English Ivy is an Easy Container Plant

By Dr. William C. Welch
Professor and Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

English Ivy (Hedera helix) is a popular ground cover for shaded Texas gardens, but is also useful and attractive when grown in containers. A native of Europe and Asia, English ivy is an evergreen, woody vine available in many forms including variegated green and white foliage. “Needle Point” types have more pointed leaves. Leaf size also varies considerably. Dwarf foliage types are generally the best choices for use in containers.

English ivy is tolerant of a range in moisture conditions from very dry to fairly moist. When grown in containers it does well in commercial potting media. I find some of these mixes to be a little on the heavy side and like to add about 1/3 sharp sand or calcined clay.

English Ivy
(Hedera helix)

Since they are vines, English ivy lends itself quite well to training into topiaries of various shapes. They are also useful simply as pots containing several individual plants as shown in the photograph. Occasional pruning keeps the plants compact and attractive. Mid-winter is an excellent time to take and root cuttings of English ivies. The plant in the photograph is a result of five individual cuttings stuck directly into the pot and placed in a shady area of the garden for about a month. Take four to six inch tip cuttings and remove the leaves from the lower third of the cutting. Using a pencil or similar dibble stick form holes in the media before inserting the cuttings and firming the media around each one. The application of rooting hormones will increase success with the cuttings but is not necessary. Water every two or three days as needed to keep the media uniformly moist during the rooting period. English ivies prefer shaded areas and can become scorched in hot, sunny exposures. A real advantage to having some pots of these plants is that they are quite cold hardy and do not need to be taken indoors during winter. They also thrive in brightly lit areas inside the home.

This article appeared in Horticulture Update - January-February 2001, edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

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