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Possible Dangers of Virginia Creeper Growing Near Your Home

Possible Dangers of Virginia Creeper Growing Near Your Home

The Virginia creeper is well-known for its spectacular beauty, making it a highly desired plant for many people who enjoy climbing. It easily flourishes in different environments without requiring much help, but this can occasionally present a problem. Despite its appealing characteristics, the Virginia creeper also has a downside.

Will Virginia creeper damage my house? If you have painted walls or stucco, the Virginia creeper can cause mild damage to them. Unlike other climbers that penetrate cracks in the walls, the Virginia creeper uses adhesives on the discs at the end of its tendrils to stick to surfaces. Most of the time, the damage is minimal and limited to the surfaces.

Just because your walls are relatively safe doesn’t mean that the Virginia creeper is a completely harmless plant. Read more to find out the possible dangers the climber poses to your home.

Virginia Creeper Problems – What To Be Aware Of

The health hazards of Virginia creeper are well documented. Its sap causes a rash when it comes in contact with the skin, but that’s not all you have to worry about when you decide to plant this vine near your home.

Is Virginia Creeper a Weed?

The Virginia creeper is a vine. It’s a member of the grape family. Although it has a fast growth rate and a tendency to spread and cover as much space as it can, not everyone considers it a weed. Some people plant it intentionally for its ornamental value.

That said, the vine has some qualities that make it easy to mistake it for weed. It self-propagates, and if left unchecked, it will crowd out other plants in its vicinity.  

Is Virginia Creeper Invasive?

The Virginia creeper is native to North America. However, the plant is hard to manage once it takes root in any site. Every node on the vine has the ability to grow roots when it lands on the ground.

Moreover, it tends to escape gardens and spread out where it will reclaim every inch of soil from other established plants in the area. In that sense, it can be considered an invasive and aggressive plant.

Is Virginia Creeper Poisonous To Touch?

The climber is not toxic to the touch. Its sap is irritating and can cause a rash, but it’s not toxic. The same cannot be said about the berries. They contain oxalic acid, and if consumed, they can cause mild symptoms of food poisoning in humans and animals.

Virginia Creeper Root System

The root system of Virginia creeper is the main reason it’s hard to manage the vine. The roots spread deep and far from the vine. Even if you cut the crown, the roots will keep growing and develop a new plant. It takes a lot of work to uproot and eradicate a single vine.

Will Virginia Creeper Roots Damage Foundations?

Unlike many other plants with a robust root system, Virginia creeper doesn’t harm the foundations or underground pipes.

The roots avoid obstructions in their way and work their way around them without trying to penetrate them. This is why you won’t see broken slabs on the curb where the vine grows. Its roots are harmless.

How Virginia Creeper Climbs

Virginia creeper sends tendrils up in search of a vertical structure to cling to. Each tendril has a disc at the tip with an adhesive material that helps it stick to just about any surface.

The tendrils don’t need cracks in the wall to penetrate and wrap around. Once the tendrils hold on to a spot, more tendrils grow in that direction in search of more vertical space.

Walls and fences offer excellent support for the climber, but it will just as easily climb over a lamppost, a tree, or an abandoned vehicle.

Virginia Creeper Growth Rate

The Virginia creeper doesn’t just spread everywhere; it also spreads fast. On average, the vine will grow about 20 feet a year. Most of this growth is vertical, but the plant will also spread wide to cover the whole side of a house if you let it.

Ways Virginia Creeper Can Damage Your Home

For the most part, the damage the Virginia creeper causes to your home is limited to the surface of the walls. If the walls are painted or you have stucco, the sticky discs on the tendrils can pull out the paint and stucco. This is especially true as the plant matures and the vines get heavier.

The stubborn vines can grow underneath siding as well, causing structural damage and unsightly bulges.

In the garden, the Virginia creeper is highly competitive. It crowds out plants and even trees. Its roots spread out and deplete the nutrients in the soil leaving little for plants and trees to subsist on.

Virginia creeper growing along the forest floor.

How To Get Rid of Virginia Creeper

If you want to control and kill Virginia creeper, you have a few ways to go about it.

Keep in mind that there’s no fast and furious way to get rid of the vine overnight. It takes time and a few tries before you finally will rid the garden or the property of the persistent climber. Here’s how to kill the creeper.

  • Uproot: One of the most effective ways to get rid of the Virginia creeper is to dig it out. It takes a lot of time to actually remove every last bit of its extensive root system, but if you don’t have other plants in the area, then this is the best way to kill the plant.
  • Chemicals: You can apply white vinegar or rock salt to kill the plant. If you use either vinegar or rock salt, you won’t be able to grow anything in the area for a while. You can also use a glyphosate herbicide on the leaves and vines. However, the herbicide doesn’t kill the roots, and the plant might spring back to life in another spot.
  • Mulch: If you have only a small, young Virginia creeper, you may be able to get rid of it by cutting off access to light. Cut back any growth you see, and cover the entire area with a thick layer of mulch.
  • Cut Back and Mow: This is the easiest but least effective way to get rid of the creeper. Cut back the vine to the ground and mow any growth you see that emerges from the buried roots. The live roots will keep growing a new plant back, which will require you to mow the site regularly.

Removing Virginia Creeper Tendrils

When removing the Virginia creeper tendrils, you have to consider the weight of the whole vine. Once you pull out a few sticky suckers, the plant might come tumbling down.

Unless your goal is to remove the entire vine, then you should pull out a few tendrils at a time to maintain the integrity of the creeper. The tendrils come off easily. Just grab them, and pull them off the wall. 

Related Questions:

Will Virginia Creeper Kill a Tree?

There’s a good chance that the Virginia creeper could kill a tree. This will mostly happen as a consequence of competing over nutrients and moisture in the soil. The roots of the vine are over-competitive and will leave nothing for the tree to feed on.

Will Roundup Kill Virginia Creeper?

Roundup is a herbicide for tough vines and brushes. You can apply it on the Virginia creeper to help get rid of it. Follow the instructions on the label, but know that it will likely only kill a small portion of the plant and will require several applications.

Conclusion

The Virginia creeper is a vine that grows just about anywhere. It uses little adhesive discs on its forked tendrils to climb and stick to walls.

If the walls are painted or covered with stucco, the adhesive discs might cause damage to the surface of the walls.