How to Grow Boston Ivy

Updated February 21, 2017

Boston ivy, also known as Japanese ivy or Boston creeper, is a deciduous climbing vine grown for its ornamental value against stone and brick walls. It is one of the most commonly planted vines in the United States, and its popularity may arise from its ease of care and beauty. The simple, dark green leaves turn a deep scarlet colour during fall if plants are grown in full sun. Boston ivy planted in shady locations may not produce bright colours but will grow and expand readily.

Choose a planting location that has well-drained, fertile soil near a wall, trellis or other support for the Boston ivy to climb. Prepare the site by spreading a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic compost over the area. Use a garden tiller to incorporate into the soil.

Plant Boston ivy plants or bare-root cuttings in early spring. Space plants 10 to 12 inches apart, as they need plenty of room to grow and expand. Full sun is best for optimal autumn colour, but Boston ivy will also grow in shade if necessary.

Water immediately after planting, and then once every 2 weeks in shaded areas. Water once per week in full sun or during dry periods. Once the Boston Ivy is established, only water during weeks that receive less than 1 inch of natural rainfall.

Feed Boston ivy plants once per year in spring, using a balanced organic fertiliser formulated for trees and shrubs. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage and application. Water thoroughly after applying fertiliser for the best results.

Prune Boston ivy in spring about once per year, but only if necessary to control its size. Use pruning shears to snip the vine just above the node, or the area where the leaf stem meets the main stem. New shoots will emerge from older nodes, resulting in more compact growth.


Do not allow Boston ivy to climb trees, as the vines can interfere with photosynthesis. This can cause damage to or even kill trees. All parts of the Boston ivy plant are poisonous and should not be ingested. Keep curious pets and children away from the plant at all times. Boston ivy has the potential to damage masonry walls. Use a trellis to grow the plant unless you're absolutely sure you want it as a permanent fixture against a wall. It can be almost impossible to remove from walls and buildings once established.

Things You'll Need

  • Trellis (optional)
  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Organic fertiliser
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including