Vines and Other Climbing Plants

Ivy - Hedera.

Although Ivy is a common hedgerow plant to be seen scrambling through bushes and up trees everywhere they can also be seen on sale in almost every retail plant outlet. Sometimes they are offered as plants for indoors and sometimes out, but the truth is that they are all as tough as old boots with the exception of a more ornamental variety called Canariensis that can be a bit tender. This particular Ivy has very large, colourful and decorative leaves and can succumb to particularly hard frosts.

Ivies come with many leaf variations both in colour and shape or size. Some like Canariensis have large leaves that have almost lost their points and others have very small leaves that are nearly all points with little leaf surface. Colours include multi colour leaf mixtures with combination variations on Silver, Gold, White and Green of various shades.

Ivies are often used as trailers round baskets and tubs because of their resilience to poor conditions, both in soil quality and shortage of water and also because they grow quite quickly, rapidly putting on a leafy show for Summer, or Winter bedding displays. Generally, Ivies arenít fussy about sun, or shade either, although golden leafed varieties may lose some colour in bright sun and vice versa with shade and silver coloured types.

Ivies will happily climb almost anything with their sucker like aerial roots that cling tightly and they have a reputation for damaging walls as their powerful roots will penetrate soft mortar and break it up so that if the plant is removed the mortar comes with it. Also a large leafy plant growing up a house wall will prevent the sun and air getting to it, which may lead to damp problems. Ivies also have a bad reputation for strangling trees and even making them top heavy with their luxuriant leafy growth that may lead to branch falls, or even fetch down a full tree in strong winds. Trying to remove excessive Ivy growth from anywhere is also fraught with dangers as every little bit of Ivy that is broken off in the process is liable to root, because it roots very easily, so real care must be taken in removing every last bit that falls to the ground.
However, apart from their suitability for baskets and tubs they are also great plants grown in the right place in the garden and if they are only allowed to grow in moderation. They will grow up and cover a bare chain link fence to make a screen, although they may need a little encouragement to start them climbing, and they will happily cover any old and unsightly shed, garage, or other building, given time. Larger established Ivies will flower and although their flowers are not attractive to us, they are very attractive to the insect and animal world with their rich source of nectar and after pollination, the resulting dark berries that the birds love. Nature also benefits in other ways from Ivies, as big, thick plants provide an ideal habitat for many birds to nest in, so Ivies may not be every gardeners dream plant, but they have their uses and definitely belong in any wildlife, or nature lovers garden.

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