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Hedera helix

Previously known as:

  • Hedera communis
  • Hedera poetica
Phonetic Spelling
HED-er-ah HEE-licks
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Hedera helix, or English ivy, is an invasive, weedy and aggressive plant and you should consider using other groundcovers that do well in the partial or light shade instead of Hedera helix. English Ivy is a high-climbing evergreen vine that is nearly impossible to eradicate once established and is one of the worst invasive weed problems in North Carolina. It aggressively spreads into native forests, where it smothers tall trees as well as the forest floor, preventing native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees from sprouting. Note that the 80 foot height potential for this plant listed below reflects an outside plant. It is safer, and more common, to grow it as a houseplant. 

When grown outside, the plant prefers partial to full shade and rich, acidic, loamy soil. However, it will tolerate a range of soil conditions and will grow in full sun, although full sun may burn the leaves in the winter. Established vines are hardy and drought and salt tolerant. This plant is frequently damaged by deer.

Cuttings taken from the adult part of plant develop into a shrub form and, taking into consideration its invasive nature, the plant can be used as an exterior ground cover, or in planters or low walls, stream banks and difficult areas. The plant grows in two stages. The juvenile stage is the climbing/spreading stage producing thick green leaves on non-flowering stems with adventitious roots. The adult stage is the shrubby non-climbing stage in which stems do not spread or climb, but do produce clusters of greenish-white flowers in early fall followed by blue-black berries. The fruits are ornamental, appearing as a bunch of "grapes". but poisonous when ingested.

Exterior plants typically belong to var. Hibernica which is used as an interior plant in hanging baskets, tall planters, or as grafted standards on X Fatshedera lizei stock. These cultivars are commonly from a different variety, not as cold hardy, with smaller leaves. Smaller-leaved cultivars are often used for topiary shapes, houseplants or small area ground covers.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

As mentioned, the plant is invasive and the rapid growth of the climbing vines can cause structural problems. The plant is subject to aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars, mites, loopers and scale. Watch for leaf spots, canker, bacterial leaf spot, stem rot and powdery mildew.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Arborescens'
    will not climb, but grows as a 3 foot shrub
  • 'Baltica'
  • 'Bulgasia'
  • 'Buttercup'
  • 'California'
  • 'Glacier'
    triangular leaves, gray and green and white margins
  • 'Gnome'
    Petite, slow-growing
  • 'Gold Child'
  • 'Midas Touch'
    green variegated with gold, 8" tall by 8' wide, less invasive
  • 'Treetop'
    Adult form growing as compact shrub, leaves mostly unlobed
  • 'Variegated'
Tags:
#evergreen#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#interiorscape#apvg#cpp#deer browsing plant#glossy leaves#agressive#fantz#perennial weed#evergreen vine#problem for cats#apvg-vg#problem for dogs#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Arborescens'
    will not climb, but grows as a 3 foot shrub
  • 'Baltica'
  • 'Bulgasia'
  • 'Buttercup'
  • 'California'
  • 'Glacier'
    triangular leaves, gray and green and white margins
  • 'Gnome'
    Petite, slow-growing
  • 'Gold Child'
  • 'Midas Touch'
    green variegated with gold, 8" tall by 8' wide, less invasive
  • 'Treetop'
    Adult form growing as compact shrub, leaves mostly unlobed
  • 'Variegated'
Tags:
#evergreen#invasive#poisonous#drought tolerant#interiorscape#apvg#cpp#deer browsing plant#glossy leaves#agressive#fantz#perennial weed#evergreen vine#problem for cats#apvg-vg#problem for dogs#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hedera
    Species:
    helix
    Family:
    Araliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Skandanavia east to Russia
    Wildlife Value:
    Preferred host of the ivy aphid.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    drought and salt tolerant
    Climbing Method:
    Clinging
    Edibility:
    Leaves and berries are toxic to humans.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Houseplant
    Poisonous
    Vine
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Creeping
    Prostrate
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    Conspicuous cluster of black berry-like drupes.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers small, greenish-yellow, 5-parted. An umbel or compound umbels. Greenish-white, only occuring on mature branches.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Palmasect
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves alternate, simple, the juvenile form palmately 3-5-lobed, usually lacking hairs, often variegated. Evergreen, 3-5 palmate lobes with palmate venation when juvenile, ovate to rhombic on mature/adult branches borne well off the ground; leaves dark green above and lustrous, prominently whitish-gray becoming lighter green with age borne adjacent to major veins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Produce adventitious roots for climbing.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heavy Shade
    Salt
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Contact with plant cell sap causes severe skin irritation with redness, itching, and blisters. Ingestion of berries causes burning sensation in the throat. Ingestion of leaves can result in delirium, stupor, convulsions, hallucinations, fever and rash, vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea. Foliage is more toxic than berries.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylene compounds
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems