Ivies, in all their variety, have many pleasant uses in a garden landscape.
Varieties of ivy plants
Ivies are ideal for screening unsightly corners, for covering tree-stumps and other blemishes in the garden, and for growing in crevices in dry walls or on stone paths.
Where a neat serviceable ground cover is required they are unsurpassed. Even on the driest banks their purposeful leaders look for fresh worlds to conquer with satisfying speed.
In shady areas under trees where most grasses tend to become shabby the ivy forms an attractively patterned growth.
In hanging baskets they can be used by themselves or they can enhance the attractiveness of other plants with which they are grown.
Ivies prefer partial shade but do not resent sun in temperate areas. In tropical districts they require almost full shade.
They revel in rich, moist soil but accommodate themselves to poorer, drier sites and can be grown almost anywhere in Australia.
Ivies have become popular as indoor plants. But don’t over-pot them. A 3-inch container is usually sufficient for several years, ending up in a 5-inch pot.
Over-watering should be avoided, and the leaves need regular cleansing.
Ivies are self-clinging, attaching themselves by aerial rootlets, and do little or no harm to walls but probably give some protection.
Of the 5 or 6 species, the English ivy (Hedera helix) is the one most commonly grown.
It has neat, clean, dark green foliage, the lighter-colored veins producing a marbled effect with an unusual restrained beauty.
Many varieties of the English ivy have been evolved, providing a wide choice for interested growers, as they vary in leaf size, lobing, and coloring. Some have very small leaves, less than 1 inch in diameter, others much larger.
Pittsburgh is a small-leaved compact variety with green foliage; Glacier, a moderately growing variety with small green-and-white triangular leaves; Variegated ivy has white variegated leaves.
Gold Dust is a small-growing variety with green-and-yellow mottled leaves, suitable for growing in pots, and Palmata aurea has triangular deeply lobed leaves and golden variegation.
The Canary Island or Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis) has large attractive leaves, 4 inches to 7 inches wide, rounded or broadly egg-shaped, with between 3 and 7 shallow lobes, and spaced rather widely along the stems.
There are several attractive varieties with variegation of green, white, silver, and pale pink; and, like the English ivy, they are useful both inside and outside the house.
Ivies are readily grown from cuttings or by layering and often strike quite easily in water, although the resulting roots tend to be brittle and require careful handling when planting.