Hedera Ivy; frost-free; Europe and Canary Islands

The ivies are among the easiest of plants to care for given the right treatment and conditions, but they can be something of a problem if conditions are much too hot or much too wet. Hot and dry conditions can present a big problem in that plants will be very much more susceptible to attack from red spider mites, and these can reduce ivies to a dry and shrivelled mess in a very short space of time. There are no end of varieties to choose from, all of which will put up with cool and lightly shaded spots. H. canariensis ‘Variegata’, with its white and green variegation, the mottle-leaved ‘Maculata’ and ‘Gold leaf, which has large green leaves with pale yellow centres.

Being natural trailing plants, the smaller-leaved ivies H. helix are always much in demand for use in mixed arrangements. There are any number of ivies with green leaves, many of them very similar, but others are very distinct in their appearance, quite a few being cristated. Among the variegated small-leaved ones there are many real gems. ‘Little Diamond’ and ‘Adam’, both with grey and white variegated leaves, are two of the best, but there are many more that one may chance to find in shop, garden centre or nursery. All of them root readily in peaty mixture, and best results will be obtained if several cuttings rather than one are put in each pot. Cuttings of smaller-leaved ones should be about 8cm/3in in length, while large-leaved ones will require a piece of stem with two leaves attached.

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