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What Are the Types of Ivy Plants?

Ivy plant

Ivy plants are not just for Christmas.

They are versatile, beautiful, beneficial plants that can transform your garden, home, or landscape.

Plus, they can reduce indoor air pollution by up to 58%.

In this article, you will discover the most common and popular types of ivy plants and how to care for them. You will also learn why ivy plants are good for your health, environment, and wildlife.

What Are Ivy Plants?

Ivy plants are evergreen climbing or trailing plants belonging to the Hedera genus.

They are characterized by their woody stems, aerial roots, and glossy leaves.

Ivy plants have small flowers and fruits, but they are mainly grown for their attractive foliage.

Ivy plants are very adaptable and can grow in various conditions and environments.

They can cover walls, fences, trees, rocks, and pots with green foliage. They can also tolerate sun or shade, dry or moist soil, and hot or cold temperatures.

Benefits of Ivy Plants

Ivy plants are not only decorative but also beneficial.

They can:

  • Purify the air by removing toxins and pollutants.
  • Stabilize the soil by preventing erosion and improving drainage.
  • Attract wildlife by providing food and shelter for birds, insects, and mammals.
Beware of the Itchy Ivy!

Some ivy plants have chemicals that can irritate your skin or trigger allergies. If you are prone to rashes or itching, avoid them or use gloves when pruning or planting them.

How Many Types of Ivy Plants Are There?

About 15 species of ivy plants are in the genus Hedera, but many more cultivars and hybrids have been developed over time.

The most widely grown ivy plants are derived from six species:

  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica)
  • Persian ivy (Hedera colchica)
  • Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis)
  • Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
  • Japanese ivy (Hedera rhombea)

Cultivars and hybrids differ from their parent species in leaf shape, size, color, and variegation.

For example, the English ivy cultivar ‘Goldchild’ has gold and green variegated leaves, while the ‘Buttercup’ cultivar has bright yellow leaves.

Some cultivars, like ‘Needlepoint’ and ‘Pittsburgh,’ have finely dissected leaves, while others, like ‘Eva,’ have large, heart-shaped leaves.

These variations make ivy plants a diverse and exciting choice for gardeners and landscape designers.

Common Types of Ivy Plants

If you are looking for the perfect ivy plant for your garden or landscape, here is a detailed guide to some of the most common and popular types.

Type #1: English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English ivy

English Ivy is a popular evergreen vine known for its classic and elegant appearance.

This versatile plant is a great choice for gardeners and landscapers who want to home greenery to their walls, fences, and trellises.

Here are some key features of this type of ivy:

  • Common name: English Ivy.
  • Botanical name: Hedera helix.
  • Origin: Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.
  • Appearance: Small, lobed leaves that grow in a dense, bushy manner.
  • Growth habit: Climbing or trailing vine.
  • Preferred growing conditions: Partial to full shade, moist soil, and cooler temperatures.
  • Uses and benefits: ideal for covering walls, fences, trellises, or arbors; can also be grown in pots, baskets, or containers; provides food and shelter for birds and insects; purifies the air by removing toxins.

Type #2: Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)

Hedera hibernica 'Maculata'
Source: Wikimedia

Irish Ivy is a robust and hardy plant often used as a ground cover or accent plant in gardens and landscapes.

This type of ivy has a distinctive appearance and can add a touch of sophistication to any outdoor space.

Here are some key features of this plant:

  • Common name: Irish Ivy.
  • Botanical name: Hedera hibernica.
  • Origin: Ireland, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean.
  • Appearance: Larger, glossy leaves with a darker green color than English ivy.
  • Growth habit: Climbing or trailing vine.
  • Preferred growing conditions: Partial to full shade, well-draining soil, and regular watering.
  • Potential problems and pests: Spider mites, scale insects, bacterial leaf spots, and fungal leaf spots.
  • Uses and benefits: Similar to English ivy, but more suitable for colder climates; provides food and shelter for birds and insects; purifies the air by removing toxins.

Type #3: Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)

Hedere colchica
Source: Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Persian Ivy is a fast-growing and low-maintenance plant ideal for creating a lush and tropical look in your garden or landscape.

This type of ivy has large, glossy leaves that provide shade and privacy.

Here are some key features of this plant:

  • Common name: Persian Ivy.
  • Botanical name: Hedera colchica.
  • Origin: Western Asia and the Caucasus region.
  • Appearance: Large, glossy leaves with a distinctive shape and texture.
  • Growth habit: Climbing or trailing vine.
  • Preferred growing conditions: Partial to full shade, well-draining soil, and regular watering.
  • Potential problems and pests: Spider mites, scale insects, bacterial leaf spots, and fungal leaf spots.
  • Uses and benefits: Ideal for covering walls, fences, trellises, or arbors; can also be grown in pots, baskets, or containers; provides food and shelter for birds and insects; purifies the air by removing toxins.

Type #4: Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis)

Hedera canariensis Gomera
Source: Wikimedia

Algerian Ivy is a vigorous and hardy plant that can grow quickly and cover large areas in a short amount of time.

This type of ivy is often used for landscaping and commercial projects due to its low maintenance and durability.

Here are some key features of this plant:

  • Common name: Algerian Ivy.
  • Botanical name: Hedera canariensis.
  • Origin: Canary Islands, North Africa, and the western Mediterranean.
  • Appearance: Large, leathery leaves with a distinctively lobed shape.
  • Growth habit: Climbing or trailing vine.
  • Preferred growing conditions: Partial to full shade, well-draining soil, and regular watering.
  • Potential problems and pests: Spider mites, scale insects, bacterial leaf spots, and fungal leaf spots.
  • Uses and benefits: erosion control and ornamental value; purifies the air by removing toxins.

Type #5: Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)

Plectranthus verticillatus
Source: Wikimedia

Swedish ivy is not a true ivy but a member of the mint family.

It is a small, trailing plant often grown indoors or in hanging baskets.

Here are some key features of this plant:

  • Common name: Swedish ivy.
  • Botanical name: Plectranthus verticillatus.
  • Origin and distribution: Native to South Africa.
  • Description: Small, trailing plant with soft, round leaves often variegated in shades of green, white, and pink. It can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and 24 inches (60 cm) wide.
  • Preferred growing conditions and care tips: Requires bright, indirect light and moist, well-drained soil. Can tolerate some dryness but avoid overwatering. Propagate by stem cuttings.
  • Potential problems and pests: Susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. Watch for signs of leaf drop or discoloration.
  • Uses and benefits: Often grown indoors or in hanging baskets for its attractive foliage. Easy to care for and propagate.

Conclusion

You have learned about the types of ivy plants and how to grow and care for them.

Ivy plants are versatile, beautiful, beneficial plants that enhance your garden, home, or landscape.

However, they can also be invasive and damage structures or trees if not controlled.

Therefore, you should always choose the right type of ivy plant for your needs and preferences and prune and monitor it regularly.

You should also check the local regulations and restrictions before planting ivy plants in your area.

Happy gardening!

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