English ivy, also known as Hedera helix, is native to the temperate regions of Europe and southwestern Asia. A creeping evergreen vine often grown as ground cover or allowed to climb, the vine thrives in shady areas of the garden. Hardy in zones 5 through 9, English ivy adapts well to growing conditions in most of the United States. As a ground cover, the vine reaches 6 to 8 inches high. The plant reaches heights of up to 50 feet, however, when allowed to climb walls or trellises. English ivy requires regular care and pruning to prevent invasive growth.
Plant English ivy during mid-spring in a location that receives partial to deep shade. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic compost to the planting site and use a garden hoe to incorporate it into the soil to increase fertility. Space additional English ivy plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
Water once every five days during the first three months of growth. Reduce watering thereafter to once per week, except during periods of extreme heat or drought. Increase watering to twice per week when temperatures rise above 90 degrees F or when two weeks have passed with no natural rainfall.
Fertilize twice per year, once in early spring and again in mid-summer, using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Apply at the rate recommended by the manufacturer for the best results. Water immediately after applying to release the nutrients into the soil.
Provide a support structure, such as a fence, wall or trellis, for English ivy to climb to prevent it from becoming invasive. Tie the vines to the structure using twine to initiate climbing. Remove the twine once the ivy has a firm grip on the structure.
Prune English ivy once per year during spring to prevent pests, such as rodents, slugs or snails from infesting the foliage and to keep it from growing rampant. Use hedge shears to cut back the vines by about 2/3 of their total length to initiate new, thick growth.