Although sacred to the god Dionysus (also known as Bacchus in Rome), and reflected by the druids in a Christmas carol titled “The Holly and the Ivy,” where the ivy plant represented the divinity of women, the ivy plant’s effects have been felt throughout ancient cultures. It’s just annoying it is an invasive species of plant that still causes problems today as it has covered Europe over the centuries.
Botanically known as evergreen perennials, and classified as woody vines, English Ivy Plants are essentially ground covers, growing out in the horizontal. It can reach a height of up to eight inches, and they are climbers thanks to their aerial rootlets. With this ability to climb, they can reach heights of fifty feet, though they can exceed that. English Ivy Plants do bear flowers, but these are seen as insignificant. No, they are usually grown for their evergreen leaves, leading to their classification of foliage plants.
Basic Facts about the English Ivy plant
- Name – Their botanical name is Hedera helix, though they are also referred to as the English Ivy Plant, the European ivy, and the common ivy.
- Type of plant – The English Ivy Plant is a perennial, and an evergreen climbing vine plant.
- Size when it reaches its maturity – It can reach between six and eight inches in height, spreading up to fifteen feet or more.
- Environment preferences – The English Ivy plant prefers fertile and moist soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. The plant also prefers a sun exposure between a partial and full shade.
- Flowers – The flowers can either be a greenish-white in color or a greenish yellow.
- Native places of growth – The English Ivy Plant is commonly found in Europe, though some examples can be found in Scandinavian countries, and in Russia.
How to Grow English Ivy Plants
The rapid growth of English Ivy plants makes them particularly useful as ground covers so they fill in places in your garden which are particularly hard to fill. They are extremely aggressive growers, making them useful against erosion on hillsides. They’re extremely adaptable – gardeners can grow these plants in containers, baskets and its trailing vines can hang loosely, or they can be planted. True, they will need to be protected from winter winds and from the scorching sun, so ideally the plants need to be planted.
- Light – English Ivy Plants grow best in conditions between partial shade and full shade exposures from the sun. It’s their ability to grow so well in the shade which makes them such a great plant for ground covering, and for planting under trees. The only downside to this is some species of grass will simply not grow there either, but this dense ivy growth makes it easier to crowd the weeds. Plant the ivy in organically rich soil in a shady spot, though you can amend it with compost before you plant it.
- Soil – English Ivy Plants grow best in a soil which is extremely well drained, but it is so adaptable and it will grow in soils which are considered to be poor, and it will also grow in soils which have a variety of pH levels though it does prefer a neutral to a slightly alkaline pH level. However, it does best grow in average loams.
- Water – If you are growing these plants, you should check out the soil before you begin adding water to the ivy. They prefer to be kept slightly dry, and the soil should be dry on the top before water should be added to it. The ivy plant needs to be planted in soil with excellent drainage, and so they shouldn’t be planted in soaked soil.
- Best temperatures – English ivy plants prefer a consistent temperature and they also prefer a humidity between medium and high levels to keep the leaves dark green, though they can thrive in temperatures of forty-five degrees Fahrenheit and eighty degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fertilizer – English Ivy plants should ideally be fed every two weeks with a basic houseplant food and they should be fertilized during the fall and in winter. Never fertilize the plant if they are under stress – if the leaves fall off if the plant is hot or cold.
Propagation of English Ivy
The English Ivy plant and other ivies grow rapidly from stem cuttings which can be easily transplanted elsewhere. The ivies trailing nature means trimming them is usually a good idea. If you wish to use these trailings to grow the ivy elsewhere, take trimmings of between four and five inches in length and place them in water. Wait until they are growing a network of roots, and then place them in potting soil.
Toxicity. English Ivy plants, like all ivies, are toxic. They are poisonous to dogs, cats, and humans, especially children. Some ivies contain triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylene compounds. When these are ingested they cause drooling in excessive quantities, vomiting and diarrhea.
How to care for English Ivy
Very little is actually needed to care for these plants besides planting them in rich soil and watering to keep said soil moist though this shouldn’t be continuous when the plants are fully established and thriving. They grow best in moist conditions and lots of it but remember they can also grow in dry conditions when they’re strong enough.
Rejuvenate the vines and discourage rodents running around by shearing off the tops in spring after the plants have grown out. Don’t use too much fertilizer unless you believe the plants need it – if the plants aren’t growing as much as you think they should. You can spray them with liquid fertilizer to encourage their growth, but make sure the fertilizer is half strength.