Twist a wire into a heart shape and plant an ivy.
A pot of green ivy.

Beautify your home with English ivies that can be grown indoor or outdoors, writes Stephanie Choo.

CULTIVARS of English ivies have cute lobed leaves. These very ornamental plants can be grown in the sun or indoors. Why not beautify your home with long and lush ivies?

PLANT FACT

Popularly called common ivy, European ivy, ivy or English ivy, the flowering plant is scientifically named Hedera helix. Hedera means ivy in Latin while helix means spiral or twisted in Greek. The species is a native to western, central and southern Europe and western Asia. The genus Hedera (of 12 to 15 species) belongs to the family, Araliaceae.

Found up to 515m above sea level, H. helix is a liana (woody climber). The evergreen vine is a long-lived perennial (up to 400 years) with two distinct growth forms — non-flowering stems with classic ivy-shaped leaves that sprawl the ground horizontally and flowering stems with ovate leaves that ascend vertically using aerial roots.

The former is usually found in heavy shade while the latter often grows in sunny or partial shade locations.


Ivies in starter trays at a nursery.

THE CULTIVARS

While the species is considered invasive, some cultivars are not such as Glacier, Spetchley and Congesta. English ivy cultivars are selected for yellow or white variegated, cut or curly leaves, or for slow dwarfed growth habit. Their leaves are in different sizes, colours and shapes. Some are non-climbing and many do not flower or seed.

The popular ones are Angularis Aurea (light green leaves blotched with yellow), Caecilia (frilled light green leaves variegated with creamy-white), Congesta (dwarf shrub with slightly lobed leaves), Duckfoot (shallow three-lobed light green leaves), Glacier (irregular blotches of grey and green shallowly-lobed triangular leaves with uneven creamy-white narrow margin), Goldchild (light green leaves with broad bright yellow margin; older leaves are grey-green edged with pale yellow), Manda’s Crested (broad, dark green five-lobed leaves with wavy margins but bronze-tinged in winter), Midas Touch (bright green triangular to heart-shaped leaves splashed with golden-yellow), Parsley Crested (entire or slightly lobed broad leaves) and Spetchley (tiny prostrate shrub with three-lobed solid green leaves).

HOW TO GROW OUTDOORS

A large evergreen climber, ivy Glacier, which can reach 2.5m high and 1m wide, can be propagated using semi-hardwood cuttings. Water daily to keep soil moist at all times and feed regularly with any all-purpose fertiliser.

Ivies are commonly used as hanging plants. They have roots that set into the soil deeply and densely to prevent soil erosion and make great ground covers.

Many use ivies to cover walls, fences and climb up trellises or 2-D shaped-frames to make a potted topiary with their foliage. I grew my ivy Glacier in full sun, in rich soil and trained to climb a topiary frame.

HOW TO GROW INDOORS

Indoor ivies require bright light to survive. If the ivy is not next to the window, place it under artificial light for about 12 hours.

Settle ivy in well-draining soil mix. Check the soil before watering. Do not over-water. Water only when top surface of soil is dry or pot feels lighter when lifted.

Once in a while, rinse the whole plant with water. This will allow you to clean the leaves and remove pest.

All parts of an ivy plant are toxic. The sap may irritate skin and cause an allergic reaction.