12 Types of Outdoor Ivy Plants & How to Identify Them
Outdoor ivy plants are climbers that are covered in green leaves, and the different types of ivy require different care routines.
Most have different leaf shapes and different leaf colors, but all of them are very low-maintenance plants. Because they are climbing vines, ivy plants need something to climb, like a trellis, wall, or whatever garden structure you have. Get ready to learn everything about ivy varieties, their botanical names, and their care needs.
1. English Ivy (aka Hedera Helix)
This evergreen vine tends to flower between late summer and late fall, and it’s very popular across the Atlantic. It has very large, dark green leaves, and it can grow up to 100 feet tall! This ivy plant needs partial shade and it spreads very quickly as a groundcover plant.
Some English ivy plants make good houseplants to put in hanging baskets too. The different varieties of this ivy plant include goldchild ivy, ivalace ivy, and needlepoint ivy. Goldchild ivy has variegated leaves, which means that the leaves are different colors on the edges and middle.
Most people think of this ivy as indoor ivy, so it’s up to you where you want to keep this plant. Ivalace ivy has curly leaves that are shiny green. The leaves are somewhat distinct because they curl so much at the edges. Needlepoint ivy gets its name because the lobes on the leaves are so sharp.
This type of ivy needs full shade because it’s more sensitive to light. This ivy is very common for ground coverage in gardens because colorful flowers will pop against its deep green leaves. English ivy is the most common ivy used, and it has over 400 cultivars.
2. Russian Ivy (aka Hedera Pastuchovii)
This ivy makes small white flowers during the summer months, and those flowers will turn into edible fruits once they finish flowering. The leaves on this ivy are a light shade of green and can develop wavy edges. This ivy does better as a climbing vine than it does at serving as ground cover.
This ivy is very invasive, so it’s not as common as the other types of ivy. It has great hardiness, and you’ll need to prune it every spring for it to keep growing at a healthy rate. It can take any kind of sun exposure, from full sun to full shade. It needs acidic soil like most ivies do. Another common name for this ivy is the Devil’s ivy.
3. Irish Ivy (aka Hedera Hibernica)
Irish ivy can climb walls or serve as ground cover. The ivy leaves of this plant are very dark green and have a glossy finish to them. This ivy has a very fast growth rate, so make sure that you keep a close eye on it to keep it from taking over your home or garden.
It grows yellowish-green flowers in the fall, and it grows purplish-black berries in the spring. Like many other kinds of ivy, Irish ivy is very invasive. It needs either full shade or full sun, and it will thrive in any kind of soil. Although it’s called Irish ivy, it’s also native in the Baltic regions, British Isles, and Scandinavian countries.
4. Boston Ivy (aka Parthenocissus Tricuspidata)
This is a type of woody vine that isn’t actually an ivy, but it’s labeled with ivies because it’s really good at climbing. Its leaves have three points that are lime green in the summer months and a reddish-purple in the winter months.
The flowers it produces aren’t very noticeable, but it makes berries in the fall that are a dark blue color. It requires some form of sunlight, ranging from partial shade to full sun. This plant actually belongs to the grape family, so the berries it produces are edible.
It needs either full sunlight or partial shade, so you should try to plant it in a place where it will get either of these options. Its flowers are goldish-yellow or white, and they bloom in the summer and spring. It can take any kind of soil, as long as it isn’t extremely acidic.
5. Himalayan Ivy (aka Hedera Nepalensis)
Out of all the ivies, this one has the best hardiness zone because it grows at very high altitudes. This ivy is native to countries in Asia, specifically Nepal and Bhutan. Its leaves are very dark green, but they have lighter veins. The leaves of this ivy are very spread out, so it’s not always the top choice for coverage of any kind.
Because this ivy came from such high altitudes in the Himalayas, it doesn’t do well in harsh heat. It should not be planted in acidic soil, only neutral soil. Its flowers are a light yellow, and they bloom during the summer and fall. Try to plant this ivy in a space where it will get full or partial shade.
6. Algerian Ivy (aka Hedera Algeriensis)
The leaves on these ivy varieties are lobed, large leaves. This type of ivy can be invasive, so make sure that you maintain control over this plant. Because it is a climbing plant, it will more than likely climb all over your house if it gets the opportunity.
Its leaves are very broad and a deep shade of green, but it has other varieties of variegation available to you. While any kind of sunlight exposure and soil will work well with this ivy, it grows more efficiently in constantly moist soil. One common variety of Algerian ivy is called Gloire de Marengo.
It’s often called heart ivy because the leaves look like hearts and are greenish-gray in the middle with white edges. Most growers have this type of ivy climb up trellises, walls, and slopes. While it creates leaves and berries, they don’t make much of an impact on the appearance of the ivy.
Algerian ivy is great in harsh weather, which means that it has great hardiness. Most people plant this ivy in California because it helps control soil erosion. It needs full shade or partial sun because it will dry out very quickly. This ivy needs a neutral kind of soil to grow in, or slightly acidic soil will also work.
7. Swedish Ivy (aka Plectranthus Australis)
This isn’t a very good climbing vine, so it’s mostly used for ground cover. Its leaves are dark green, and they have an oval shape. One interesting thing is that the undersides of the leaves are purple. This also isn’t a true ivy, and it’s in the same family as sages and mints.
All parts of this plant’s name are misleading because this plant isn’t even from Sweden; it’s from Northern Australia. Many people like to have this plant indoors because its trailing vines look very good in hanging baskets, but it’s common to find it outside as well.
It requires partial shade, and it needs neutral soil. The round shape of its leaves makes it great for ground cover in gardens because it will make the flowers pop.
8. Persian Ivy (aka Hedera Colchica)
This type of ivy has very shiny leaves that are very large compared to the other kinds of ivy leaves. The leaves can grow between six and ten inches. The leaves resemble the shape of a heart, so this ivy is sometimes referred to as Bullock’s Heart ivy.
Its leaves are very shiny and dark green. One variety of Persian ivy is called the Sulphur Heart. It takes the same heart shape as regular Persian ivy, but the color of the leaves is different. Leaves on the Sulphur Heart variety are a lime green color, and it produces gold flowers.
This ivy looks very good on dark walls because the leaves and flowers will pop. Persian ivy is sometimes referred to as Colicha ivy. It needs partial to full shade, so make sure that you don’t leave it exposed to full sunlight. This ivy won’t grow well in acidic soil, so make sure that you use neutral soil when planting this ivy.
9. Bush Ivy (aka Fatshedera Lizei)
This type of ivy is a hybrid mix of English ivy and Japanese ivy. It’s native to North America and Europe, and it’s typically used as ground cover or an indoor plant. Its leaves are deep green in the center and light yellow on the edge. It requires partial shade, and it needs acidic soil in order for it to grow well. Its flowers bloom in fall and are greenish-white.
10. Japanese Ivy (aka Hedera Rhombea)
The best way to recognize Japanese ivy is because its large heart-shaped leaves have white veins running through them. This type of ivy makes small flowers that take on the shape of umbrellas and are the color of light green. Once flowering is over, the ivy produces round fruits that are black.
Unlike most ivies, Japanese ivy isn’t used for climbing in gardens. Most people use it for ground cover. This type of ivy needs any kind of sun exposure except for full shade, or else it won’t grow. It can grow to be about 24 feet long when it’s fully mature.
It can thrive in any kind of soil, but it won’t do as well in soil that has lots of acidities.
11. Moroccan Ivy (aka Hedera Maroccana)
Moroccan ivy is a very close relative to Canarian ivy. Also, it isn’t the best ivy for climbing, so many people use it for ground cover. It’s used to growing in warmer climates, so it shouldn’t be planted somewhere that’s cold. It likes warmer climates because it originated from Morocco, the Canary Islands, and Northern Africa.
This kind of ivy loves rocky surfaces and tree trunks. This ivy has green flowers that bloom in the fall. It can thrive in almost any kind of soil, extremely acidic soil being the only exception. It needs full sun exposure or partial/full shade. This ivy looks very good on light-colored trellises because the leaves are such a dark shade of green.
12. Canarian Ivy (aka Hedera Canariensis)
This type of ivy is from the Canary Islands and is North African, and even though some people call Algerian ivy by this name, they are two different species. The growth habit of this ivy is very impressive; it can grow up to 100 feet tall! Its leaves grow very close together, so this plant is great for both ground coverage and climbing vine.
One interesting thing about this ivy is that you can train it to grow however you want it to. Its flowers bloom in the summer and fall and are a whitish-green color. It needs any kind of soil and any kind of sunlight exposure other than full sunlight. It grows in forests, so it makes sense that it really likes shade.
How to Spot Poison Ivy
Just about everyone has heard of poison ivy and how much it itches when you come in contact with it. It’s extremely common in North America. You can recognize poison ivy because it has a triad of leaves, but there are several different types of plants that look like this.
For people who love to hike and camp, it’s important to know what poison ivy looks like and how to treat it if you come in contact with it. You should also know how to clear out poison ivy infestations from your home.
Here are some of the defining characteristics of poison ivy:
- Smoother/toothed leaf edges that aren’t serrated or lobed
- Pointy leaf tips
- Smooth or shiny appearance on leaves
- Leaves look droopy
- The middle leaf is bigger than the two other leaves
- Two outside leaves grow from the main stem
Color and berries aren’t always the best indicator for poison ivy because leaf color varies with the season and many other plants have yellowish-white berries. The main thing to do when trying to figure out if a plant is poison ivy or not is to leave it alone.
You don’t want to be touching the plant and then come to the realization that it’s poison ivy. When trying to get rid of a poison ivy infestation, there are a number of things to do. First of all, cover yourself from head to toe to prevent touching the plant.
Next, choose a day when it’s not raining or windy so the leaves don’t get away from you. Then, cut the plant as much as you can and dig up some of the roots. After you’ve got what you think you can manually, use a herbicide to kill off the rest of it.
You might think that you’re done after that, but unfortunately, you aren’t. To dispose of the poison ivy, throw it away in thick garbage bags. Whatever you do, don’t burn it because it’s very dangerous to burn. Throw your gloves away as well.
All that’s left to do is wash everything, which means your gardening tools, clothes, and shoes. Touching poison ivy isn’t the end of the world, but it might feel like it at the time. You’ll more than likely get a very itchy, raised rash that can last between 5 and 12 days.
If you know that you’ve touched poison ivy, wash the area with cold water and soap. You can use an oatmeal bath, cortisone cream, and calamine lotion to relieve the itch, but time is the only thing that will get rid of the infection.