What Is This Growing On My House?

A friend emailed me a couple of photos of an aggressive vine growing up a column on her front porch. She worried that it was poison ivy and asked if she should carefully remove it. So I did a little research…

The plant is identified as Parthenocissus quinquefolia                         

A member of the Grape Family Vitaceae or commonly called, Virginia Creeper, Graco


Virginia Creeper is a woody vine, that climbs by means of adhesive discs on its stems. The plant will attach to wood, stone, brick of any object that is in the way of its growth. It has green leaves that are often misidentified as poison ivy. The number of leaves is different. Poison ivy has leaves of three, while Virginia Creeper has leaves of five. Virginia creeper has bright green leaves, until fall approaches. The leaves will turn to red or a shade or orange.


Virginia creeper is found in wooded areas. It is native to East Texas all the way to the Florida coast. It travels up the East coast all the way to New England. If you find is growing on your house, it should probably be removed. It will become so aggressive that it will cover the entire surface.

Sun or shade is acceptable for planting. If it is planted in full sun, it will need watering to become established. Partial shade is recommended for optimum growth.

Fruit and Flowers

Sometime between May and early July flowers will form in clusters. If left to develop the flowers will become berries. The berries will contain seeds that can be planted next spring. The process involves harvesting the seeds and allowing them to dry before planting. Virginia Creeper is not poisonous, but the sap of the plant contains oxalate crystals and can cause skin irritation and rashes in some people.

If the leaves or berries are chewed, they can cause irritation to the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat.


This plant makes a great groundcover. It will grow in any type of enriched soil and will grow in partial shade. This plant has been found growing over rocks and covering hills.

Have questions like this about plants, flowers, or trees? Ask our Master Gardner, Jane!

– Jane Slone writes articles on gardening for EllisDownHome.comJane grew up in Dallas, and moved with her husband to Ellis County 25 years ago. She opened three flower shops, operated, and eventually sold the shops. She taught Microbiology and Anatomy & Physiology at the college level and retired 26 years later. She loves to garden and has become a Master Gardener. Her joy is teaching others about gardening! 


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