Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 176 Hedera helix

Common Names: English ivy Family: Araliaceae (ginseng Family)

English ivy


Actually classified as a high climbing shrub, English ivy is considered by everybody - except taxonomists - to be a clinging vine with aerial rootlets to anchor it! There are many leaf forms, most of which have 3 to 5 lobes. Leaves may be widely different shades of green or have striking yellow or white variegation (the variety ‘Green Arrow’ is pictured). Quite old, mature ivy makes flowering shoots whose leaves are not lobed at all but oval. Flowers are small and inconspicuous, followed by black berries that are poisonous.


Native to Europe; now naturalized throughout the globe, except for the tropics.


Although Hedera is quite adaptable, it grows fastest and thrives best in rich, moist soil, which can be either acid or alkaline. Somewhat salt tolerant, too. Ivy does like good air circulation and drainage to avoid fungus. Light: Part sun to shade. Moisture: Average to moist. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Cuttings, layering, grafting. Roots by itself anywhere vine touches the ground.


As a ground cover beneath large trees, to cover bald spots where grass won’t grow, and to grow over arbors, trellises, fences, and up tree trunks, ivy is hard to beat. The clinging root-like structures allow it to grow up perfectly flat walls as well. As topiary forms are ever more popular, it is now used a great deal to do ivy rings, globes, heart shapes, and almost any shape that can be defined by a wire! Because it roots easily in water, it is one of the longest lasting elements of greenery in floral arrangements. Also because it is slow to wilt and usually in plentiful supply, it’s ideal to cut for fresh greenery swags.


This plant is extremely long lived, which might account for its depiction in art and legend throughout the ages. It is also known for its versatility.

Steve Christman 06/07/97; updated 5/06/06

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Hedera species profiled on Floridata:

Hedera canariensis

( Algerian ivy )

Hedera helix

( English ivy )

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