How much 'grip' does Boston ivy need?

Hello gardeners,
I'm thinking about putting up a Boston ivy on the east side of our house. That part of the house has wood siding. What do I need to get Boston ivy to climb on it?
Thank you,
Ted Shoemaker
Madison, Wisconsin USDA zone 4/5 AHS heat zone 4/5 Sunset zone 43
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Ivy needs very little grip. You may need to 'tack' a few tentrils onto the wall when you first plant it, but it will 'catch' fairly quickly. You could tie it up with a few nails. It developes suckers on the stems where it connects to anything.
BUT, ivy can be very invasive and destructive. You can train it to climb up, but it will want to spread on the ground, so you'll want to keep an eye on that. Once it is rooted, it is very difficult to remove - take my word. Also, watch that it doesn't grow in between your wood slats or other openings in the wood. Eventually it will pull the wood apart.
It will look pretty covering your wall, just keep an eye on it. Good Luck, Laura
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I would not put Boston Ivy on wood siding. It will definitely grow under clapboards and between the narrowest edges of trim and force the clapboards away from the house. It also causes moisture retention which can lead to potential rot, especially when the clapboards get a gap between them.
-al sung Rapid Realm Technology, Inc. Hopkinton, MA (Zone 6a)
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Wow! That's good to know.
So let's try this another way.
If I put up a trellis, and grow Boston ivy on it, how far from the house should it be, to prevent it from reaching over and growing onto the walls?
Or, is there a colorful climber that won't harm wood siding?
Or, can I safely have Boston ivy climbing a tree?
I'm just looking for options here.
Thanks for all replies.
Ted Shoemaker
> BUT, ivy can be very invasive and destructive.
Alan Sung wrote:

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Keep the Boston Ivy for a ground cover away from wood houses. You can let it grow up solid concrete. Even Boston Ivy growing on bricks or cinder blocks can penetrate the mortar joints. Something colorful and safer for a trellis attached to the house would be clematis. One difference is that it won't climb as high as ivy and is probably a little higher maintenance (just because ivy is almost zero maintenance in terms of fertilizer, winterization, insects, etc).
-alan sung Rapid Realm Technology, Inc. Hopkinton, MA (Zone 6a)
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I'm sorry, but most of the replies in this thread are totally insane.
First of all, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is not a true ivy (genus Hedera). It is a woody, deciduous vine, closely related to Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
The reason it's called "Boston ivy" is that is grows all over the place in the northeastern U.S., including on very old buildings that have quite happily endured for centuries. It is the eponymous "ivy" of the Ivy League.
P. tricuspidata will not, as some posters claim, sink roots into your walls. What happens is, as the stems grow longer, they produce tendrils that are tipped by small, disk-shaped suckers that stick like glue to just about anything they touch. This is not a destructive process. The stickers do not burrow or "root" -- they just stick, tenaciously.
This is worth thinking about. Once a Parthenocissus gets attached to your house, it will want to stay there. But most of the fears people express about this are clearly irrational, as a casual drive through old neighborhoods in Boston or environs will attest.
I suppose you could think of more finicky alternatives, like ornamental grape (Vitus) that could clamber up a trellis, or wisteria, which won't hurt your wall but will need extremely sturdy support as it grows more massive, or hops (Humulus), which you can get in a lovely golden-leaved cultivar, and bugs absolutely adore, or climbing hydrangea -- which actually I greatly admire, but is very slow to get established, and has much of the tenaciously clinging nature of Parthenocissus -- and yes, there is clematis, especially the small-flowered, autumn-flowering kind. But there is no real substitute for the vigorous and carefree and bird-friendly and tolerant-of-everything Parthenocissus clan.
For that matter, I don't believe many of the scare stories about real ivy, or Hedera, either. Where I was raised, in Virginia, one can find ancient trees and buildings absolutely smothered in that, which sometimes DOES root from the stems, and grows more densely, and is evergreen, and in its adult life-stage becomes in effect an aerial shrub. Compared to Hedera, Parthenocissus is a dainty Victorian lady, wilting away every autumn. I think a lot of people are just afraid of what real Nature actually looks like.

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Sorry if there was any confusion. I did not mean to say that the stickers or tendrils burrow into your wood siding. What I meant is that the actual stem will force its way between narrow openings. As the stem matures and grows thicker in diameter, it can force that narrow opening wider. The ivy you see growing in the Ivy League is growing on stone or brick buildings. Not much is growing on wood. Those universities also perform routine maintenance to keep the ivy where it is supposed to be and away from windows, doors, and other vents.
-alan sung [an ex-Ivy Leaguer] Rapid Realm Technology, Inc. Hopkinton, MA (Zone 6a)
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