Table of contents:
- Ivy: decorative climbing plant
- The right place outdoors
- Low demands on the floor
- Planting time for ivy
- Care tips for ivy
- Ivy as a houseplant
- Use ivy to green the facade
- Propagate ivy yourself
- Attention leaf diseases
Video: Plant portrait of ivy
Ivy provides more nature protection in the garden, is suitable for greening house facades and can even be used as a houseplant. We present the versatile climbing plant and give tips on care and use.
If you think of ivy, you will immediately see completely green house facades in front of you. The common ivy, Hedera helix, can do much more and often decorates interiors as a houseplant. You can take advantage of the climbing plant both indoors and outdoors and put it in the spotlight as decorative leaf decorations. Incidentally, ivy is the only evergreen climbing plant native to Central Europe and, with the exception of a few varieties, is absolutely hardy in our latitudes.
Ivy: decorative climbing plant
Ivy can climb more than 20 meters high. The great thing about the plant: It is a so-called self-climber, which means that it does not need trellis or climbing aids to climb these airy heights. Ivy forms sticky roots with which it finds a hold on (almost) every surface. The leaves are distinctly shaped and strongly colored green to dark green. Many varieties also show a pretty autumn color, which ranges from yellow to pink to red. The trunk can grow with age - ivy is over 500 years old = " - a good meter. It is also interesting that ivy changes with age, botanists speak of the "age form" of ivy. Their characteristics are:
- At some point, ivy no longer forms climbing drives, but shoots growing upright.
- The bark is no longer green to brown-red, but is colored light gray.
- Older ivy develops flowers that are inconspicuous, yellowish green. They contain a great deal of nectar and thus serve bees and other insects as valuable food sources, above all because they only form from September and thus provide food outside the gardening season.
- The spherical fruits that form in early spring, i.e. after flowering, are weakly poisonous for humans, but are found for domestic birds.
The right place outdoors
Unlike most plants, ivy prefers a low-light to very shady area outdoors. Exceptions are some varieties such as 'Goldheart' or 'Glacier', which have colorful foliage and a little more light - but never direct sunlight! - need to fully develop their beautiful leaf colors. Also pay attention to the surroundings: ivy has strong roots and proliferates so strongly that only extremely competitive plants survive in its vicinity. Cherry laurel or Funkie, for example, have proven themselves as neighbors.
Low demands on the floor
As for the soil, ivy is very adaptable and tolerates both dry and acid soil. The plant prefers to have calcareous soils with a high nutrient and humus content. In the ideal case, they are also permanently slightly damp.
Planting time for ivy
Those who want to plant ivy outdoors should take action in spring. Although most varieties and the species themselves are hardy, the plant can grow enough until winter and is not affected by the cold season.
Gardener's tip: Cut the ivy shoots back by about half right from the start. This stimulates branching and ensures a denser leaf wall.
Care tips for ivy
Despite choosing an appropriate location, ivy usually only begins to grow after two years - but then very quickly. If you mulch the soil around the roots, the moisture stays in the soil better, which reduces watering to a minimum. In any case, ivy only needs to be watered by hand in extremely long dry periods. Fertilization is also not necessary. In winter, however, it has proven useful to protect ivy that has been planted in lighter locations with a fleece or the like from the winter sun. If the plant grows too quickly and covers windows or doors, for example, it can be cut in spring. A cut in summer is also possible, but not advisable for reasons of nature conservation: many birds use the ivy foliage to nest in it.
Still life with ivy.
Photo: living4media / Marij Hessel
Ivy as a houseplant
Many varieties of ivy are commercially available, some for the home, others for the outdoors. The houseplants are usually not hardy, but are characterized by particularly pretty leaf drawings: there are ivy with white, golden or reddish patterned leaves. As a houseplant, ivy grows much more slowly and remains much smaller overall. It is particularly effective at traffic lights or high up on a shelf or cupboard, from where the shoots can hang down gracefully. But there are also variants that are offered in a pot with their own trellis, so that the mini ivy grows into an appealing structure, for example in the shape of a heart. A nice aspect: ivy as a houseplant is an effective room air purifier.
As a houseplant, ivy needs more care than outside in the garden. It develops best at room temperatures around 18 degrees Celsius and should therefore not be installed near the heating. In the house, the plant needs significantly more light, but still has to be protected from direct sunlight. An increased level of humidity, as found in bathrooms, is an advantage. Ivy in a pot also requires regular but economical watering. Fertilization takes place every two to three weeks with conventional liquid fertilizer. In winter, the extra nutrients are no longer required, and watering is also reduced. It is best to winter ivy a little cooler, but the temperatures should not drop below ten degrees Celsius. Since ivy is equally strong in the pot, an average planter is required every two years. Check the houseplant regularly for thrips or scale insects - the most common pests that can occur indoors.
Climbing roses and ivy form a beautiful team on this brick facade.
Photo: living4media / Roland Krieg
Use ivy to green the facade
As a plant for greening facades, ivy is a real classic. In the meantime, however, the decision should be carefully considered, because ivy is very difficult to remove from the wall of the house. Not infrequently, you even have to use a gas burner and work every single centimeter by hand with the brush. If there were small cracks in the wall of the house, the roots of the ivy usually blew them up, so that expensive repair measures are necessary. In itself, however, ivy acts like a natural protective layer and protects walls from weather-related damage. However, it is not suitable for every type of house facade: ivy, for example, cannot be held on fresh concrete walls, as these have a high pH value that the plant cannot tolerate. Here you have to wait a few years for greening. Experience has shown that ivy does not grow on bright white painted or highly reflective walls. Only a darker coat helps here. A proven variety of ivy for greening facades is 'Lake Balaton'.
Propagate ivy yourself
Ivy is easy to reproduce. To do this, cut cuttings from the annual shoots towards the end of summer, each with two knots and several leaves. The lower leaf is pulled off and the cuttings are planted in a pot with growing soil. Insert them so deep that the lowest knot is in the ground. A foil cover or a plastic hood, which is put over the pot, ensures an even air humidity, which favors the formation of roots. After eight weeks at the latest, the ivy cuttings should have their own roots so that they can be converted into individual pots. They will be allowed to go outside next spring.
Attention leaf diseases
In addition to the house plant pests mentioned, various leaf diseases can also occur in ivy, especially outdoors, which are usually caused by fungal infections. In these cases, cut your plant back rigorously and dispose of all infected parts of the plant. The variegated ivy varieties have also shown themselves to be susceptible to the so-called ivy cancer, which is also expressed in leaf spots, starting at the edges. The affected leaves and shoots are also removed here.
Ulrike Hanninger Redaktion Haus.de