layering bulbs with other plants

Jane McGary
Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:47:40 PDT
If a plant that can also climb is being considered as a groundcover over 
bulbs, I would not recommend the Akebia that, as a mystery plant, 
started the recent discussion. Akebia spreads underground and can be 
very difficult to eradicate, and its wirelike stems can really strangle 
shrubs. An alternative that seems to be working well here is 
Parthenocissus henryana (it may now be P. henryi?), which has beautiful 
foliage with silvery zones on each leaf. So far it has not traveled 
underground, though the stems can root down shallowly, in which case 
they are easy to pull up. It has climbed a brick house wall, but its 
gripping tendrils are fragile, unlike those of ivy, and control is not 
difficult. I think it must normally climb trees and shrubs. It is 
deciduous (after lovely fall color), so spring bulbs complete their 
growth before the cover plant leafs out. During summer mine is 
coexisting without apparent problems with shrubs such as Daphne and 
Mahonia (Berberis), which it shows no inclination to climb, and 
perennials such as Iris unguicularis and hellebores. I tried to grow 
this Parthenocissus in my former garden without success; probably it 
could not tolerate the fast-draining soil there, but it's now happy in 
heavily mulched clay soil.

jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

More information about the pbs mailing list