Hedera (Ivy)

Grow as a ground cover, climber, or potted plant

The genus Hedera contains evergreen woody vines, commonly called ivy, grown as ground covers, potted plants, or climbing ornamentals. The perennial vines grow and spread rapidly and climb by aerial roots when a vertical structure is available. The attractive leaves are shaped like hearts, fans, or bird’s feet. They have a curly or lobed form and are often variegated. When exposed to sun, the vines produce small, nectar-rich flowers followed by berries, or drupes, which sustain birds in winter.

Hedera is a genus of about 15 species. The most common ornamental species is H. helix (English ivy, common ivy, branching ivy). Other varieties of horticultural importance include H. algeriensis (Algerian ivy), H. canariensis (Canary Island ivy, Coney Island ivy, Madeira ivy), and H. colchica (Persian ivy).

Ivies adapt to most soil types and grow best in partly shaded to shaded areas, but many grow well in full sun. They are especially useful for erosion control on slopes or hills and for filling in shady areas where grass will not grow. However, some ivies are aggressively invasive and should be contained in the garden. They are especially nice in hanging baskets, indoors or out.