Rampant English ivy can overwhelm trees.

Compared to Algerian ivy, English ivy, Hedera helix, may seem to be more complaisant. As ground cover, it mostly stays a bit lower, with smaller leaves, and a more refined foliar texture. It is generally easier to maintain and to mow if it does not get too deep. However, where it naturalizes, English ivy is more aggressive and more invasive than Algerian ivy. 

If contained, English ivy is a splendidly dense and evergreen ground cover that excludes most weeds. Containment is very important! English ivy must not climb into shrubbery or trees. It otherwise overwhelms its support and disperses seed. Although reasonably safe on bare concrete walls, it ruins wooden, painted and stucco surfaces. Growth is very fast! 

‘Hahn’s’ is likely the most popular cultivar of English ivy. It branches well, to fill out fast as ground cover. Cultivars that are variegated with white or yellow grow significantly slower, but provide elegant foliage for big pots or planters of mixed annuals or perennials. Foliar lobes are variable. For example, lobes of ‘Needlepoint’ are distinctly narrow and pointed.


13 thoughts on “English Ivy

  1. Well… There are certain times and places where it looks amazing and is fairly easy to tame. In other areas is is a down right pain. I like seeing it on the walls of old brick houses and walls, but when it gets in flower beds it can be difficult to keep out. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Several cultivars?! I grew ‘Needlepoint’ back in the summer of 1990, and it was with me for twenty years. I did not bring it with me from my last move. Anyway, that one cultivar could have been too much. I kept it contained. Heck, I might grow it again within a cultivated garden. I just dislike the species very much where it is naturalized here. It is HORRID!

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      2. It is HORRENDOUSLY invasive when it climbs hundreds of feet into the redwoods and we can not get it down! (Like I mentioned earlier, I can not get too nasty about it within the context of the gardening column.)

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    1. It is a horrid weed here, and climbs hundreds of feet into the redwoods. The forest is too vast to tend to all of it, and in a very steep canyon. If we cut it at the base, the dead carcasses remain in the trees for decades. I could not write all that I really wanted to say about it for the gardening column.

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  2. Hi Tony
    Enjoyed your post on ivy.
    Also – wanted to say I published by plan tree post and linked a few of your posts – thanks for bringing our love for trees and plants and all this botany to the blogosphere

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi – well I think what you got was a “ping back” and that is done if someone links a blog post directly (not the site)
        Okay / hope your week is going well ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

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