House Plants – Hedera (Ivies)

There are several types of Ivy – German Ivy, Swedish Ivy, Ground Ivy etc. Here we are dealing with the ‘True’ Ivies plants which are all varieties of Hedera. These Ivies thoroughly deserve their good reputation as decorative plants, and have long been a basic feature of Pot Groups. As climbers they can quickly clothe bare surroundings, provided you choose a vigorous Hedera helix variety.The stems bear aerial roots which cling to wallpaper, woodwork etc. The larger leaved, slower growing Canary Island Ivy does not possess these clinging aerial roots, so adequate support is necessary.

Ivies are not only climbers. They are just as useful as trailers in hanging baskets or as ground cover plants between larger plants, and it is here that the smaller bushy varieties come into their own. Examples of suitable types are Eva, Glacier and Needlepoint Ivy.

Very popular and useful, but the Ivies do not deserve their reputation as easy plants. They flourished in the unheated rooms of yesterday, but they do suffer in the hot, dry air of the centrally heated homes of today. Regular misting of the leaves is necessary when the radiators are switched on in winter. Expect brown leaf tips of Ivies if you don’t.


Types of Ivies

The general form of Ivy needs no description – it is grown in homes throughout Europe and America. Less well-known, however, is the extent of the variations on the basic pattern. Nearly all the True Ivies are varieties of the Common or English Ivy (Hedera helix) which bears characteristically lobed leaves. A few of the popular varieties of the basic species (e.g. Chicago and Pittsburgh) are tipically 5-lobed, all-green and robust. But there are other varieties which range in leaf form from simple shields (scutifolia) to long-pointed stars (sagittaefolia). Edges are smooth or ruffled, and colours vary from simple green to complex mixtures of white, cream, grey, green and yellow.

SEE ALSO:   Poinsettia

Hedera Helix Glorie de Marengo

H. canariensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’

The largest-leaved Ivy is Hedera canariensis. The green-leaved species is not popular – the type seen everywhere is the variegated Glorie de Marengo. Most True Ivies can be grown as either climbers or trailers – for a compact ground cover choose a small-leaved variety and pinch out the growing tips 2 or 3 times each year.


How to make an Ivy Tree

Cut the side shoots from a specimen of Fatshedera lizei and stake the stem. When it has reached 3 ft high remove the top growth with a horizontal cut. Make crossed cuts on stem top.

hedera hedera helix-cover

Secrets of success

Temperature: Cool but frost-free. Ideally the room should be unheated in winter.

Light: Bright conditions in winter. Avoid direct sunlight in summer.

Water: Keep compost moist in summer by regular watering. In winter water sparingly, but never let the compost dry out.

hedera hanging-basket hedera1


Leaf edges brown and dry: Cause is too warm site. Look for red spider mite. Cut back bare stems. Move to a cooler site.

Leaves undersized. Bare spindly growth: Cause is too little light, although it is natural for mature leaves at stem base to drop with age. Cut back bare stems.

Leaves all green: Cause is too little light. Variegated types revert to all-green habit in shady conditions. Another possibility is the need for repotting.

Leaf tips brown and dry. Stuned growth: Caused by too dry air. Look for red spider mite. Remove dead growth. Mist leaves regularly.

hedera types

3 thoughts on “House Plants – Hedera (Ivies)”

    1. Possible cause is air too dry, so mist leaves regularly. You have to look for red spider mite because they can infest the underside of leaves if plant grows in hot and dry conditions.

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