area but it is faintly possible in a sheltered location.)

Since you need an exact match, you could root tip cuttings or layer it to propagate it yourself. And, with a very old established vine, you may find that it manages to recover come back on its own from the roots, possibly not until next spring, and regrows very quickly due to the large established root system.

You may also find that you need far fewer plants, as these vines are very large once they mature. You could try to layer it using the existing plant material. Loosen the soil along the base of the wall and work in some organic matter such as compost. Then carefully pull down a few long strands of the vine and lay them out along the base of the wall on top of the loosened soil. Cover the vine with a layer of good quality compost (do not cover the foliage, just the stem) and keep the area moist. With luck, the buried stem will root all along the base of the wall and side shoots will grow up it.

If you want to try propagating it and grow individual plants, here are directions on how to do that.You may need to cut and paste the url into your browser to make it work correctly.

You might also consider layering.

Good luck with your project!

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