Scientific: Hedera helix
Common: English ivy
Family: Araliaceae
Origin: Europe, note this image of H. helix growing as an understory vine in the forested mountains of southeast Macedonia in southeastern Europe.

Pronounciation: HED-er-a HE-lix

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 1-24
USDA 3-11

Landscape Use: Relatively diminutive, evergreen ground cover for shady portions of the Phoenix landscape, mesic landscape design motifs, hanging baskets, patio containers, indoor atriums, landscape topiary.

Form & Character: Evergreen vine providing an old fashioned colonial look, clean.

Growth Habit: English ivy has has both juvenile and adult forms of habit. The juvenile form is a vine with stems trailing to 25 to 50 feet or more (up to 100 feet in more temperate, moist climates) that can climb and attaches via adventitious stem roots. In contrast, the reproductive adult form is small and bushy and usually is manifested abruptly off of juvenile stems that have climbed up onto a support structure.

Foliage/texture: Juvenile foliage 3-5 lobed, 2 to 4 inches wide at base w/ palmate venation; adult foliage larger and less lobed and usually found at highest point. Aerial roots on juvenile stems strongly attach to most anything, but are not quite as destructive as the juvenile stems of Hedera canariensis (Algerian ivy). The texture of English ivy is medium.

Flowers & fruits: Juvenile foliage none, adult form has small greenish white flowers in clusters, spring, followed by small black drupe fruit.

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: English ivy is very cold tolerant, hardy to -40oF.

Light: In the Phoenix area, English ivy does not tolerate full sun and will quickly die when exposed to western afternoon sun during summer. Because of this, plant English ivy only in light to full shade in Phoenix.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: English ivy is NOT drought tolerant, and must be irrigated on a regular and frequent basis.

Pruning: Prune to control spread only.

Propagation: Juvenile stem cuttings root easily under moist conditions.

Disease and pests: Spider mites are the main problem for English ivy in central Arizona landscapes. Treatment includes rinsing off foliage with a high pressure stream of water. Otherwise, bacterial leaf spot and edema (water soaking) are problems that can rarely occur only during unusually cool wet periods. Rhetorical question: When was the last time that happened in the lower deserts of the southwestern United States?.

Additional comments: English ivy is smaller and less vigorous than Hedera canariensis which makes this the ivy ground cover of choice for smaller, shaded locations in Phoenix that have a mesic landscape design motif. For use as a landscape ground cover, its best to plant English ivy from nursery flats at about 18 to 24 inches on center. English ivy, though it can be cultivated in the shade in Phoenix, is far more climatically adapted to grow in higher elevation Arizona landscapes, such as Flagstaff, Prescott, Payson, and Show Low, where the weather is always cooler.

There are MANY English ivy cultivars, and new ones are introduced into the horticultural market by nurseries each year. Some longstanding favorite and well known cultivars include:

Invasive alert: English ivy is known to be invasive in 18 US states, particularly those along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.