English Ivy – Hedera helix

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English Ivy – Hedera helix

Common Name: English Ivy

Botanical Name: Hedera helix, HED-er-a HEE-lix

Decorative Life: Months to years.


Harvest Instructions:

Make sure plants are not shipped with red spider mites, as controlling them at the consumer level can be difficult at best.

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Araliaceae (aralia or ginseng family).
  • Native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.
  • Common relatives include aralia, false aralia, ginseng and Fatsia.
  • 3-5 lobed leaves occur along vining, flexible stems.
  • Plant is an evergreen vine, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Because there are so many cultivars and forms, the American Ivy Society (www.ivy.org) has actually established a classification system. For example and as explained by this society, in addition to the English ivy there are a number of other species of true ivy. The best known are: Hedera colchica, which has a form, ‘Dentata’, that is widely used as a groundcover in hardiness zone 5 and southward. Hedera canariensis, the Algerian or Canary ivy, sometimes known as Hedera algeriensis, it also comes in a variegated form called ‘Gloire de Marengo’. Hedera rhombea, the Japanese ivy, is native to Japan. Hedera nepalensis, the Nepal ivy, is found in the Himalayas, Afghanistan and western China. Hedera pastuchovii, (Russian Ivy), is an Asiatic species native to the Caucasus Mts. near the Black Sea.
Storage Specifics:

Best temperature is 33-35F but even does well if transported/stored for 21 days or less at 60F. Cuttings of many types can be stored for weeks at 31F.

  • Hedera: classical name of ivy. In ancient Greece, the plant was called “cissos” after the nymph who danced herself to death for Dionysus, the god of wine. Moved by her performance, he turned her body into the ivy, which joyfully entwines and embraces everything near it.
  • Even today, ivy is placed over doors of taverns and wine shops in dedication to Dionysus.
  • Many cultivars are available with different leaf forms and variegation. Leaf forms include heart-shaped, wavy, crested, curled, cupped and ruffled. Two examples are ‘Silver Lace’ and ‘Gold Child’, both noted for their variegated foliage.
  • Leaf colors range from the usual dark green to white, cream, yellow or pink or in various combinations. Will generally grow well in light levels bright enough to read a newspaper in comfort. However, some variegated cultivars may revert back to all green leaf forms after being held under less than desirable interior environments.
  • Common landscape ground cover.