Ivy is a climbing plant that is used for decoration in the landscape and may be used for cover to reduce soil erosion in sloping areas and open, fallow areas. Ivy plants are available in several varieties, including English ivy, Algerian ivy and Persian ivy.
Height and Spread
English ivy varieties spread as a creeping vine. It spreads along the ground at a height of 6 to 8 inches and will climb up to a height of 50 feet. Algerian ivy leaves are 5 to 8 inches wide and the plant spreads in the same manner as English ivy. Persian ivy leaves are 3 to 10 inches wide and spread to 10 inches.
Ivy is used in shady locations due to its ability to grow in low-light situations. Ivy is suitable for areas under trees where grasses will not grow. Ivy holds soil in place and covers roots, reducing erosion. Ivy is grown up walls for decoration. Ivy is also grown in hanging baskets and indoors in pots.
Ivy grows well in moist soils that have lots of organic material. Ivies prefer to grow in shady locations. Leaves will scorch in the sun. Plants are cloned using cuttings. Ivy spreads using aerial roots when not cultivated from cuttings. Plants are best placed 18 to 24 inches apart from each other to allow for good growing space. Ivy ground covers require a small amount of pruning around the edges of the growing area to reduce overgrowth. Pruning is required to keep ivy from growing over its intended area.
Poison ivy shares a similar appearance to other ivy species, but carries an oil that causes an allergic reaction. Poison ivy attaches itself to trees and grows along the ground using aerial roots. It has a compounded leaf that is smooth, waxy and serrated along the edge. Wear protective clothing when removing poison ivy, and oils persist for several months after removal.
Problems in Ivy
Fungal diseases are a problem in ivies, mainly due to their growth in shady, moist areas that fungi find suitable for growth as well. Leaf spot, gray mold and root rot are often a problem. Nematodes cause the stunting of ivy growth. Spider mites cause problems with ivy when the area is warm.