The botanical name for the ivy family is Hedera. Ivies are hardy, evergreen, clinging, climbing plants, ideal for growing up walls, over tree stumps or for ground cover. They can be grown in pots, hanging baskets, window boxes and used as houseplants. Hederas are one of the most useful group of plants for the garden that we have. The wide range of varieties now available give colour and form all the year round.
The Helix and Colchica varieties are winter hardy in this country. The Canariensis varieties can, in an extremely bad winter, be killed so it is well to remember not to plant them in very exposed positions. Hederas thrive best in limey soil. They will grow in acid soil but variegated varieties will tend to throw up a lot of green trails and the leaf form will not be so pronounced in the more elaborate kinds.
To improve soil conditions a handful of lime (found at most garden centres), or limestone pieces, worked into the base of the planting hole will ensure that the limey conditions will be long lasting. When planting against a wall, a small young plant will take about a year to start clinging. Once anchored it makes quick growth. All yellow varieties show their colour best in a light or sunny position. All silver leaf and green varieties grow as well in the shade as in the sun. Being evergreen many varieties make excellent ground cover.