Fabulous Evergreen Groundcovers: Propogating English Ivy
Most commercially available ivy is in its young, juvenile form and does not flower. Usually only very old plants (planted many years ago on walls or fences) convert to older, mature, flowering forms of the plant. Juvenile plants and their cuttings root relatively easily, making spreading and propagation from existing plants in your yard a real possibility.
Propagate by Cuttings
With a sharp knife, cut 4 to 5 inch long shoots. Remove the leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the cutting. Using potting soil, coarse sand, or perlite, stick the cuttings 1 1/2 inches into the soil. Water well and cover with a plastic tent to increase humidity. (To reduce the incidence of disease, keep the plastic from touching the leaves.) Place the tray or pot in bright shade, never direct sun. Keep moist, and in 4 to 6 weeks you will have new Ivy plants.
Prune Your New Plants
When conditions are good, ivy can grow quite vigorously and may take off outside the designated patch, requiring pruning around outer edges. Well-established ivy plantings are simply pruned by cutting or mowing the edges where you do not want the ivy to grow. Escaping shoots of ivy can be pulled by hand to keep the plants contained to its area. Over time, English ivy may loose density or become too leggy as the stems shoot out and grow. Cutting back or mowing the top layer of the ivy patch will invigorate root growth, encouraging new shoots to grow from the bottom up, revitalizing the density of the patch.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber cautions you, "English Ivy is consider a noxious weed in both Oregon and Washington State."
Growing Ivy in Containers
Adding containers of ivy adds interest and height. Additionally, container plantings allows you to introduce two or more varieties of ivy for coordination and color mixing. When planting ivy in containers, use containers 3 gallons or larger to be sure you provide enough space for growing and watering.
Place ivy containers on steps, walls, patios, or porches near ivy covered groundcover for appealing visual transition. Similarly, ivy can be nicely trained to a frame in a topiary-like fashion from the ground up. Inconspicuous clear fishing line helps hold up legs of ivy to train it to the frame until the plant is well established.
With proper care, English ivy can also be successfully grown indoors. Containers that were part of your spring and summer landscape can be moved inside for enjoyment throughout the winter after a period of acclimatization to the inside air and temperature. Clippings taken from ivy are often used in floral arrangements, in bouquets and vases, which makes having a ready supply in your yard to coordinate with cut flowers from your garden very handy.
Despite the more demanding care requirements of English ivy as opposed to more easily grown evergreen groundcovers, ivy maintains its hold as a beautiful addition to any yard or garden. The benefits reaped from the year-round color and multiple uses makes ivy a plant worth the extra effort.