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I planted a virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) just beside a large tree, and it developed two strong straight shoots (7-8 feet long) this year so far - one going up the tree, and another straight over the soil.

Shoot up the tree is ok, but how can I train the shoot at the soil level to become ground cover, not just one line of leaves?

  • How long ago did you plant it? How much growth do you expect in this time from your vine? A full ground cover will probably take more time. – benn Aug 6 '18 at 8:34
  • It was planted last autumn. It looks healthy this year, I am even pleasantly surprised with the degree of growth. @b.nota I am patient. But want to know if I can speed up the process, wait for years rather than decades. – Aleksandar M Aug 6 '18 at 8:42
  • You have two (strong) shoots in this years, if you'll let it grow it will double each year. To speed up you could plant more? – benn Aug 6 '18 at 8:46
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    Virginia creeper is a slow starter but one one plant is more than enough to cover houses or seriously impair the health of a tree. In the wild it is more often found climbing than a ground cover so what you are trying to do is working against what the plant normally does – kevinsky Aug 6 '18 at 10:30
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The technique you need is layering. It is frequently used with field pumpkin and squash vines which root easily into mounds of soil over the nodes. The natural habit of squash is horizontal, but Viriginia Creeper and other vines like Clematis have a vertical habit and may need pegging. If the creeper is at all woody you might need to injure the tissues at the node to encourage rooting. Spread out the growth so that you have space to get in and do maintenance from time to time, otherwise you will be using a raised horizontal ladder to get at misbehaving sections.

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maintenance of Virginia Creeper

You most certainly can use this as ground cover but you need to know this plant is orientated to grow vertically, not horizontally. You will have to always be pruning and confining its growth to direct it to stay where you want it to go.

Otherwise, this plant will find the first vertical prop; a tree, building, fence and go UP. I would try to find a plant that is genetically predisposed to growing horizontally. Japanese Spurge for instance.

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