Large family of hardy and evergreen climbers with a wide range of foliage shape and colour. They can be used for ground cover, to climb supports and trail from hanging baskets or window boxes.

Suitable site and soil. A sunny site is best for variegated ivy but plain ivies do well in shade or sun. Any soil.

Cultivation and care. Plant new ivy from autumn to spring. Keep in bounds by pruning in spring and summer. Cut out green shoots that have reverted on variegated forms.

Propagation Take cuttings in summer. For bushy forms take them from tree ivies and for climbers from juvenile runners. Plant them round the rim of a pot in a peat and sand mixture. Enclose in polythene until roots formed and grow on in pots until ready to transplant.

Recommended varieties. For ground cover in shade, common ivy H. helix is best. For ground cover, fences and walls, use large yellow-green leafed H. colchica ‘Dentata Variegata’. H. helix ‘Buttercup’ with all yellow leaf and ‘Gold-heart’ with yellow heart in summer and purple veining in winter bring all-year colour.

Pests and diseases. Resistant to most pests and disease but red spider mite affects wall ivies, producing yellow spotting on leaves. Scale insects deposit sooty mould on leaves and suck sap of young shoots. In autumnal wet conditions ivy leaf spot may develop causing leaf collapse.


Use variegated or plain ivy to grow in a spiral or cone shape. Train ivy up the wire frame, winding it in and pruning into the shape as it grows.

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