Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

English Ivy

English Ivy
(Hedera helix)

I have a somewhat small patch of English Ivy (Hedera helix) growing along the south side of the house originally planted to hide a gas line. I'm taking several clippings of this plant to our new house. This versatile evergreen ivy can be grown as a houseplant or outdoors. When grown outdoors, English Ivy can be used as a maintenance free ground cover, climbing vine or in a hanging basket. It can climb as high as fifty feet, attaching itself to wood and brick via aerial rootlets. English Ivy provides summer shading when grown as a climber on the south side of the house and when grown on lattice can create privacy screening. The climbing nature of English Ivy makes this an ideal plant for hiding unattractive but necessary pipes on the outside of houses. It can mask an ugly wall with its beautiful greenery. This ivy grows well in shady making it ideal for problem areas like under trees. The vigorous and dense growth pattern of English Ivy also make this plant ideal for weed and erosion control. The plant also does well in sunny locations. With all the benefits English Ivy offers, what are the negatives and why do some people want to rid their properties of this plant?

What some people consider beneficial plants others view them as weeds. So it is with English Ivy. This plant is listed by Oregon and Washington (cultivars: Baltica', 'Pittsburgh', 'Star') as a noxious weed. It is considered aggressive, invasive and introduced species to North America. Concerns regarding this ivy as indicated by No Ivy League are that this plant results in monocultures that provide no habitats for indigenous wildlife. However, I do not agree with this opinion. When grown as a ground cover, English Ivy provides cover and habitats for small rodents, toads, frogs and snakes. More than one a toad or snake has scurried out of my little patch. When grown as a climber, English Ivy provides a safe haven for smaller birds. If you watch a patch of this ivy grown up the side of a house, it isn't long before smaller birds like the House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) are seen flitting in and out of the ivy. This bird originated in the southern US and Mexico making it indigenous to North America. It has since spreed throughout the United States and southern parts of Canada. Their nests are about three and a half inches in diameter easily making English Ivy an ideal spot for nesting. The berries provide food for birds as well. English Ivy also provides a habitat for insects including beneficial insects for the garden.

Since English Ivy can become a habitat for rodents, insects and snakes some precaution should be taken when using this plant as a climber on the outside of a house. While it does look very pretty covering a wall and softening the window edges, it's best to be sure you have good screening to prevent insects from getting indoors. You may also have to spray for spider and mosquito control something that when growing organically as I do is avoided unless absolutely necessary and then on non-edible plants only. To prevent problems with rodents keep the ivy trimmed at the bottom, effectively removing the rodent habitat. One further problem with English Ivy grown on a house is the aerial roots attach to the wood siding or brick. Removal of the vine leaves marks on either. It can present problems on brick walls with loose mortar can be seriously damaged by English Ivy as well.

English Ivy despite it's problem can be a beneficial plant. The invasive nature of English Ivy can be kept in check by pruning. The berries are poisonous for humans so be sure to keep an eye on children around this plant. It should not be planted in areas where the invasiveness could cause problems or climbing nature can cause problems. English Ivy should be pruned to prevent leaf spot. Mites can be controlled using insecticidal soap. Other than these problems, English Ivy is rather problem free.

English Ivy is easily propagated by cuttings. Simply cut an end piece about four or five inches long then place the cut end in water. New roots will appear in a few days ready for planting either indoors or outdoors. A mature English Ivy plant produces berries that birds eat thus spreading the seeds for new plants or you could plant the seeds yourself.

I will be planting my English Ivy both inside and outside. The new house is bricked so I doubt my husband will want it planted as a climber even though it would give the front of the house (facing away from the water) a cute, English cottage appearance. I plan to use it outdoors in hanging baskets and possibly as ground cover depending on what I find in the gardens when we get moved in. For now the English Ivy cuttings are happily forming roots in a container of water.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


  1. Hi this is some beautiful stuff you've posted here.

    Found you via a friend who I found on the random blog button so just thought I'd say hi while I was passing.

    (I bet I've been here before! Usually when I say "hi, you don't know me ..." I actually have ...)

    It struck me the other day just how small a world the "blogosphere" actually is. Always if I go hopping through someone's comments or links within about 6 hops I'm back to seeing at least one person I know. If not much beforehand ...

    If you want to come by my place you're most welcome: I'm at gledwood2.blogspot

    See you later hopefully

    All the best to you


    "vol 2" ...

  2. Hello from a blog explosion surfer.

    I've always loved ivy but never knew anything about it. Now I know! Thanks for sharing your wealth of information :)

    (awesome blog altogether, btw)

  3. Gledwood, thank-you for your lovely compliment. It is indeed a small blogosphere much like in real life. I'll check out your blog as well. Take care.

  4. xeen, hello to a fellow blog explosion surfer and thank-you for you lovely compliment! I'm glad my post on English Ivy was helpful. I think it is quite pretty and we do have a lot of it used as ground cover in our new house. Since it is close enough to climb the brick, my husband clipped any starting to climb. We also discovered a couple of rodents but that is to be expected with waterfront property. I don't anticipate any problems as long as we keep both the climbing nature of the ivy and the rodents under control.

  5. I agree completely.

    I am looking into playing Johnny appleseed with this stuff on my property. And all I can find are hate articles.

    Any tips on transplanting this stuff?

    Or any idea where I can get some seeds?


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