Ivy - Araliaceae - How to care for and grow Ivy plants



Who does not know the ivy to which so many myths and so many legends are linked? It is the one that for everyone represents the passion that pushes lovers to wrap each other up like ivy does on tree trunks, so much so that in India it is considered the symbol of lust.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Asteris











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The kind Hedera of the family of Apiaceae includes numerous evergreen species,climbing plants, much appreciated for their great decorative effect. They are plants that are found spontaneously almost everywhere in the temperate climate regions, clinging to walls, rocks, building facades, tree trunks or simply running along the ground forming a shiny and green carpet where the grass does not grow because the light is too dim.

Ivy plants are very rustic and easy to cultivate, resistant to the most diverse pedoclimatic conditions, which makes them very widespread. drums which produce very many roots adventitious areas that adhere without difficulty to the different surfaces thus allowing the plant to be able to live in the most disparate places. In the opposite part of the stem where the roots develop, the leaves, provided with a long petiole.

At the top of the plant, usually in the brighter areas, branches without roots are formed instead adventitious areas (which are the ones that must be used when making cuttings), with whole leaves with wavy margins on which the flowers and therefore the fruits are produced .

The leaves can have different shapes and sizes depending on the species and variety but also depending on the conditions that live in the plant. In fact, in the ederasi it speaks of foliar dimorphism as the leaves that remain in the shade maintain a lobed shape while those exposed to light or found on the flowering branches are whole.

THE flowers, gathered in umbrella-like inflorescences, are yellowish in color and i fruits, reminiscent of peas, are dark purple or black berries, sometimes yellow and rarely reddish, fleshy and many bird appetites.

Generally they are plants that live well outdoors but there are species and varieties selected to adapt to apartment life, raised in suspended baskets or anchored to trellises or supports of various kinds.


There are 15 species in the genus Hedera each of which with numerous varieties between which we remember:


L'Hedera helix it is the most widespread species and it is the common ivy that we see on the streets of our cities, very fast growing that can reach 30 m in height.It is characterized by intense green leaves, often shiny with silver spots along the veins. they ripen in autumn and the berries ripen the following year, flowering, around April and May. In fact, in ivy, flowering and fruiting occur in different years.

The peculiarity of this species is that an infinite number of hybrids have been created, adapted to different pedoclimatic situations, both for indoor and outdoor living (home or garden) which differ from each other in the size, shape, color and mottling of the leaves.


L'Hedera nepalensis or Hedera himalaicais a species native to Southeast Asia that in its places of origin grows between 1000-3000 m above sea level They are plants that can grow up to 30 m in height characterized by simple leaves no longer than 15 cm in length and produce flowers yellow in color.

Note 1


L'Hedera canariensis is a species native to the Canaries and North Africa and is characterized by leathery, lobed leaves with the color that varies according to the season: in summer they take on an intense green color while during the winter they become a delightful green-brown with light streaks up to some completely white leaf.It is not a particularly rustic species as it does not tolerate frost except for very short periods and does not like too hot places and does not tolerate direct sun.In addition, younger plants have difficulty in branching and are devoid of roots and that they grow only with the maturity of the plant, at the lignification of the stem.

There are many varieties on the market that differ in the color of the leaves and stems. It is known there'Hedera canariensis variegata with leaves mottled with white.


The species Hedera colchica is a plant native to Iran. It has very large leaves, the largest of the genus, up to 25 cm long and up to 20 cm wide, oval, heart-shaped, of a very intense green color.It is a very vigorous and rustic species.Numerous varieties exist on the market, among which we mention : Hedera colchicadentata characterized by thin leaves with a toothed margin and a very dark green color tinged with red; Variegated hedera colchica with light green leaves and cream margins.


The species Hedera crisocarpa it is characterized by golden yellow fruits. It is not very common in Italy.


Ivy is a very easy plant to grow that does not require special precautions.

The optimal cultivation temperatures for the summer period are between 15-18 ° C while the minimum winter temperatures should not drop below 7 ° C. In any case, if summer temperatures rise above these values, it is necessary to guarantee the plant a humid environment.

They are plants that require good lighting even if this depends a lot on the species of ivy: those with dark green leaves can withstand even the darkest environments while those with mottled leaves need more lighting. certain exposure to direct sunlight, not in the hottest hours of the day.

Once a month the plant will benefit from a good shower in order to clean the leaves. Remember to protect the soil in the pot with a plastic sheet to avoid soaking the soil.


The ivy should be watered regularly letting the soil dry on the surface between one watering and another.

If the ambient temperatures are particularly high and the environment is dry, it is advisable to help the plant with frequent nebulizations to the foliage.


The ivy is repotted every two - three years, in spring, using a slightly larger pot than the previous one. A good fertile soil is used to which coarse sand will be added to favor the drainage of irrigation water. In years in which repotting is not carried out, it is advisable to renew the first 5 cm of soil with fresh soil.


The fertilizations are carried out every two weeks, starting from spring and throughout the summer, diluting the fertilizer in the watering water and halving the doses compared to what is reported in the package. During the autumn-winter period it does not fertilize.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu ), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.


Ivy, being a fast-growing plant, requires pruning at the beginning of spring both to contain its growth and to give it a more harmonious shape as it tends to grow in a disordered way.

For outdoor plants, pruning is done in February-March and in summer to keep growth contained.


The multiplication takes place by cutting or by layering.


Cuttings about 10 cm long are taken from flowering branches during the summer by cutting them immediately above a sketch of leaves.Choose them from robust and healthy plants. It is recommended to cut obliquely as this allows for a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface.

Use a sharp blade to avoid fraying of the fabrics and make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the fabrics and disinfect it at each cut. After removing the lower leaves, they settle into a compote made up of a part of peat and a part of fine sand, making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to be placed. The box or pot is then covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or a bag with a cap) and is placed in an area that is not too bright and at a temperature of around 15-18 ° C, taking care to keep the soil always slightly moist, watering without wetting the rooting cuttings with water at room temperature and possibly not calcareous.

Every day the plastic is removed to check the humidity of the soil and eliminate the condensation that has surely formed from the plastic.Once the first shoots begin to appear (after about 2/3 weeks) it means that the cuttings have rooted. At that point the plastic is removed and the pot is placed in a brighter area and the cuttings are expected to strengthen. Once they are large enough, they are transplanted into the final pot and treated like adult plants.


The cutting can also be put to root in water. Apical cuttings of a flower stem must always be taken and placed in a cup with water. When the cutting has rooted, repot gently in a small pot with the soil suitable for adult plants (photo below: pothos cutting).


The plant grows in a stunted way and is not very fittacreandosi also of the gaps in the foliage

This is a clear symptom of lack of light: the plant is in a low-light area.
Remedies: immediately move the plant to a brighter position.

The leaves lose their mottling

If the leaves lose their mottling it means that they are receiving little light.
Remedies: immediately move the plant to a brighter area of ​​the house.

The leaves dry out for no apparent reason

This symptom can be attributed to an environment that is too dry and hot.
Remedies: increase the nebulisation and ambient humidity, for example by placing bowls containing water near the plant which, evaporating, will guarantee a humid microclimate.

Presence of small light-colored animals on the plant

If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown

If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these manifestations are crumpled, they take on an almost dusty appearance and fall. Observing carefully you also notice some thin cobwebs especially on the lower page of the leaves. With this symptomatology we are most likely in the presence of a red spider mite attack, a very annoying and harmful mite.

Remedies: increase the frequency of nebulizations to the foliage as a dry environment favors their proliferation and possibly, only in the case of particularly serious infestations, use a specific insecticide. If the plant is not large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using wet and soapy cotton. After which the plant was rinsed to remove the soap.

Brown spots on the leaves

Brown spots on the leaves, especially on the underside, could mean that you are in the presence of scale insects, brown scale or floury scale. To be sure, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photos shown, they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large you can wash it with water and neutral soap by rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant is varisciacquato very well to eliminate all the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you need to use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.


L'Hedera helix, the species that is commonly found in our streets thanks to its rusticity is very long-lived and it is said that there are specimens of hundreds of years with the stem of a diameter of one meter.

It is a very important species from a beekeeping point of view thanks to the fact that its flowering occurs late and therefore it is for the bees, the last chance, before the winter break, to collect pollen. The honey obtained is not poisonous.

It is a plant that can cause contact dermatitis. In addition, all its parts contain various toxic substances (triterpene saponin hedera coside A, the flavonoid glycoside rutin as well as a phytoestrogen). In particular, its black fruits are poisonous in fact their ingestion initially produces nausea and vomiting up to evolve into a comatose state and create respiratory problems.

Their wood was often used by carvers instead of boxwood.

The pharmaceutical industry uses some derivatives extracted from the leaves to obtain medicines.

According to NASA studies theHedera helix it has remarkable ability to capture and neutralize 90% of benzene and over 10% of trichlorethylene present in the air, therefore they have a great ability to purify the air.


See: «The language of flowers and plants: the ivy».

(1) Non-copyrighted image courtesy of Daderot

Online bibliographic sources
Ornamental plants. Unrecognized health hazard. Illustrative cards

Video: How to grow english ivy at home quickly?

Previous Article

Aucuba - How to care for and cultivate your Aucuba

Next Article

Ginger: properties, use and benefits