A Brief Introduction
Ivy plants are native to Japan, Korea, China, the Himalayas, western Europe, Canary Islands and the Azores, and northern Africa. They are classified based on the plant leaves. Some ivy plants have five-pointed flat lobes. The heart-shaped ones, on the other hand, have triangular or heart-shaped leaves and three lobes. You can see pleated or ruffled leaves on curly ivies while narrow lobes on the bird’s foot ivies. Fan ivies own broad and various lobes of the same length and look like forward-facing fingers. They can even have fan-like leaves.
Hedera algeriensis, or the Algerian Ivy, is also known as the North African or Canary Island ivy. The plant does its best in zones 6-10. It has lobed, leathery, dark-green leaves that look highly glossy, and the hardy stems are tinged with red. These ivies prefer moist and rich soil. Compared to the English ivy, Algerian ivies are more tolerant toward the direct sun, even though both these plants are closely related. They are faster growers than other ivy plants and establish themselves quickly.
People love using these ivies in containers, hanging baskets, and groundcovers because of their hardy stems and beautiful foliage. As the plants are native to humidity and extreme sun exposure, they rarely perform well in cold or cool climates and can even die in such conditions.
The English Ivy is also known as the Hedera helix. It is a fast and vigorous growing plant that comes in two forms. One is the mature form with unlobed dark-green leaves and stems, which have little greenish-white flowers during autumn and dark berries with yellowish-orange flowers afterwards. The second form is juvenile with dark-green, loved leaves and stems without any flowers. These ivies are great for your garden in winters. They grow pretty big, up to 15 feet wide and 30 feet in height.
These perennial plants love partial to full shade and are deficient maintenance, hardy, and are resistant to rabbits and deer. They look lovely in groundcovers as well as hanging baskets. You can also use them to cover unattractive walls or fences.
The Goldchil ivy is a kind of English Ivy and winner of numerous international flower and plant awards. This plant has greenish-grey leaves with margins of vibrant gold. They are incredibly versatile and performs wonderfully as houseplants. You can also use them for covering a low wall and as groundcovers. They grow up to around three feet in height and have leaves that can grow two to three inches wide. They look very attractive and ornamental and hence, are very popular.
Gloire de Marengo
Gloire de Marengo is a type of Algerian Ivy which grows up to three feet in width and 20 feet in height. They have dark, luscious, heart-shaped leaves with a creamy-white trim. They can be four to five inches in width. These dramatic and colourful plants have won various international flower and plant awards. They are perfect for walls, slopes as well as trellises. Even though they are tolerant of droughts, they prefer partial shade or full sun along with well-drained soil.
Very similar to English Ivy, the Irish Ivy is also called Hedera hibernica. The Irish Ivy even shares identical growing habits and USDA zone with the English Ivy. They look so similar that people often get confused between the two. In some regions, this plant is actually considered to be an invasive or noxious plant. Not only that, it is even regarded as a nuisance plant by some cities. These plants are eliminated whenever they are spotted in the public lands of these cities. However, homeowners love this plant and are planted quite often as they grow pretty hardily and are low-maintenance.
Ivalace is a type of English ivy with shiny, dark leaves that only grow up to one inch in width. Every leaf has a curvy edge and looks pretty unique among other ivies. They grow four feet in width and three feet in height. Their leaves are cupped and lacy in appearance. They grow fast and make a stunning houseplant. You can also use them in little topiaries or as groundcovers. The Ivalace plant needs shelter from dry or cold winds but can do well in partial shade or full sun, as well as well-drained but wet soils.
As the name suggests, this plant is native to Japan. The Japanese Ivy is also known as the Boston Ivy or Hedera rhombea. Warm weather is the best for the growth of this plant which is suited in 8 and 9 zones. The Algerian Ivy is more strenuous in comparison to the Japanese Ivy, and the latter can grow 12 feet in height in maturity. The heart-shaped lobed leaves and purplish stems have streaks and blotches of white. It looks striking on the shiny dark green leaves. These are climbers who bear purple fruits that turn purple and red in autumn. You can spot these plants climbing on the walls and also outside buildings and homes. Thanks to its colour, the Japanese Ivy also makes for a great ground cover.
This is also a type of English Ivy and has small leaves clustered close together. The dark green leaves look very ornamental with the pointed lobes and are usually found as clinging vines on stone walls or in hanging baskets. It can grow up to three feet tall and look brilliant in containers, too, as they are eye-catching and decorative.
Also called Hedera nepalensis, this plant also goes by the name of Himalayan Ivy. It performs excellently in 7 to 10 zones and prefers the morning sun, partial shade, or moist soil. Their diamond-shaped leaves are glossy in texture and look like they sag slightly over the stems. The Nepalese Ivy grows up to 10 feet in width and 10 feet in height. Their bright green leaves are elongated and have whitish marking all across them. These are evergreen plants that produce yellow flowers and are extremely low maintenance.
Hedera colchica or the Persian Ivy is native to the Near East. They grow best in 6-9 zones even though they also grow in zone 10 sometimes. This happens only when they are protected against the direct sun. Sometimes, it is also referred to as “the bullock’s heart” ivy due to its leaves’ shape. This plant is more tolerant of the hot sun than the other ivies. These plants can even withstand dry soils occasionally and survive. They can grow up to 10 to 40 feet in height and six feet wide. Their leaves are heart-shaped and are the largest among all the ivies.
They usually grow around 4 to 10 inches in length. Generally, they are solid coloured and have a little mottled appearance. The leaves can also have a creamy white border which makes them look unique among all the ivies.
Hedera pastuchovii or the Russian Ivy is also known as the Iranian Ivy. Marketed as perennial plants, they do well in zone 7 and higher. Numerous versions of these plants can even survive in zone 5 if mulch is added to make the soil warmer. If you are planting it further north, regard it as an annual for making it successful. These ivies like the partial sun to partial shade and have medium watering needs. They are also excellent climbers with small flowers of cream or white colour. If they are handled too much, people may get allergic reactions or skin irritation from these flowers.
Also called Plectranthus australis, the Swedish Ivy does best in 10 and 11 zones. They prefer well-drained soil, partial shade, and the soil needs to be high on humus. These Ivy stand out as they have bright green leaves with erect stems. This also makes them perfect border plants and groundcovers. If you want to have an ivy plant that climbs high, do not go for this one. However, this plant does possess trailing vines that can reach a height of two to three feet. Due to these traits, it does better outside in borders and hanging baskets or as houseplants. You can also use them around your patios and decks. (See 38 Types of Guppies and Facts about Them)
Best Climbing Ivies
Ivies are the best for dressing up your vertical places such as a wall, trellis, or an arbour. As they are low-maintenance and tolerant, ivy plants can be enjoyed for a long time as climbers. Hedera canariensis or the Algerian ivies can grow up to 30 feet long and are hardy. They do well in 7b and 8 zones. Parthenocissus tricuspidata or the Boston ivy plants do wonders in 4 to 8 zones and can be 50 feet tall.
Hedera colchica or the Bullock’ heart ivies come in an array of varieties. They can be 40 feet high and are great in 6 to 9 zones. Hedera helix or the English ivy does best in 4 to 9 zones and can grow 80 feet tall.
The English Ivy is the most common ivy plant that is grown indoors. It comes in a plethora of varieties, and its leaves are also of various colours, size, and shapes. Usually, indoor ivies are categorized on the basis of the size and shape of the leaves. You can grow them indoors as well as outdoors. They can have fan-shaped leaves that are ruffled, frilled, lance-shaped or even flat. Their colours vary from light green to a deeper solid green. It can also have hues of creamy white, silver, or yellow.
The needlepoint ivies are a miniature version of the indoor ivies with small bird’s foot leaves. This variety is called Curly Locks and has massive, curled leaves on its body. The classic ivies are leafed and made op round-tipped leaves with three lobes. The bird’s foot leaves have deep lobes and pointed leaves. The duck foot ivies have vast, slightly lobed leaves with rounded tips.
Mostly, ivies are pretty low maintenance and need a little more than occasional trimming to avoid them overtaking a garden. However, there are certain varieties that are regarded as invasive in a certain region. Also called Delairea odorata, the German or Cape Ivy can grow wild at the entire California coast in the forests. You can find them in scrublands, oak forests, grasslands, and wetlands. When a region gets dry due to irregular rainfall, these ivies die but can soon revive after the return of rains.
Additionally, the English ivies are not just ornamental or groundcover plants; they can turn invasive fast if their growth goes out of control. In fact, over 28 states have classified the ivies as invasive as they can actually end up discouraging the development of several other important plants. This is because of the tendency of Ivy to overwhelm a region.
The Growth Habits of Ivy
When grown indoors, the ivy plants can trail over baskets and climb the little trellis. It can even grow in different forms as topiaries. However, when left alone, most of the ivies end up growing limitlessly, so much so that the vines get extended in every direction, even intertwining sometimes. Hence, if you want to grow indoor ivies, prune and trim them regularly to stop them from looking sloppy or getting out of hand. Iviies have small leaves that grow slowly and look fantastic in little baskets or containers. Ivies with big leaves usually grow fast and are great for the more giant hanging baskets.
Ivies are also known for adhering to whatever area they are growing. Because of their suckers, the small rootlets can grip surfaces like wood, stone, or even concrete. When the ivies are allowed to trail, the rootlets automatically start developing and growing in the soil. It helps in keeping the vines in their place for some time.
If you are looking for an ivy plant for your house, make your final choice based on the size of leaves, outdoor or indoor use, and if you want them climbing on a trellis, as groundcovers, or in hanging baskets. Hedera colchia or Persian Ivy and Hedera canariensis or Algerian Ivy are extremely fast growers. They have massive leaves which can grow up to eight inches in height. These fast-growing plants usually adapt better to the outdoors. They can also climb quickly to cover an unattractive trellis, surface, or wall.
Hedera hibernica or the Deltoidea species of Irish Ivy has dark-green, leathery leaves that perform great as outdoor plants. Hedera rhombea, or the Japanese Ivy, has vines that can form mats and are wonderful groundcovers. Hedera nepalensis or the Nepal ivy has leaves that are lean and have a lacy effect. They are best in hanging baskets.
The Perfect Temperatures
Most ivies growing in the United States perform best in 5-10 zones even though caution is advised in zones below 7 as the leaves have chances of dying when the temperatures get under the freezing point. Most ivy plants are evergreen in regions that have mild or warm winters. It is because the plant’s growth decreases slightly during winters but revives in the next spring. Keep these things in your mind while picking an ivy plant for your space. It would also help you to determine which type of Ivy would be the best for you.
The Active Parts of an Ivy
An ivy plant has two primary active parts: the fruits and the leaves. Only some ivies have fruits, and they usually sprout in autumn. These fruits are toxic due to the high hederine content in them. What makes them all the more dangerous is their expectorant, spasmolytic and hemolytic qualities. Fortunately, there are very low chances of anyone accidentally enough of these fruits to be fatal as they are very bitter and unpleasant in taste. The second active part, the leaves, comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours.
The Main Components
The main components of ivy plants are acids, estrogen hormones, quercetin, rutin, and saponins. The acids include formic acid, malic acid, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid. The estrogen hormones are unidentified and are found primarily in the leaves. Quercetin is an ingredient known for relieving pain from many ailments, including arthritis. A natural antibiotic with wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, quercetin can also alleviate high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It has also shown to aid in asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and bad breath.
Rutin is a flavonoid that can combat bacterial infections, allergies, and even herpes. It also protects the liver from several ailments, prevents certain kinds of cancer, thins the blood, decreases the chance of a stroke, and helps in ailments like hypertension and circulatory issues. Saponins, when consumed in a large dose, can be harmful to one’s health. It can lead to bleeding, stomach pain, vomiting, ulcers, dizziness, and even more.
Medicinal Properties of Ivy Plants
Did you know that ivy plants are not only gorgeous but have a lot of medicinal benefits as well? Extracted ivy leaves are often used as medicines because of their anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, anti-tumour, and anti-viral properties. They also help in oxygen exchange as they increase the production as well as secretion of the liquid film. They can also help in bronchitis and COPD and reduce allergies.
They also loosen the mucus, letting it exit our bodies more quickly. They are also known for modulating enzymes for the protection of our bodies. Ivy plants can also purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and toluene. They can even eliminate toxins from the human body while strengthening and tightening the blood vessels. They relax our airway muscles too.
Things to Keep in Mind
When you are picking an ivy plant for its medicinal properties, you need to be extremely cautious. Never ingest the plant as a medicine; just use its extract. It should not be used on animals or very young kids. Also, never bring home an ivy plant if there is a pregnant or nursing mother around. Always consult a qualified physician before using it. If you are using essential oil of the Ivy, always dilute it before use. Never restrict your knowledge. Keep reading and researching about the medicinal uses and benefits of ivy plants to get additional facts and details. This is recommended before you use any plant for medicinal purposes. (See Types of Aesthetics)
Other Properties and Purposes
Boston ivy is the perfect plant to hang on your wall as its suckers never damage whatever surface they are climbing on. However, always keep an eye if your wall has a painted surface. Also, Boston ivy is not an evergreen plant, so it drops its leaves in autumn and can turn into beautiful colours. However, gardeners love it as they are great climbers and look brilliant on walls. You should not go for an English ivy if you are looking for climbers. It does not perform as wonderful as the Boston ivy.
Always keep in mind the size of the Boston ivy, the weather and climate best suited to them, and the direction in which the wall faces. All these factors will influence your decision of choosing the right Ivy for your walls.
Additional Benefits of Owning an Ivy
Ivy plants work as an incredible attraction for birds as they can feed on harmful and pest-like bugs and insects. If you love peaceful environs, ivies will also provide you insulation from the outside noises. They also give protection from the scorching heat during summers and make for terrific decorative items for your fences, gates, and railings. As most of the ivies are low-maintenance, they will not even take much of your time and keep your space purified, aesthetically pleasing, healthy, and noise-free.
Types of Ivy Plants and Facts
What are the Different Types Of Ivy Plants? There are several types of Ivy, including Swedish Ivy, English Ivy, and Devil’s Ivy (Pothos).