English Ivy Plant Growth

Overview

English ivy (Hedera helix) is the most popular ivy grown in the United States, according to the University of Florida extension. It is commonly grown as indoor and outdoor landscaping. English ivy is an evergreen, woody, climbing vine, with simple leaves highly variable in shape and color depending on the cultivar and maturity stage.

Selected Cultivars

Hundreds of cultivars (cultivated varieties) of English ivy exist in the horticulture trade, with various leaf shapes, color and variegation patterns. Most English ivies sold are in the juvenile form, with its 3- to 5-inch leaves having three to five lobes, with the middle being the largest. Very old specimens of English ivy often convert to the mature form, with rounded leaves, thickened stems and inconspicuous white flowers. Ivies are arranged in classes according to their various leaf characteristics, such as birdsfoot, curlies, fans, heart-shaped, ivy-ivies (typical five-lobed), miniatures, oddities, and variegateds. Hundreds of available cultivars include Anne Marie, Shamrock, California Fan, Merian Beauty, Small Deal, and Jubilee.

Uses

Outdoors, English ivies are grown as ground covers, trained on walls and other structures, and used in window boxes and other planters where the vines spill over the containers. Ivies are also used as a plant material in constructing topiaries. Ivy vines add texture, color and pattern to the landscape. In the home, ivies are common foliage plants. Its cascading nature is perfect for hanging baskets and other applications where its trailing nature is desired. Indoor ivies are also suitable to mix with other houseplants, or as additions to interior trees.

Ivy Care Outdoors

English ivy cold hardiness ranges from USDA zone 4 to zone 8 and is highly dependent on the cultivar. Ivies grown outdoors prefer full sun to deep shade, and various acid or alkaline soils. Ivies prefer well-aerated, well-drained soil. Its roots will suffer in waterlogged conditions. English ivy will not grow in drought conditions and needs deep placement in the soil when transplanted to aid in strong root development. Periodic fertilization is beneficial and English ivy may need some pruning to keep it within desired bounds in the landscape.

Ivy Care Indoors

Indoor English ivies need placement in areas where they will not receive direct sun. Ivies grow successfully in medium to high, bright, filtered sunlight. Indoor ivies prefer moist to slightly moist soil and medium humidity levels. Monthly fertilization with liquid houseplant fertilizer or slow-release formulas will improve ivy growth, but excessive fertilization will harm the roots.

Problems

Diseases that can hinder English ivy growth include scale, sooty mold, and leaf spots. Insects affecting ivies include aphids, mites, whiteflies, Local county extension agents are a good source of information regarding identification and management of pests and diseases.

Keywords: English ivy, Growing ivy, Ivy cultivation

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."