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The Basics of Growing Ivy


Ivy is the perfect ground cover, climbing vine, and indoor container plant

When planning a landscape or adding to a houseplant collection, ivy makes a wonderful and carefree companion plant. It loves the shade of large trees and puts down enough deep and hearty roots to prevent soil erosion. They'll climb walls, train on trellises, and pour over the sides of hanging pots.

The many varieties are stunning in their differences. Leaf sizes range from a penny to a saucer with colors and shapes that will create a decorative array.

The Houseplants

Indoor ivy will generally be from the Hedera species. They're suited for individual pots or hanging baskets, but even more decorative when combined with taller plants to provide a leafy base. Some ivy lovers create wire topiaries and train ivies in specific shapes.

Popular H. species include Algerian, English, Japanese, and Persian. Within the English ivy group, especially, there are many hundreds from which to choose (such as Jubilee, Glacier, and Kolibri).

Indoor ivies do well in filtered bright light, but may fail with too little sun or too much direct heat. They like ambient temperatures on the cool side. Use any houseplant soil and water when the surface has dried to about one-half inch deep. While most plants can withstand some negligence, ivies are often beyond help when they have wilted.

When re-rooting cutlets, let them start in water. Remove to a perlite-filled pot and surround with water (to about halfway). Let it stand in the evaporating water for about two weeks before transferring to a soil mix.

The Outdoor Plants

It is important to choose the right ivy for each location and for its type of growth. Boston ivy, for instance is best enjoyed as a climbing vine. Be cautious with placement - it can destroy the mortar between bricks and will quickly overpower most structures. Train it across a gazebo instead.

The old, familiar English ivy does well outdoors as a creeper plant. It will love a shaded area and is forgiving in a range of water situations. In fact, most ivies will not do well under heat stress. Moderate to heavy shade is typically recommended.

When propagating, let a part of the vine root, then remove from the parent. Cuttings rarely survive.

When used as ground cover, remember that this can become a veritable refuge for critters, including slugs and mice. On a last note, even if it's not poison ivy, some individuals react to the sap. When pruning back any ivy wear gloves and protective clothing.


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Pittsburg, TX 75686
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