About English Ivy:
To the ancient Greeks and Romans, glossy-leafed, dark green ivy was sacred to the god Dionysus (Bacchus in Rome). The pagan druids reflected on ivy in the Christmas carol, “The Holly and the Ivy,” where the plant represents female divinity. This plant clearly had an impact on ancient cultures but did not stop there. The evergreen vines of this invasive species have vastly covered Europe.
Botanically speaking, English ivy plants are evergreen perennials. They are also classified as woody vines. English ivy plants can act as ground covers, spreading horizontally and reaching 8 inches in height. But they are also climbers, due to their aerial rootlets, which allow them to climb to heights of 50 feet or more. They will eventually bear insignificant greenish flowers but are grown primarily for their evergreen leaves. In this regard, they can be classified as foliage plants.
- Botanical Name: Hedera helix
- Common Name: English ivy, common ivy, European ivy
- Plant Type: Perennial, evergreen climbing vine
- Mature Size: Reaches 6 to 8 inches tall and can spread 15 feet or more
- Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
- Soil Type: Fertile and moist
- Soil pH: Neutral to slightly alkaline
- Bloom Time: Fall
- Flower Color: Greenish-white, greenish-yellow
- Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9
- Native Area: Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia
Health Benefits of English Ivy:
One of the most well-known benefits of using ivy, particularly “English Ivy”, is for inflammation issues in the body. If you suffer from arthritis, gout, or rheumatism, you can either consume it in the form of tea or apply the leaves directly to the spot of inflammation. For people who experience discomfort and pain from an injury or surgery, topical application is recommended. This can heal internal inflammation as well, which has a variety of other applications in various bodily systems.
Detoxifies the Body
Early studies showed a link between liver and gallbladder function and the use of ivy leaves; this helps the organs function better and releasetoxins from the body more effectively, thereby purifying the blood and reducing strain on these crucial systems.
For centuries, people have used ivy leaves to minimize the pain and infection of burning wounds on the skin. This also works for any open sores or wounds, as there are certain antibacterial properties of its leaves, in addition to the protective nature of the saponins found within the leaves. This can also help relieve the discomfort and irritation of psoriasis, eczema, acne, and other skin-related conditions.
Ivy leaves are commonly used to eliminate respiratory tract congestion and inflammation. They act as an expectorant and can break up the phlegm and mucus in the bronchial system. By eliminating these breeding grounds for pathogens and bacteria, you can improve your overall health and reduce your healing time from illness. This also makes ivy leaves an effective remedy for allergic reactions and asthma, as they reduce the inflammation of those passages.
Although research is still ongoing, the many properties that ivy leaves have displayed suggest a significant antioxidant activity, which also means that they may have the ability to prevent the spread or development of cancer. By eliminating free radicals and preventing mutation and apoptosis, ivy leaves may help protect the body from a wide range of chronic diseases, including cancer.
Reduce mold and improve air quality
English ivies are one of the top 10 air-purifying plants, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). English ivies can remove toxins like:
These toxins can cause sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome is when people feel ill when spending time in a particular building or room.
One study also found that English ivies could reduce particles of fecal matter and mold. Researchers found that the amount of fecal matter dropped by more than 94 percent in 12 hours. Mold went down by 78.5 percent.
But these studies were done in a small enclosed space or container. In your home, an English ivy probably isn’t as effective as an air purifier.
English Ivy Care:
The fact that English ivy plants spread quickly means that they could be useful as ground covers for filling in hard-to-plant spots in your landscaping. Their aggressive nature suggests that they could be effective allies against erosion on hillsides. At home indoors or out, English ivy does well planted in containers or baskets where its trailing vines can hang down. Ivy will need protection from winter winds as well as the hot summer sun, so plant appropriately.
English ivy plants grow well in part shade to full shade. Their ability to grow in shade has made English ivy a traditional ground cover for planting under trees. Such areas in your landscaping can be extremely problematic, as most grasses will not grow well there. Vigorous, with a dense growth habit, this ground cover can be effective where the object is to crowd out weeds.
Grow these evergreen vines in well-drained soil. Although it will grow in poor soils and soils of a wide range of pH levels, it does best in average loams.
When watering your ivy, always check the soil before adding water. Ivies prefer to be kept slightly on the dry side, so let the soil dry out some (dry to the touch on top) before you water your ivy plant again. Also, make sure that your plant has excellent drainage. Ivy should not be kept in standing water or overly wet soil.
Temperature and Humidity
You can grow the plants in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 9. English Ivy plants can grow in temperatures between 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but they do prefer a consistent temperature and medium to high humidity to keep up its dark green leaves.
Feed English ivy every two weeks during the spring and summer season with half the recommended dose of basic houseplant food. Fertilize monthly in the fall and winter. Do not use fertilizer or plant food if the plant is in a stressful situation: very hot, very cold, very dry soil, or leaf production that has stopped.
Potting and Repotting
Repot small ivy plants every year into fresh potting soil, or every other year for larger plants. Old, tired plants can be refreshed and planted back into their same containers.
Propagating English Ivy
Ivies propagate readily from stem cuttings. Because they are trailing plants, ivies benefit from trimming—use these trimmings to propagate your plants. Take cuttings 4 to 5 inches long and place them in water until a good network of root hairs has developed, then plant in potting soil.
Growing in Containers
Some homeowners grow these plants in hanging baskets, letting them cascade over the sides. Indeed, considering their invasive quality, the latter is a very sensible way in which to grow the vines for their beauty without having to worry that they will spread out of control.