Newest Review: ... a bad thing as I have seen on numerous occasions the plant becomes out of control. Ivy has totally constricted and killed a large tree in o... more
Ivy the Wallflower!
Member Name: Aspen
Date: 21/04/01, updated on 21/04/01 (1565 review reads)
Advantages: Versatile, grows absolutely anywhere.
Disadvantages: Gets a bit out of hand if neglected.
Poor old Ivy. The old girl’s got her name up there, in the Garden section, under “Climbing Plants”. But she’s been totally ignored.
Is she taken for granted? Is she just “there”? Does no-one ever notice?
Poor Ivy is the wallflower at the gardening hootenanny. Always in the background, hugging a wall, waiting and hoping to be discovered.
Well, tonight’s Ivy’s night. Always the sucker for a sob story, Aspen goes steaming in to rescue poor Ivy from life on the shelf.
The genus Hedera is not confined to that dull green pointy-leaved climber which blocks your guttering and invades your roof-space. True, they are all climbers. True, given the chance, they will all clog your guttering. But variegations abound, with creams, silvers and golds conspiring to produce a decorative disguise for that unsightly fence or crumbling wall. Nor are they confined to growing upwards. Ivy will make an excellent ground cover, too.
Let’s look firstly at some of the misconceptions surrounding much-maligned Ivy.
The most familiar incarnation of this grand old lady is climbing up your wall. In common with only a very few climbers, Ivy needs no support. And it is this self-clinging ability which has given Ivy a bad press. Yes, she will produce aerial roots which will penetrate the mortar of your joints. But only if your joints are already in a state of decay.
Debunking of Myth One. – Ivy will not damage a sound wall. Ivy will only accelerate damage to a decaying wall.
And, yes, Ivy will curl around your guttering and penetrate your roof tiles.
Debunking of Myth Two. – Ivy will only knacker your guttering and roof if she has nowhere else to go. Half an hour’s pruning is all it takes to avoid half a year’s salary spent on redoing the roof. Don’t blame Ivy, blame the gardener’s neglect!
Another familiar sight
is Ivy scrambling her way up and through a tree. Whoa!! Ivy kills trees! Hack her down! Burn her!
Debunking of Myth Three. – Yes, Ivy is bad for young trees. Ivy grows vigorously once established, and can indeed strangle an immature tree. But a mature tree can cope perfectly well with being clasped to Ivy’s bosom. The two are perfectly compatible.
In addition to the above, Ivy will happily hide and ugly fence or wall. It will do so all year round, without complaint, being evergreen. But Ivy is also very suitable as ground cover, and much underused in this respect. She’s a rampant old girl, so best not used in a confined space. But if you have a big garden, or perhaps an unsightly bank or piece of waste ground, plant some shrubs with Ivy underneath. She will quickly cover the bare ground, and smother weeds in the process. Her tendency to climb will have to be curbed of course. But she can easily be kept out of the shrubs with a few judicious snips.
The smaller varieties are excellent additions to hanging baskets and tubs. The greens and golds and creams make a lovely foil for the summer bedding.
Hedera helix Goldheart. This one has small leaves with gold centres.
Hedera colchica Dentata Variegata. Light green leaves with broad creamy margins.
Hedera helix Buttercup. The leaves are pale green in shade, but turn bright yellow in full sun.
Hedera helix Glymii. Leaves are a glossy dark green, but turn a deep reddish-purple in colder weather.
Hedera rhombea. A bit unusual, in that the leaves are unlobed, and is not immediately recognisable as an ivy.
Ivy grows anywhere. I’m not going to bother with the cultivation bit here. Dry, wet, sunny, shady – Ivy doesn’t give a monkeys. Plant her anywhere, and she will grow.
And propagation? There are few plants easier. Break a bit off
, shove it in soil or compost, and it will root. Simple as that. Plants for free.
Ivy is an accommodating old girl. She tries to please. Don’t leave her ignored and unloved.