Different Types of Ivy with Pictures and Care Tips

Ivy is an iconic climbing or creeping evergreen vine that will be familiar to many gardeners. Once they start climbing, ivies can quickly carpet a wall with gorgeous green leaves. Ivies are fantastic structural plants and are also extremely beneficial for wildlife. In this article, we’ll explore ten popular types of ivy and how to grow them in your garden.

About Ivy

Types of true ivy belong to the Hedera genus, which is part of the Araliaceae family. These evergreen woody vines are native throughout Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. They have also become naturalized in Australia and North America, where some species may be considered invasive.

Ivy naturally grows as ground cover but can also climb up trees, buildings, and other structures. They produce masses of green heart-shaped or arrow-shaped leaves, which may be glossy or variegated. Ivy plants also have unusual yellow-green, nectar-rich flowers from fall to early winter, followed by black or dark purple berries.

Juvenile ivies and mature ivies are noticeably different. Young ivy plants produce climbing shoots to find surfaces to cling onto using aerial roots on the stems. After approximately ten years, the plant matures and produces shrubby foliage, flowers, and berries.

Ivy plants also have potent meanings and symbolism. Many cultures associate ivy with protection and an ability to ward off evil spirits. Ivy may also represent friendship, love, devotion, and eternal life.



1. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Native Range:Throughout Europe and parts of western Asia
USDA Zones:4 to 13
Light Preferences:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Can grow in most well-draining soils
Fertilizing:Once a month during the growing season

About:

English ivy (Hedera helix) is the quintessential type of ivy and is a prolific climbing vine with glossy green lobed leaves with light green veins. However, English ivy is listed as invasive in some areas of North America.

This type of ivy is a powerhouse for wildlife, providing nectar for insects and food and nesting sites for birds. English ivy can also be grown in pots or as a houseplant.

Growing English ivy on an outside wall can even act as natural insulation. The ivy can preserve warmth in winter while keeping your home cool in summer. When given the correct type of climbing support, English ivy can climb up to 100 feet high.


2. Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)

Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)
Native Range:Near and Middle East
USDA Zones:6 to 9
Light Preferences:Full sun to full shade
Soil:Rich, well-draining, slightly alkaline soils
Fertilizing:Monthly during the growing season

About:

Persian ivy (Hedera colchica) is one of the fastest-growing types of ivy. Native to parts of the Middle East, this type of ivy can climb up to 100 feet high if given a suitable structure. Juvenile leaves are dark green with five lobes, while mature leaves are heart-shaped.

Persian ivy is also extremely long-lived, with some specimens recorded to be approximately 400 years old. This ivy produces umbels of bulbous green flowers from late summer until late fall, followed by black berries. Due to its vigorous growth, prune Persian ivy regularly to keep it in check.


3. Canary Ivy (Hedera canariensis)

Canary Ivy (Hedera canariensis)
Native Range:Canary Islands
USDA Zones:7 to 9
Light Preferences:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Well-draining, slightly alkaline soils
Fertilizing:Monthly during the growing season

About:

Canary ivy (Hedera canariensis) is native to the Canary Islands and can climb up to 100 feet tall. The leathery green leaves have five lobes when juvenile and can grow up to 8 inches wide. The juvenile stems have a slight tinge of red or purple but turn grayish-brown as they mature.

Canary ivy is another prolific species that can grow quickly, so it needs to be managed with regular pruning.


4. Algerian Ivy (Hedera algeriensis)

Algerian Ivy (Hedera algeriensis)
Native Range:Algeria and parts of North Africa
USDA Zones:7 to 11
Light Preferences:Partial sun to full shade
Soil:Well-draining, soils that can stay moist
Fertilizing:Monthly during the growing season

About:

Thanks to its gorgeous leaves, Algerian ivy (Hedera algeriensis) is one of the most attractive types of ivy. Algerian ivy leaves are glossy and can be dark green or variegated with reddish stems that can grow up to 40 feet long.

Algerian ivy can tolerate colder areas better than other types of ivy native to warm climates. It is also a bit more drought-tolerant than other ivy varieties.


5. Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)

Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)
Native Range:Atlantic parts of Europe
USDA Zones:5 to 10
Light Preferences:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Well-draining, slightly alkaline moist soils
Fertilizing:Monthly during the growing season

About:

Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) is a fast-growing species of ivy that is deemed invasive in some areas. This type of ivy is native to the Atlantic coastlines of Europe but has become naturalized in the United States.

Irish ivy has glossy green triangular leaves with slightly fainter pale green veins than English ivy. These woody vines can climb up to 100 feet high using aerial roots on the stems. Flowers emerge during the fall and are followed by bluish-black berries.


6. Japanese Ivy (Hedera rhombea)

Japanese Ivy (Hedera rhombea)
Native Range:Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan
USDA Zones:8 and 9
Light Preferences:Partial sun to full shade
Soil:Neutral, well-draining soils
Fertilizing:Once a month during the growing season

About:

Japanese ivy (Hedera rhombea) is native to parts of eastern Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and coastal regions of China and Taiwan. In its native habitat, Japanese ivy prefers rocky slopes and grows in cloud forests.

This ivy showcases glossy dark green leaves that are slightly diamond-shaped. Some varieties can also have white variegation. From mid-fall to early winter, Japanese ivy produces yellow-green flowers followed by round black berries.

Japanese ivy can climb up to 100 feet high if given a large enough surface. Keep this ivy in check throughout the year by pruning regularly.


7. German Ivy (Delairea odorata)

German Ivy (Delairea odorata)
Native Range:South Africa
USDA Zones:9 to 12
Light Preferences:Partial sun to partial shade
Soil:Loose, well-draining soils
Fertilizing:Monthly during the growing season

About:

Also known as Cape ivy, German ivy (Delairea odorata) isn’t a true ivy. Instead, it belongs to the aster or daisy family (Asteraceae). German ivy used to be part of the Senecio genus as Senecio mikanioides but has been renamed.

Although German ivy looks similar to English ivy, the two species are actually unrelated. This type of ivy has fleshy green lobed leaves that can be over 3 inches wide. German ivy also produces umbels of bright yellow flowers from winter until spring.

German ivy grows up to 13 feet high and is more manageable than true ivy. However, German ivy still grows reasonably quickly and can be considered invasive.


8. Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)

Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
Native Range:South Africa
USDA Zones:10 and 11
Light Preferences:Partial shade
Soil:Well-draining soils that remain slightly moist
Fertilizing:Once a month during the growing season

About:

Although known as Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus), this plant is not a true ivy. It isn’t related to the Hedera genus and instead belongs to the mint or sage family (Lamiaceae). Swedish ivy is also known as Swedish begonia.

This ivy produces slightly whorled glossy green leaves that have an aromatic scent. The leaves also have purple undersides covered in fine hairs. Swedish ivy grows up to 3 feet tall and can spread for approximately 2 feet.

Swedish ivy can also be grown as a houseplant. One famous specimen has resided in the Oval Office of the White House since the time of John F. Kennedy.


9. Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
Native Range:Japan, Korea, and China
USDA Zones:4 to 8
Light Preferences:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Well-draining soils, preferably loam
Fertilizing:Feed once in the spring

About:

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is not a true ivy and is unrelated to Hedera ivy. Instead, this ivy belongs to the grape family (Vitaceae). It grows in parts of eastern Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and parts of China.

Boston ivy can grow up to 100 feet tall unless kept in check. These deciduous woody vines have green leaves with 3 to 5 lobes. The leaves can look similar to those of true ivies, like English ivy. Unlike true ivies, which use aerial roots to climb, Boston ivy uses sticky pads to attach to surfaces like walls.


10. Glacier Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Glacier’)

Glacier Ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier')
Native Range:Throughout Europe and parts of western Asia
USDA Zones:4 to 9
Light Preferences:Full sun to partial shade
Soil:Can grow in most well-draining soils
Fertilizing:Once a month during the growing season

About:

Glacier ivy (Hedera helix ‘Glacier’) is a popular cultivar of English ivy (Hedera helix). This cultivar has cream or white variegation at the edges of its glossy green leaves. These leaves can have 3 to 5 lobes and retain the pale green veins of English ivy.

Glacier ivy is ideal for growing in hanging baskets, where the attractive foliage can droop over the edge. As a climbing plant, glacier ivy can grow up to 80 feet high if allowed to run rampant. Keep it in check with regular pruning throughout the year.


Growing Ivy in Your Garden – Essential Tips

Growing Ivy in Your Garden – Essential Tips

Where to Plant

Ivies can be grown in a wide range of locations and environments. Depending on the species, you may need to provide a sheltered spot. You can also grow ivy in pots or containers.

Plant them near a wall or a tree if you want them to climb. Climbing ivies like their roots to receive partial or full shade while the canopy receives full sun or partial shade. Most types of ivy also require well-draining soils that are either slightly alkaline or slightly acidic.

Staking and Support

Staking and Support

Most climbing ivies can support themselves using aerial roots on their stems. These tiny roots cling to trees and walls, anchoring the plant as it climbs. Provide a tree, wall, or trellis nearby to help your ivy climb.

If you’re growing ivy in pots, you can let the plant droop over the edge of the pot. Alternatively, you can provide a wireframe for them to climb. This also allows you to train ivies as topiary plants or hedges.

Soil and pH Considerations

Most ivies can grow in almost any well-draining soil if the medium retains some moisture. Some ivy species prefer alkaline soils, while others prefer slightly acidic soils. All ivies will struggle in waterlogged or highly acidic soils.

Loam is the best soil for ivy plants, but ivies can also grow in chalky, sandy, or clay soils. Ivies can tolerate poor soils but do best in soils that provide average nutrition. If you’re growing ivy as a houseplant, use loose, well-draining soils.

Light Considerations

Most ivies don’t have a specific preference regarding light conditions. Ivies can grow in partial sun to full shade. Provide bright, indirect, or filtered light if you’re growing ivy as a houseplant.

While some varieties like full sun, it can damage others if it becomes too intense. Wherever possible, provide more sun to the canopy while keeping the roots or trunk in the shade. Ivy also thrives as a ground cover plant in full shade underneath other plants.

Watering Requirements

Young ivy plants require consistently moist soil, so water whenever the top of the soil feels dry. Mature ivy plants are drought-tolerant and prefer slightly drier conditions. You shouldn’t need to water established ivy plants as long as you receive regular rainfall. If the weather is exceptionally hot and dry, water ivy plants if the top inch of soil feels dry.

Fertilizing

Ivy plants are prolific growers and shouldn’t need fertilizing if being grown in the ground. For ivies growing in pots or as houseplants, fertilize them approximately once a month during the growing season. Always use diluted liquid fertilizer to avoid burning or overwhelming the plant.

Common Pests and Diseases

Common Pests and Diseases

Ivies are fairly resistant to diseases and pests but can suffer from aphid, viburnum scale insects, or vine weevil infestations. Ivies can also be attacked by fungal diseases such as botrytis blight, Fusarium rot, or Phytophthora root rot. The leaves may also suffer from leaf spot diseases.

Toxicity

Ivies should always be handled with care because they are toxic to both people and pets if ingested. These plants are mildly poisonous and can cause stomach discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. Always wear gloves when handling or pruning ivy, as the sap from the stems can irritate your skin.

Pruning

Although ivies can be left to their own devices, regular pruning helps keep these prolific vines in check. Ivies can be an invasive species in some areas, so containing and managing them is vital. You can prune ivy at any time of year, removing unruly vines and keeping the plant neat. Mid-spring is the ideal time for pruning ivy.

End-of-Season Care

Most ivies are fairly hardy evergreen plants and will survive outside during the winter. Mulching around the base of the stem helps your ivy to stay warm and conserve moisture. Apply a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch before the first frost arrives.

If you’re growing ivy in a pot, you can bring the plant indoors if temperatures get too cold. Alternatively, you can keep the pot warm by wrapping some fleece around it.


Growing Ivy FAQs:

Is Ivy Easy to Grow?

Ivy vines are easy to grow because they thrive in a range of light and soil conditions. These plants can grow quickly even in average soils and can also be grown in pots or as houseplants.

Most ivies can grow in the sun or shade. Ivies prefer to have shade for their roots and sun for the upper part of the plant.

Ivy leaves can symbolize friendship, love, devotion, and eternal life. Ivy leaves are seen as a symbol of fidelity in marriage. In many cultures, ivy leaves were thought to protect people against evil spirits.

Ivy plants can grow up to a maximum of 27 inches a year, which means they spread very quickly. Ivy is classed as an invasive plant in many areas, particularly in parts of the United States.

Ivy plants can be grown in pots and are ideal for hanging baskets. You can also provide a wireframe for the plant to climb up within its pot. English ivy can also be grown as a houseplant.


Wrapping Up

Ivy plants are incredible, iconic evergreen vines that are prolific climbers. As long as they aren’t classed as invasive in your area, it’s easy to grow ivies in your garden. Ivy plants grow best when climbing up walls or trees. These vines thrive in various soil types and light conditions and can also be grown in pots or as houseplants.


Editorial Director | Full Bio | + posts

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

Author

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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