Dictionary of Flowers: Hedera

English Ivy (Hedera) looks great as an accent. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr

English Ivy (Hedera) looks great as an accent. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Serres Fortier and Flickr

  • Hedera
  • Common name: English ivy, common ivy
  • Family: Arialiaceae
  • Category: Perennial to USDA zone 5 
  • Height: 6" to 20'
  • Width: 12" to 36"
  • Sun/shade
  • Blooms: grown for foliage interest
  • Growth habit: creeping, trailing, climbing. Used as filler or spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, evenly moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, groundcover, houseplant, vine, rockery, 
  • Diseases: generally disease free
  • Pests: pest free

English ivy is a vigorous perennial vine or groundcover.

It is hardy to zone 5 and evergreen. The leaves can be green or variegated.

It is grown mainly as a ground cover to control erosion or as a climber, but dwarf varieties are also popular houseplants and outdoor container plants.

All parts of English ivy are poisonous, so keep plants away from children and pets. Some people are allergic to the sap; wearing gloves while pruning it is recommended.

English ivy spreads aggressively when grown on the ground. It is considered a noxious weed in some states. Check with your county extension agent or local nursery before planting ivy in the garden.

Ivy is easy to grow in fertile soil that is watered regularly when first planted. Once established, it becomes somewhat drought tolerant.

Applying mulch around the base of the plant helps maintain good moisture levels in plants growing on the ground. If grown in containers, water on a regular schedule.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

English ivy can grow in full sun, but in hot weather the leaves might become scorched. A part shade position is best to protect it from midday sun during hot summers.

Fertilizing is seldom needed. An application of slow release fertilizing granules in the spring is sufficient to keep ivy healthy. Overfertilizing can actually cause problems, making ivy more likely to get diseases.

Pruning might be necessary every few years on vining types of ivy. To encourage bushier growth on container grown plants, pinch the stem tips. 




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Ivy is available in nurseries as starter plants in spring. It is easy to propagate by stem cuttings about six inches long.

Remove all the leaves from the bottom half and place cuttings either in water or dip in rooting hormone and place in a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite. They should root in about four to six weeks.

Popular varieties:

  • Hedera helix 'Gold Dust' - small green leaves, marbled with creamy white. Good variety for containers.
  • Hedera helix 'Goldheart' - dark green leaves with yellow centers
  • Hedera helix 'Golden Curl' - bright green leaves with creamy white edges, ruffled
  • Hedera helix 'Teardrop' - heart shaped leaves with no lobes. Suitable for containers or houseplant
  • Hedera helix 'Minigreen' - 2013 ivy of the year award from the American Ivy Society

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Hedera (English Ivy) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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