English Ivy in Texas
Many variants and named cultivars of English ivy (Hedera helix) exist today for Texas gardeners to grow as houseplants or a groundcover. Native to Europe, English ivy is a vigorous-growing vine that climbs upward upon supports or as a spreading matrix of stems lined with five-lobed leaves. This evergreen vine is hardy in all parts of Texas, including the winters, and grows best in soils that don't become too dry. Plant it in partially shaded to fully shaded areas since the Texas summer sun is hot and intense.
Texans choose to plant English ivy on their property as an alternative, low-maintenance option to turfgrass, especially in the dry, shady locations directly under large shade trees. The ivy also covers unattractive chain-link fences with its glossy green foliage and elongating stems. Stems also adhere to masonry, acting to cloak and add texture and visual interest to building facades constructed of stucco or brick.
According to the plant adaption map provided by Texas A&M University, English ivy is adaptable to most parts of Texas. In its Urban Landscape Guide, English ivy grows best "with some shade and irrigation."
English ivy plants are either male or female in gender, producing tiny, non-showy flowers in summertime. Only mature, well-established stems produce the flowers upon more upright, bushy branches. When pollinated, the female plants' flowers become black fruits that are eaten by a host of Texas songbirds. The nodes on branch vines will root into soil and continue growing to great lengths, potentially overtaking and choking sunlight from trees upon which they grow.
Once introduced into a garden, English ivy will spread aggressively. It multiplies and takes hold wherever its vines take root into bare soil or forest litter, and clippings and segments will root if not promptly removed as debris, according to the Texas Invasives Database. If the ivy matures and flowers to produce fruits, expect wildlife to scatter the ivy seeds in their droppings around the landscape.
If you desire a lush groundcover for your Texas garden, Texas Invasives Database lists several alternative vines that are native plants and will not become ecologically disruptive. Consult your local cooperative extension office for specific recommendations on these vines, as some are better suited to soils and climate in various parts of the Lone Star State. Choose from American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), passionflower vine (Passiflora lutea) or Dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla).