Ivy (Hedera) is a sturdy evergreen vine that grows well on trellises, and is also a good ground cover. Ivy is available in many varieties, ranging from classic English Ivy, which has lobed leaves, to Persian Ivy, which has round or heart-shaped leaves. Most varieties are cold hardy and all are invasive enough that they need to be well maintained to prevent damage to other plants. In general, ivy should be planted in full sun, except in hottest areas, and requires regular to moderate water.
The least cold-hardy of all ivies, Algerian ivy (H. canariensis) can survive to about 30 degrees F. This variety has lobed leaves that may reach 8 inches across and are glossy green. The variegated cultivar of this variety has yellow-white edging on the leaves.
English ivy (H. helix) is the most cold hardy ivy and can survive in climates that have freezing winters and snow. This ivy has dull, dark green lobed leaves that can reach 4 inches across. The leaves may have pale veins. The 'Baltica' cultivar has white-veined leaves that may age to purple in winter.
Persian ivy (H. colchica) is unique for its oval or heart-shaped leaves, which are the largest of all ivy varieties. Leaves may reach 7 inches in width and 10 inches in length and are a glossy green. Persian Ivy can survive in cold-winter climates, with the exception of the Northeast. The 'Dentata Variegata' cultivar has dark green, white and gray green marbled foliage while the 'Sulphur Heart' cultivar has gold in it.