English Ivy

Hedera helix, the common ivy, English ivy, European ivy, or just ivy, is a species of flowering plant of the ivy genus in the family Araliaceae, native to most of Europe and western Asia. A rampant, clinging evergreenvine, it is a familiar sight in gardens, waste spaces, and wild areas, where it grows on walls, fences, tree trunks, etc. across its native and introduced habitats.



As a result of its hardy nature, and its tendency to grow readily without human assistance, ivy attained popularity as an ornamental plant, but escaped plants have become naturalised outside its native range and grow unchecked in myriad wild and cultivated areas.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

8 inches (grow horizontally)

50 feet (grow vertically)


Width-Circumference (Avg)

15 feet (grow horizontally)


Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.8


Growth Nutrition of English Ivy


It is generally believed that ivy needs as much nitrogen as phosphorous and potasium (15-15-15). An excellent system is to use a soluble mineral fertilizer dissolved in water and applied bi-weekly or monthly; fertilize during times of active growth.


Varieties of English Ivy


  • Hedera helix 'Adam Ivy' leaves are small and a moderate green color with variegated leaves of silver, grey, and white. It is considered a toxic plant and touching the sap may cause skin irritation.

  • H. helix ‘Aloma Ivy' has dark green, glossy leaves. It has yellow-green flower clusters and blackberries. It has a white and silver variegation.

  • H. helix 'Angel Snow Ivy' is similar to Aloma ivy and Adam ivy, this cultivar of Hedera helix is not bred for any reduced toxicity, but it’s playful and silvery-white variegated foliage.

  • H. helix ‘Anne Marie’ has medium green leaves with a creamy white edge.

  • H. helix ‘ Bettina Ivy' has green leaves with white edging. It is a great option to use in a hanging basket or ground cover as it is long growing and likes to spread out. It can thrive up to hardiness zone 3a. When happy, this variety can reach up to 50 feet tall.

  • H. helix ‘Glacier’ is a common cultivar with silvery variegations and white margins.

  • H. helix ‘Gold Child’ is one of the more popular variegated ivies. It has soft green leaves with wide bright cream-yellow margins.

  • H. helix ‘Congesta’ is bushy with dark green leaves that are tightly and evenly arranged along a stem.


Planting English Ivy

  • Plant the ivy in a rich houseplant potting mix.

  • Use a container with drainage holes.

  • Place the ivy in bright light, but not direct sun. It tolerates low to medium light, but growth is reduced and variegated varieties may turn all green.

  • English ivy prefers cooler temperatures, so keep it away from radiators, heating vents, and hot windows.


Growing English Ivy

  • English ivy grows in sun or shade, and in any soil as long as it’s not waterlogged or highly acidic.

  • Vigorous cultivars with large leaves can be used to rapidly hide eyesores, while variegated varieties are useful for brightening shady areas. English ivy can also be used as ground cover in dry shade.

  • If growing English ivy as a house plant, grow it in a bright, cool spot, out of direct sun. It’s a good choice for a cool porch, unheated conservatory or draughty hallway.


English Ivy Care


The fact that English ivy plants spread quickly means that they can be useful as ground cover for filling in hard-to-plant spots in your landscaping. Their aggressive nature suggests that they could be effective allies against erosion on hillsides. At home indoors or out, English ivy does well planted in containers or baskets where its trailing vines can hang down. Ivy needs protection from winter winds as well as the hot summer sun, so plant appropriately.


Light


English ivy plants grow well in part shade to full shade. The ability to grow in shade has made English ivy a traditional ground cover for planting under trees, where most grasses may not grow well. Since ivy is vigorous and has a dense growth habit, it's an effective ground cover if your objective is to crowd out weeds.


Ivy grown indoors needs bright, indirect light in summer but can benefit from some direct light in winter.


Soil


Grow this evergreen vine in well-drained soil. Although it will grow in poor soils and soils of a wide range of pH levels, it does best in average loams. A thick layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist in dry climates.


Indoors, ivy does best in potting mix that is loose and well-drained.


Water


When watering your ivy, always check the soil before adding water. Ivy prefers to be kept slightly on the dry side, so let the soil dry out some (dry to the touch on top) before you water your ivy plants again. Indoor or outdoor ivy prefers evenly moist but not soggy soil. Also, make sure that your plant has excellent drainage. Ivy should not be kept in standing water or overly wet soil.


Temperature and Humidity


English Ivy plants grow best in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Their leaves will stay dark green when grown in steady temperatures and medium to high humidity. It does not like cold winter wind or high summer heat.


In some areas and with some species of ivy, it's possible to keep potted plants outdoors in winter, and new growth emerges from the stems in spring.


Fertilizer


Feed English ivy every two weeks during the spring and summer season, using a 20-20-20 fertilizer (or a 2-2-2 organic formula). Do not use fertilizer or plant food if the plant is in a stressful situation: very hot, very cold, or very dry soil, or when leaf production has stopped.


Pruning


Use clean and sharp cutting shears to trim ground cover plants in the spring to keep them manageable and discourage bacterial leaf spot. Prune any ivy into a bushy shape by pinching off its growing tips, also in spring. A hard pruning every few years helps revitalize the plant.


If English ivy is already climbing one of your trees, be careful if you wish to remove it. Do not just rip a vine off, which could hurt the tree's bark. Instead, cut each vine where you find it coming out of the soil at the base of the tree, where it begins its ascent. When cut off from the earth (and thus from a water source), the part of the vine left anchored in the tree bark will eventually wither and die.


This removal technique is the best way to get rid of the plant organically, but it does require some patience. You will need to go back year after year and cut new growth until all strength has been sapped out of the plant. It is only at this point that new shoots will stop emerging every spring.


Propagating English Ivy


The same trimmings or stem cuttings that you take from pruning your ivy can be used to propagate new plants taking these easy steps:


  1. Use healthy stems that are 4 to 5 inches long. Submerge the cut ends in water and wait for roots to develop.

  2. Transfer the stems to a pot or the ground. Plants grown as ground cover naturally spread when stems contact the soil and take root; you can cut rooted stems and dig them up to move them to a pot or a different garden location.


Potting and Repotting English Ivy


Some gardeners grow these plants in hanging baskets, letting them cascade over the sides. Indeed, considering their invasive quality, this is a very sensible way to grow the vines for their beauty without having to worry that they will spread out of control.


Small ivy plants can be repotted once a year, while larger plants can be repotted every two years. Always repot with new potting soil to ensure adequate nutrition. Older plants that can use a boost often can be revived by simply replacing the soil in the same container.


Pests and Plant Diseases


English ivy may become host to aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and other pests, which can usually be sprayed off with water and can be controlled with neem oil or insecticidal soap. One homemade remedy for aphids is to spray the foliage with a mixture of dish soap and water.


Diseases that affect ivy include bacterial leaf spot and root rot. Leaf spot appears as black or dark brown spotting on the plant foliage. Unfortunately, the best remedy is to remove the affected plants. Help protect any remaining plants by spraying them with a 10-to-1 mixture of water to vinegar.


Root rot is typically caused by warm and humid weather and can be fatal to affected plants. Again, removal is the best remedy. Unaffected remaining plants can be treated with fungicide for protection.


Keep in mind that it's best to grow an English Ivy plant in a hanging basket to avoid its trailing vines from climbing and potentially damaging your home's walls.


Benefits of English Ivy Plant


Great Medicinal Plant


Hedera helix extract is potent against inflammation and arthritis. It also contains antioxidants and has antiallergic and antispasmodic properties. It can also reduce cough and found useful in asthma, allergies, and bronchitis.


English ivy is applied to the skin to treat burns, infection, joint pain, swelling, and nerve pain. Consumption of its extract improves lung function and herbalists use to cure respiratory ailments like bronchitis and asthma.


Improves Air-Quality


English ivy is one of the best air-purifying plants, which is proven in many studies. it can remove VOCs like benzene, toluene, octane, and trichloroethylene. It is a great plant to improve respiratory health, especially for people who are suffering from allergies and asthma.


Helps in Removing Molds


English ivy can reduce particles of fecal matter and mold. These are the common green and black spots found in the damp corners and pipes in the basement of homes. It can be quite dangerous for people suffering from mold allergies.


Humidifies Indoor Air


Hedera helix has one of the highest transpiration rates, which immensely boosts the humidity levels of a small room. It also reduces carbon monoxide from the indoor air. You can grow an ivy plant in a hanging planter and improve the quality of the air you breathe.


A Low-Care Plant


English ivy is not demanding in nature and can adapt to any soil type. It also withstands low light conditions very well and you can also trim it to the desired shape to fit wherever you want it to!


A late Season Source of Nectars for the Bees


Come Autumn and the outdoor ivy plant will produce yellow flowers, rich in nectar. At the time when most of the other flowers don’t bloom, ivy comes as a source of food for bees and other beneficial insects.


Nature’s Shelter


As ivy grows dense, it offers a safe shelter to many birds and animal species, helping them to nest and hibernate. It is also a great plant to invite birds to your garden to make nests.


Helps in Maintaining Privacy


As the plant is a vigorous grower and achieves a dense form in no time, it can be a great natural alternative to create privacy. Grow it near a spot you want to cover and soon you’ll have nature’s curtain guarding your privacy.


Hides Ugly Walls and Fences


Its dense cluster of leaves will cover all the ugly walls and broken fence in no time.


Uses

  • The leaves are sometimes used to make extracts for medicine.

  • It may help to purify the air.

  • Use as building facade green.

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