This article provides an overview of ivy plants, including their types, characteristics, and maintenance needs. If you’re looking for an interesting plant to add to your garden, consider giving Ivy a try!
If you’re a fan of greenery, then you’ll love ivy plants. Known for their attractive vines and leaves, ivy plants make perfect additions to any garden. These types of plants are a common sight in homes and gardens, but many people don’t know much about them. These plants can be found in various types and are identified under numerous species. Are you wondering what kind of ivy is growing on your walls? Or contemplating whether it is an ivy at all?
What is an Ivy Plant?
Ivy is scientifically called the Hedera helix. It is a fragrant plant that thrives both indoors and out. These plants can withstand a wide range of climates depending on the type, the most common of which is the English Ivy. Ivy thrives in places where other plants don’t, making it a hassle-free plant; it is elegant and delicate and can be found nearly anywhere.
Ivies are a favorite of gardeners and plant lovers alike for their beautiful leaves and fast growth. They are a type of evergreen that can be either woody or herbaceous. It is a popular choice for indoor plants because they are easy to care for and can add a touch of greenery to any space. These plants have simple leaves and grow in trailing or climbing forms.
Ivy plants are often used for ground cover, as a wall climber, or even as a houseplant. In the fall, they produce beautiful berries that are enjoyed by birds and other wildlife. They are native to Europe, while certain varieties can be found in Asia as well. Ivy is one of those low-maintenance houseplants that flourishes on neglect as much as with care.
Now that you are well acquainted with what ivies are, let’s get into some of the interesting ways these plants can prove to be useful for you:
Uses of Ivy Plants
- Ivy is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways to add interest to your landscape. While it is often used as a ground cover, it can also be trained to grow up walls or trellises. They are particularly well suited for areas where other plants have difficulty taking root. It can quickly form mats under shrubs and trees and grow in narrow spaces where nothing else will take root.
- Ivy is also an excellent plant for adding color and texture to your landscape. The leaves are glossy and come in a range of colors, from deep green to variegated shades of green and white. They are a low-maintenance plant that is relatively drought tolerant once it is established. With proper care, it will thrive in your landscape for many years to come.
- Ivy plants are also very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you can use them to cover an unsightly wall or as decoration in a hanging basket, or in topiary form. If you want to add some color to your indoor space, you can also find ivy plants that have variegated leaves. Whatever way you choose to use Ivy in your home, it is sure to add a touch of beauty and life.
Although Ivy as a plant does not require a lot of care, there is a certain issue that can arise with a few types of ivies:
Problems with Ivy
Ivy is a beautiful plant that can add some visual interest to your home, and there is not one doubt about that. However, some types of ivy, such as English Ivy, can be quite aggressive and even damaging. The vines of these plants have aerial rootlets that attach to surfaces like buildings and trees. Over time, these rootlets can damage the surfaces they’re attached to and can even reduce the vigor of the living things they’re attached to. If you’re considering planting Ivy, be sure to do your research - we hope this article would be enough, though and you should choose a variety that’s appropriate for your climate and won’t cause any damage.
Characteristics and Identification of an Ivy Plant
For a detailed understanding of these plants, below mentioned are a few of their distinctive characteristics:
- Ivy plants are a type of vine that is known for their fast growth and ability to climb. They have small, heart-shaped leaves and produce clusters of white or green flowers.
- These plants are found in many different climates, but they prefer moist, shady conditions.
- Ivy can be used as a ground cover or as ornamental plants. They can also be used to cover walls or fences.
- The plants require very little maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soil types. However, they can become invasive if they are not kept under control.
- The growth habit of these types of plants can be distinguished into two types - Juvenile and Adult.
- In the Juvenile stage, the leaves are tiny, fuzzy, and often contain lobes. The plant speedily grows and develops aerial roots from its stems, which it uses to firmly attach itself to its support at this stage. While in the adult stage. The plant produces larger and oval-shaped leaves.
- Getting into its environmental characteristics, Ivy prefers soil with plenty of moisture and nutrients to grow well.
Identification of an Ivy Plant
Ivy plants are generally identified by the shape and size of their leaves. They have lobed, alternate growth patterns that depend on which variety you’re looking at.
Ivy plants are a familiar sight in many gardens, but did you know that there are actually several different types of ivy? Now that you have a brief insight about ivies and their characteristics, let’s quickly jump into the different types of ivy plants:
Various Types of Ivies
Scientific name: Hedera helix 'Ivalace'
Ivalace Hedera is a low-maintenance plant with attractive, dark green leaves that create an elegant lacy appearance. This evergreen climber only gets to 1 m (3’) in height, but it’s perfect for small gardens because its flowers aren’t too showy, and they don’t mess up your view of the sky! These plants are the perfect addition to any garden, regardless of where you plan on placing them.
They can be grown in a pot or as an indoor plant and only require regular watering to keep their leaves green. This particular species of ivy is extremely easy to care for and will tolerate most locations and soil conditions. It only needs to be pruned if you want the plant smaller than its original space. If you are looking for a perfect houseplant that isn’t over the top, this one is the perfect pick.
Scientific name: Hedera helix
English Ivy is a common sight in many gardens, but this hardy plant can also be grown indoors. It is an evergreen vine that can produce small white or yellow flowers. However, the flowers are not the main attraction of this plant; instead, it is the glossy green leaves that make English Ivy so popular. The leaves can vary in shape, but they are usually broad and heart-shaped.
It can spread at least 15 feet broad and 20 cm (8”) tall if grown horizontally. This, in general, is a fast-growing plant, so it is important to prune it regularly to prevent the plant from taking over. English Ivy is also relatively drought-tolerant, making it a low-maintenance choice for busy gardeners. Whether you choose to grow it indoors or out, it is sure to add a touch of elegance to your home.
Irish Ivy Plant
Scientific name: Hedera hibernica
Irish Ivy is a tough plant, growing outdoors even in colder climates. It has become invasive and should only be planted with care- assure yourself that you know how to prune this exotic vine back regularly, or it will take over your yard. The stems of an Irish Ivy can easily grow up to 30 m (98’) long and are usually 30 cm (11”) thick. The texture of the leaves is thick and has a waxy layer that feels leathery to the touch.
While both English Ivy and Irish Ivy tend to look almost identical, there's one difference between them. The leaves on the Irish version seem larger than those from the English one. The veins running up its stems also have a light green color rather than white, which gives it an entirely different appearance when compared to the latter.
Scientific name: Hedera nepalensis
Himalayan Ivy is a species of evergreen ivy that is native to Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, and Bhutan. It is a fast-growing vine that can reach up to 9 m (30’) in length. The leaves are large and heart-shaped, and they are dark green in color with silver-gray veins. The flowers are small and greenish-white, and they are produced in clusters.
Himalayan Ivy is an invasive species in many parts of the world, and it is often used as a groundcover or ornamental plant. It can be difficult to control once it becomes established, and it can quickly smother other plants if left unchecked. This specific Ivy is also known for its ability to withstand freezing temperatures, making it an appropriate choice for gardens in colder climates.
Variegated English Ivy ‘Gold Child’
Scientific name: Hedera helix ‘Goldchild’
The Goldchild Ivy is a stunning variation of the common English Ivy plant. It is characterized by its large, glossy leaves, which are variegated with patches of creamy yellow and rich green. This fast-growing plant is easy to care for, and it makes an excellent addition to any garden or home. The Hedera helix ‘Goldchild’ is tolerant of both shade and sun, and it can thrive in a variety of soil types.
This versatile plant can be used as a groundcover, climbing vine, or hanging basket. With its beautiful foliage and easy care requirements, this one makes for an ideal plant for both beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Goldchild Ivy has a long history of cultural and metaphorical value as a symbol of love and friendship. They were also supposed to be capable of shielding people from bad luck and evil spirits. As a result, these plants appear in numerous royal crests and seals.
Scientific name: Hedera canariensis
Algerian Ivy is a versatile evergreen vine that is native to North Africa and the Canary Islands. Also known as Canary Island Ivy, or North African Ivy, is a member of the Araliaceae family, which consists of over 1500 species of herbaceous plants. It is an ideal plant for warm-weather climates and can be used as a ground cover, hedge, or climbing vine.
The thick, glossy leaves of Algerian Ivy are dark green in color and can reach up to 6 inches in length. These are fast-growing and relatively easy to care for, making them a popular choice for both gardeners and landscapers. The fact that these ivy plants are evergreen is one of their most appealing characteristics, as they will be able to produce great bursts of green in your yard all year. Plus, they make tiny black drupes, which are berry-like fruits, when the bloom is finished.
Scientific name: Hedera colchica
Persian Ivy has lovely, big, dense, leathery leaves that make a rich groundcover and is a wonderful substitute for grass in gloomy locations. It is a beautiful vine that can add interest and color to any garden. This fall-blooming species has white flowers that are very popular with pollinating bees.
It is a hardy plant that can thrive in all seasons. However, it grows best in slightly acidic potting soil, but it will do well in most types of potting soil. When it comes to fast-growing vines, few plants can match the speed of the Persian Ivy. In just a few short years, this hardy ivy can easily cover an area 1 m (6’) wide, and on a vertical structure, it can reach a height of 4 m (15’) or more. Given its rapid growth rate, this ivy is often used to cover unsightly fences, sloping hillsides, and trellises.
Scientific name: Hedera rhombea
The Japanese Ivy, also known as Songak, is an ivy species native to East Asia that belongs to the Araliaceae family. It grows on rocky slopes and up tree trunks, particularly in laurel forests, which are a form of the cloud forest. The white veins running through the dark green leaves of Japanese ivy vines make it an eye-catching plant. While this type can grow tall, it’s not as likely to climb higher than other plants in its family that do have climbing abilities, such as Irish Ivy, for example!
The expected size of these ivies can range from 2 to 3 m (6’ to 9’). The Japanese Ivy is a unique plant with purplish stems and glossy leaves. These plants often produce clumps of yellowish-green flowers that turn into tiny berries, making them an excellent choice for beginner gardeners!
Persian Ivy Sulphur Heart
Scientific name: Hedera colchica
The intriguing Sulphur Heart is a variegated ivy appreciated for its evergreen foliage of pale green illuminated with yellow in the middle and ease to cultivate. It’s equipped with crampons that allow it alone atop something like support, making this plant perfect for both climbing within your home and outside on fences where you need some extra stability!
This type of Persian Ivy has bright gold and lime green splashes that will make any shady wall come alive. Sulphur Heart Ivy is a strong, dense vine with an evergreen habit of growth and will grow to reach about 9 m (30’) tall with a 0.91 m (3’) spread. The plant has a medium growth rate and can be anticipated to live for about 30 years under optimal conditions. Additionally, It can be used to create balance in your landscape and will require some maintenance from time to time - but nothing too significant!
Scientific name: Parthenocissus tricuspidata
The Boston Ivy is not considered a real ivy because it does not belong to the Hedera genus, but you'll often see it fulfilling the same purpose. It’s called Boston Ivy since it may be found on many of the city’s structures. This plant, which is widely found in East African locations, is actually a member of the grape family named Vitaceae. This climbing plant is known for its colorful changing of colors, unlike the true ivies. It starts out green in the summertime to yellow and then brownish red at fall’s end.
It is a perennial woody vine that can reach a height of 30 m (98’). Few plants are as ideal as Boston Ivy for a climbing vine that hangs to nearly everything and withstands both shaded and sunny situations. The leaves of this plant are palmately lobed with three lobes. The size can vary from 5 to 22 cm (1” to 8”).
Scientific name: Hedera canariensis
Canary Ivy is a common evergreen ornamental plant with huge glossy leaves that bring richness to the yard. It’s a hardy plant that forms a lush ground cover and can also be utilized to drape over retaining walls. This type of ivy is generally a fast-growing, evergreen vine and is native to the Canary Islands. It has large, leathery leaves that are dark green in color and deeply lobed. Canarian Ivy can grow up to 20 to 30 m (65’ to 98’) in length and spreads quickly via underground runners.
It climbs by clinging to the substrate with aerial rootlets. The plant develops and establishes itself more quickly in warm climates. Interestingly, it is unique to the Canary Islands, where this type of ivy can be found in abundance, particularly in the Barbusano Laurel Forest.
Scientific name: Plectranthus verticillatus
Swedish Ivy is a beautiful trailing plant that is native to Australia and the Pacific Islands. The plant gets its common name, "Swedish Ivy", from the fact that it is often used as a houseplant in Sweden. Additionally, it is also known by the names Swedish Begonia and Creeping Charlie. The plant has aromatic glossy spherical leaves that grow to a height of 10 to 30 cm (3” to 11”) with a spread of roughly 60 cm (23”) and features attractive variegated leaves in hues of green, white, and purple.
The leaves are succulent and spherical between 64 to 90 mm (2” to 3.5”), with hairy underparts and scarlet sessile glands, and are widely toothed. This type of ivy makes for perfect hanging baskets, containers, and groundcovers.
Scientific name: Hedera helix ‘Needlepoint’
Needlepoint Ivy is a type of English Ivy that is grown as an ornamental plant. It is a member of the genus Hedera, which includes all the other types of English Ivy. The reason it is called Needlepoint is that its leaves are very small and pointy. It is an evergreen vine that can grow up to 90 cm (35”) tall, and its leaves are dark green in color.
This type of ivy is also very resistant to diseases and pests. It is hardy and relatively drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for gardeners in dry climates. Needlepoint can be used as a ground cover in places where other plants won’t grow, including under trees or on slopes. It will grow on most surfaces, so use it on walls and pergola, as well as indoors as a decorative plant.
Scientific name: Fallopia baldschuanica
This ivy plant is native to Russian regions, as indicated by its name, although it can also be found in Armenia and Iran. Russian Ivy is an invasive plant that grows quickly to form a woody stem, like Japanese Knotweed. The two plants are members of the same family called Polygonaceae and can be found all over North America as well as Europe.
It develops bronze-colored heart-shaped leaves when they first appear and slowly turn green. In late summer/early fall, many spikes of tiny white funnel-shaped blooms appear. Tiny pink fruits follow the flowers. Although commonly grown for aesthetics, this plant may quickly become invasive, with stems reaching up to 10 m (32’) in length. If cultivated in poor, dry soil, growth may be limited, but be careful where you put it because it spreads quickly.
With so many types of ivy plants, it is only natural to get a tiny bit confused as to which one will serve your purpose. Hence, here we will cover the types of ivy appropriate indoors or out, so you know which one is best suited to your needs.
Top Ivy Plants for Indoors
Hybrid ivies are a great choice if you’re looking for plants that don’t mind being indoors. They grow quickly and can tolerate just about any soil type, making them perfect as an office plant or one at home.
The Hedera helix cultivars, also known as English Ivy, are the most popular indoor ivy. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the greatest ivy houseplants:
- Manda’s Crested
Top Ivy Plants for Outdoors
Without a doubt, outdoor ivies are an excellent choice for hiding ugly features and providing shade in the yard. So, which ivy varieties are ideal for your garden? Here are a few examples of excellent climbers:
- Irish Ivy
- English Ivy
- Algerian Ivy
Caring Guide for Indoor and Outdoor Ivies
- Ivy plants can tolerate some sun exposure if it’s not too hot or dry out for its liking - just make sure you provide shade in hotter climates.
- The various color patterns seem more vibrant when grown under optimum conditions. So give them all the right care according to their needs before they turn solid green. Not getting optimal light can lead to lackluster growth.
- Indoor ivies require lots of natural light but should not be exposed to direct sun. If you don’t give variegated ivies adequate light, they may lose their colors.
- It’s also a good idea to wash the ivy leaves every now and then to remove any dust.
- Keep your outdoor ivy under control and encourage healthy development by pruning it back every three years or so.
The most important thing about caring is to keep your ivies looking good? Be attentive; pay attention to even small details like watering properly rather than assuming anything. If the leaves begin to brown or wilt, that’s a sign that something is wrong. Take action accordingly, and your plants will be all the better for it.