Questions about ivy? We have got the answers! Whether you are wondering how to care for your ivy plants, or if it is okay to plant them outside, we have you covered. Plus, we answer questions like “Can you compost Ivy? “, “Is Ivy poisonous?” and “Can I use Ivy as a houseplant?”.
Ivy plants are a beautiful addition to any garden. They make a great ground cover, and their vines can be used for a variety of purposes from covering walls or windowsills to creating an outdoor wreath. But how much do you know about this plant? If you are into gardening (you should be!) then this blog post has everything you need to know about ivy.
1. What is Ivy?
Ivy is a genus of plants in the family “Araliaceae”. The name originates from Old English and means literally “climbing plant”. Ivy has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant, but its use goes back to ancient times when it was considered sacred.
There are about 180 different species of ivy that grow throughout the world. Some examples are Japanese ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), Boston ivy (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and Virginia creeper (Pachysandra terminalis).
Ivy is a climber that can be found on trees, rocks, and walls. It often goes up brick or stone chimneys that are part of old houses. It also thrives in ferny woods where there is not enough light for other plants to grow so well. Ivy likes all types of soil but prefers a humid environment.
2. What Does Ivy Look Like?
It is a climbing vine with leaves that are long and pointed at both ends. The leaves have three leaflets which resemble ivy tendrils that wrap around objects such as trees or poles in order to climb up them.
The leaves are green and glossy with pointed ends, while the stem is made up of thin vines with small hairs called trichomes. Ivy flowers are white and grow in clusters at the end of stems or in leaf axils (the point where two branches meet).
3. Is Ivy Poisonous?
Ivy is one of those plants that has a really bad reputation because there are many different types which can be quite confusing. The most dangerous kind is known as “Poison Ivy,” Rhus radicans which is not even a true ivy (Hedera).
This plant contains urushiol oil which causes an allergic reaction that leads to skin irritation, inflammation, and itchiness when touched by humans (or other animals). The reaction varies from person to person in terms of severity and duration. However, many people are allergic and suffer very painful reactions that can last up to 24 hours!
Common English ivy however is actually not poisonous and is the type most often grown as a houseplant. It can be found on trees, rocks, and walls but it has no urushiol oil so there is nothing to worry about if you accidentally touch it or snag your clothes on one while climbing up a tree for example.
4. What Happens if You Eat Ivy?
The common ivy plant, a.k.a Hedera helix is actually edible and has been used as a food crop in China for centuries! The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. However, it is best to avoid berries because they contain toxic substances called hydrocyanic acid and oxalic acid that can gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
If you do ingest toxic ivy berries or poison ivy, seek medical attention immediately.
5. Is it Possible to Grow Ivy from Cuttings?
Yes, Ivy can be propagated from cuttings taken from the roots. It is recommended to take a stem cutting from healthy-looking, new growth on the plant.
The ivy should be placed in water and stored at room temperature for about two weeks or until the roots are visible. Plant the rooted cutting into the soil as soon as possible with just enough water to keep it moist but not wet. Ivy cuttings can grow quickly if conditions are right! It will need repotting before winter sets in so that it has plenty of space to grow again in the spring.
6. Is There a Cure for Poison Ivy Rash?
The best way to deal with a poison ivy rash is prevention. If you know where the plant grows, stay away from it, or take precautions such as wearing long sleeves and pants.
If you have already been exposed?
- Wash with soap and water twice daily until the rash clears up.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream to soothe the itchiness.
- Consider taking an antihistamine like Benadryl or Claritin to reduce swelling, pain, and itching
7. Will Ivy Devalue my House?
There are cases in which ivy will devalue a property, but this depends on where you live and if your plant is poisonous/invasive. In most cases, however, ivy can actually increase the value of the home.
Ivy is often used as decoration for gardens and walls which makes it attractive from an aesthetic perspective, and the reason that ivy may add value to your property is that it can take many years and a lot of patience to grow properly.
8. Is it Safe to Use Weed Killer on Ivy?
Yes! Ivy is considered a weed by many people so you can use almost any kind of homemade or store-bought weed killer to kill it.
If you are thinking about using a weed killer, it is important to note that ivy is considered an invasive plant in some regions. If your area has listed the plant as invasive, then make sure to use a product labelled for killing invasive and not just all types of plants.
Otherwise, many stores offer products specifically made for killing ivy so be sure to read through the label before buying anything!
One way you can control ivy’s growth is by using a herbicide which targets broadleaf plants such as ivy but not grasses or flowers. The best time for this treatment would be early spring when new growth becomes noticeable on the vines before they get too big for easy removal later on.
It may take more than one application on your part but eventually, you will get rid of this pesky problem once and for all.
Even if these methods do not seem to work at first, there is always a chance they will do something when applied over time so keep trying until the vine dies off completely!
9. Is Ivy used in Medicine?
It may come as a surprise, but yes, ivy is used in cough syrup. It has been found to have an expectorant effect on the lungs and can be added to many different types of medicines for this reason.
Many people are not aware that ivy is used widely in medicine; it was even one of the primary ingredients in the original SARS vaccine! Ivy extract is also often used by diabetic patients as part of their treatment regimen because it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
In the past, ivy was considered a potent tool to help reduce pain and swelling from many different ailments such as arthritis or gout.
There are also some studies suggesting that ivy may have antibiotic properties which could make it useful in the treatment of certain types of infections.
There are still those who believe in the traditional uses for ivy though, including herbalist Steven Foster who recommends using fresh roots boiled in water to create a topical poultice for earaches.
10. Will Ivy Damage my Property?
There are two schools of thought on ivy damage to property, one believes that ivy can cause significant structural problems with a property including widening any cracks in the surface so as to weaken it.
The other school of thought believes that ivy is not damaging but in fact, it can be strengthening; particularly for older structures that are already weakened by previous damage or old age. The theory is that when the aerial roots grow into cracks and crevices, it acts like glue, holding the structure together.
11. Can Ivy be Grown Indoors?
Ivy plants are a common houseplant that can be found in many homes throughout the United States. The ivy plant is known as being difficult to grow and requires plenty of sunlight for optimal health.
Ivy is considered more difficult to care for than other houseplants because it cannot tolerate cold temperatures at all. It also needs more sunlight than most other indoor plants (about three hours per day), a moist environment, and high humidity levels in order to thrive.
If you do live in an area with cooler climates you might want to consider using artificial light instead if natural light is unavailable or is too much effort on your behalf.
In the UK, growing ivy indoors is much less common although there are still people who grow it. There are plenty of different types of ivy plants that can be grown indoors, but they need to have a south-facing window and should ideally not be near any heat sources as this will cause the plant to dry out quickly.
12. Can Dogs Eat Ivy?
Can dogs eat ivy? No, feeding your dog ivy is not recommended because the plant contains a toxic element called saponin that can cause stomach upset. The good news about this is that most of the time when your dog eats an ivy leaf, it will be fine after vomiting and passing some diarrhoea. However, if you notice any other symptoms like seizures or abnormal heart rate then you should take them to see their vet straight away!
13. Where Does Ivy Come From?
Ivy is a plant that can be found in many different climates and habitats. It has been recorded to grow on every continent except Antarctica.
The English variety of this versatile vine was first cultivated by John Tradescant the Younger at his nursery near London around 1638 after he received it from Dutch settlers who had previously introduced it to England during their brief occupation under Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth regime in 1649-1660.
A beautiful ivy, Japanese ivy is a popular type of vine that has been used in gardens for centuries and can be found throughout the world as an ornamental plant.
In contrast with its European cousin, little is known about the origins of the Japanese variety; some think it originated in Japan, while others believe it may be Chinese.
South American Ivy
It is not clear yet how the southern variety of ivy got to its current home, but many scientists agree that it has been present in North America since before European settlers arrived on these shores.
South African Ivy
There are a couple of theories about where this type of ivy came from with one being that it was brought by Dutch traders and another claiming it was first cultivated by Gardeners at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens near Cape Town.
It is believed that Australian ivy, which could be mistaken for English or Japanese varieties, made its way to Australia when British colonists planted vines around their homes as decoration.
This green beauty also goes by several other names including New Zealand ivy, Australian mountain creeper or kangaroo vine but no matter the name, this plant is native to New Zealand.
14. What Eats Ivy?
Ivy is a popular food for many insects as it provides them with the sugary nectar that they need to survive. Ivy has a plethora of predators, from slugs and snails to birds and wasps. The most destructive are the larvae of some species of insects that feed on ivy leaves.
Other insects that are quite partial to ivy include whitefly, aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, butterflies, caterpillars, birds, moths, and ants also eat ivy.
15. Does Ivy Damage Other Plants?
Ivy will grow quickly over other plants and trees alike by sending out aerial roots that cling to them like tentacles. These roots attach themselves tightly around the tree or bush’s stem until they cut off the flow of water and nutrients from reaching the top; eventually killing it.
Ivy can also grow particularly large and shade out everything else in the area, which is why ivy can be a nuisance to gardeners.
16. How Big Does Ivy Grow?
Ivy can grow exceptionally large in some cases; it can grow as high as 50 feet tall! There are different types of ivy that have different growth patterns, but they all require the same care: lots of water, sunlight, and soil with good drainage to thrive.
It is ivy’s ability to grow so large that makes it a great climber used for decoration.
17. Can you Compost Ivy?
Ivy is notoriously difficult to compost due to its hardy nature and tendency to regrow. If you add fresh ivy to your compost pile, it is likely to take root and ruin your efforts.
It is possible to compost ivy, but it is best to wait until the ivy is long dead before adding it. The best way to do this is to shred the ivy as fine as possible and then bag it up until it begins the decomposition process. Once the ivy has started to decompose, it can be added to the pile without issue.
18. How do I Know if my Ivy Needs Water?
Healthy ivy leaves should be dark green and glossy looking. If you have an ivy plant and it is wilting or drooping, it may have been over or under-watered.
If you are not sure if your ivy plant needs watering, check the soil around the roots first. If the soil feels moist and then it probably does not need any water just yet. If the top is dry and sandy like potting soil when you touch it with your fingertips, then give your plant some more love by watering well!
19. Do Ivy Leaves Change Colour in the Wintertime?
Although ivy is an evergreen, the colour of ivy leaves can change in the wintertime as they lose chlorophyll and turn brown. Ivy leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis.
As days grow shorter and temperatures drop, the sun does not provide enough light for ivy to be able to produce enough energy through photosynthesis. The lack of energy makes it difficult for ivy to maintain its green colour – winter temperatures that drop below 50°F will cause an ivy leaf to turn brown without any other changes occurring such as a decrease in water or fertilizer levels.
As the temperatures start warming up in the springtime and more sunlight becomes available, ivy leaves will return to their original bright green colour.
Ivy plants are a common ground cover for shady areas, and they make excellent additions to garden beds. They can be grown in containers as well. These little plants have been around since ancient times, so chances are you have seen one before or even planted one yourself!
We hope this article has helped you answer any ivy questions you may have had. If not please send us an email so we can help you out. Remember that with just a little bit of knowledge and research, an ivy plant in your yard is sure to add instant beauty as well as charm!
Garden Doctor Tips
“Ivy can quickly get out of hand so it is a good idea to have a regular pruning schedule each year!”
“Ensure that you keep your Ivy well watered in the summer, they are big drinkers!”
“Make sure the Ivy is completely dead before adding it to the compost pile – you do not want it to take root!”
“Remember that if your pets eat Ivy, keep an eye on them, they may need to go and see a vet!”
Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.