By Jackie Carroll
English ivy plants (Hedera helix) are superb climbers, clinging to almost any surface by means of small roots that grow along the stems. English ivy care is a snap, so you can plant it in distant and hard-to-reach areas without worrying about maintenance.
Growing English Ivy Plants
Plant English ivy in a shady area with an organically rich soil. If your soil lacks organic matter, amend it with compost before planting. Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart, or 1 foot apart for quicker coverage.
The vines grow 50 feet long or more, but don’t expect quick results in the beginning. The first year after planting, the vines grow very slowly, and in the second year they begin to put on noticeable growth. By the third year the plants take off, and quickly cover trellises, walls, fences, trees or anything else they encounter.
These plants are useful as well as attractive. Hide unsightly views by growing English ivy as a screen on a trellis or as a cover for unattractive walls and structures. Since it loves shade, the vines make an ideal ground cover under a tree where grass refuses to grow.
Indoors, grow English ivy in pots with a stake or other vertical structure for climbing, or in hanging baskets where it can tumble over the edges. You can also grow it in a pot with a shaped wire frame to create a topiary design. Variegated types are especially attractive when planted in this way.
How to Care for English Ivy
There’s very little involved with English ivy care. Water them often enough to keep the soil moist until the plants are established and growing. These vines grow best when they have plenty of moisture, but they tolerate dry conditions once established.
When grown as a ground cover, shear off the tops of the plants in spring to rejuvenate the vines and discourage rodents. The foliage regrows quickly.
English ivy seldom needs fertilizer, but if you don’t think your plants are growing as they should, spray them with half-strength liquid fertilizer.