Hedera helix var. baltica
Common Name: English ivy
Type: Vine
Family: Araliaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 25.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. It will also grow in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers rich loams. Tolerates some drought, but produces best foliage color in evenly moist soils. In the St. Louis area, plants will benefit from a shady placement that will provide some protection from winter wind and sun and from hot summer temperatures. Plants may be propagated vegetatively or by seed. Birds help disperse seed. Spreading stems will root at the nodes where they touch the soil. Ground covers rarely need pruning except when they invade unintended areas. Ground covers may be trimmed on the edges with a spade or shears. Var. baltica reportedly has good winter hardiness.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hedera helix, commonly known as English ivy, is a vigorous, aggressive, fast-growing, woody evergreen perennial that is primarily grown as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover. As a climbing vine, it may over time grow upwards to 50-100' in height. As a ground cover, it typically grows to 6-9" tall but spreads over time to 50-100'. English ivy grows in two forms or stages: (1) juvenile stage is the climbing/spreading stage (most often seen) in which plants produces thick, 3-5 lobed, dark green leaves (to 4” long ) on non-flowering stems with adventitious roots, and (2) adult stage is the shrubby non-climbing stage in which lobeless, elliptic-ovate, dark green leaves appear on rootless stems that do not spread or climb, but do produce round, umbrella-like clusters of greenish-white flowers in early fall followed by blue-black berries. Native to Europe, English ivy was brought to the U. S. by settlers in colonial days. It has been and continues to be widely sold in the U. S. as an ornamental plant. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in a large number of eastern, midwestern and pacific coast states. In some climates such as in the Pacific Northwest, it is considered by some to be an invasive invader of woodland and open areas where it often aggressively displaces native vegetation by densely smothering large areas of ground with its trailing densely-leaved stems or by climbing into tree canopies via clinging aerial rootlets.

Genus name comes from the Latin word meaning ivy.

Specific epithet from Greek means spiral or twisted.

Var. baltica is very similar to the species except its dark green leaves are more white-veined, smaller and purplish-tinged in winter. It is a vigorous, aggressive, fast-growing, evergreen, woody perennial that is primarily grown as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover. It is noted for its adventitious juvenile stage roots which attach to most surfaces. This variety is a popular ornamental selection in the U. S., but as is the case with species plants, it is considered to be invasive in certain areas such as in the Pacific Northwest. Climbing/spreading plants will grow somewhat indefinitely in length. Synonymous with and sometimes listed as H. helix ‘Baltica’.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars and scale may appear. Watch for leaf spots, canker, bacterial leaf spot, stem rot and powdery mildew. Mites can be significant problem. Climbing vines around homes easily crawl into unintended areas, curl around gutters and damage painted surfaces, loose mortar or aluminum siding if growth is not closely monitored.

Garden Uses

Cover for fences, trellises or walls. Ground cover. Lawn alternative. Topiary.