17 Types of Ivy Plants You Should Know

Ivy plants are a beloved choice for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Their lush, evergreen foliage adds a touch of vibrancy to any room, while their rapid growth makes them perfect for covering outdoor areas. With such a wide variety of ivy plants to choose from, there’s bound to be one that suits your space perfectly.

Most ivy plants belong to the genus Hedera, but there are also other types of ivy that fall outside of this category. While they may look similar, each type of ivy has its own unique characteristics. Once you start collecting them, you’ll find it hard to resist adding more to your collection. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful houseplant or a climbing vine for your outdoor space, there’s an ivy for every preference.

However, it’s important to note that most climbing ivy plants are invasive when they grow under ideal conditions. They can quickly climb or cover other plants, depriving them of sunlight and causing them to wither and die. In fact, ivy is considered a noxious weed in many areas of the United States. Before planting ivy outside, make sure it is allowed in your area. When in doubt, opt for native plants instead.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting types of ivy and what makes each one unique.

Azores Ivy, Hedera azorica

Azores Ivy

Azores ivy, although not commonly found in the Americas, is known for its invasive nature and its toxicity to pets. This climbing ivy has medium to lime green leaves, each with five points, creating a distinct heart-shaped appearance. Like other Hedera plants, it produces small yellow flowers and berries, though they are toxic and should not be eaten. While this ivy vine may be visually appealing in its native Portugal, it should be avoided in other locations.

Boston Ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Boston ivy is highly sought after among ivy enthusiasts for its trailing green foliage, which beautifully blankets brick buildings and other structures. During the fall season, the leaves of Boston ivy transform into gorgeous autumnal hues, making it a popular choice over evergreen Hedera ivies. While this plant thrives in full sun, it requires partial shade in hotter climates. It’s important to remember that Boston ivy is invasive in most areas, so regular trimming is necessary when growing it as an outdoor plant.

Canary Island Ivy, Hedera canariensis

Canary Island Ivy

Also known as Algerian ivy and Coney Island ivy, Canary Island ivy is native to temperate regions, particularly zones 7-9 in the United States. This evergreen plant features large, dark green leaves that are perfect for ground cover or climbing. Similar to other Hedera varieties, Algerian ivy grows quickly and can quickly take over a space if not kept in check. It’s important to handle this ivy with care, as it can cause severe irritation if touched, making it unsuitable as a houseplant.

Creeping Charlie, Clechoma hederacea

Certain types of ivy plants, like creeping Charlie or ground ivy, are sometimes more of a nuisance than an appreciated plant. Outdoors, creeping Charlie tends to take over lawns, spreading through seeds or stems that develop root nodes on the ground. However, when grown as an indoor ivy plant in hanging baskets, creeping Charlie takes on a new charm. Its rounded, heart-shaped green leaves with scalloped edges and pretty purple flowers make it a delightful addition to any home. Creeping Charlie thrives in shaded areas with ample moisture, making it easy to grow indoors or around trees and shrubs.

Cyprus Ivy, Hedera cypria

Cyprus ivy is a rare find for most collectors, as it exclusively grows naturally on the island of Cyprus, situated just west of Syria. This ivy plant stands out from others due to its unique coloration. The leaf appears predominantly greyish-white due to the veins, with green acting as an accent color. The leaves of Cyprus ivy are long and slender, adding an elegant touch to any collection.

English Ivy, Hedera helix

English Ivy

English ivy, also known as California ivy or needlepoint ivy, is a favorite among ivy enthusiasts. With over 400 varieties to choose from, Hedera helix offers an array of leaf shapes and color patterns, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Standout varieties include Manda’s crested ivy, known for its light green color and curling leaves, and Goldchild ivy, which features bright yellow edges framing a green center. English ivy is considered invasive in many areas, so it’s best suited as a houseplant. If grown outdoors, regular pruning is necessary to prevent it from overtaking other plants and structures.

German Ivy, Delairea odorata

German ivy, also called cape ivy, can be found along the coast of California and in the San Gabriel Mountains. It forms dense mats that can suffocate surrounding plants and produces woody vines. This ivy plant can reproduce through seeds or by sprouting roots along its underground rhizomes and stems. Once established, it can be challenging to remove. However, its bright green leaves and thick carpet-like growth are undeniably beautiful.

Gloire de Marengo Ivy, Hedera algeriensis

Gloire de Marengo ivy is often confused with Canary Island ivy due to their shared name, Algerian ivy. However, these two species have distinct appearances that make them easy to differentiate. Gloire de Marengo ivy features dark green and grey-green leaves with a creamy white or yellowish edge. It is commonly kept indoors but can also thrive in outdoor zones 6-11.

Himalayan Ivy, Hedera nepalensis

Himalayan ivy, also known as Nepalese ivy, is native to the Himalayas, including Bhutan, India, Nepal, and parts of Southeast Asia. Despite its origins in colder regions, this plant is best suited for zones 7-10. Its leaves have five points, with the middle point being slender and longer than the others. Himalayan ivy is somewhat drought-tolerant, but it thrives when provided with consistently moist soil. While it prefers partial shade, it can tolerate full sun if necessary.

Iberian Ivy, Hedera iberica

Iberian ivy is native to the temperate climates of Portugal, southern Spain, and northern Morocco. What sets it apart from other Hedera varieties is its three rounded points. The sides of this North African ivy tend to look circular, while the middle point is more pronounced. Ideally suited for zones 8-10, Iberian ivy thrives in warm weather and cannot tolerate cold temperatures, making it a great choice for indoor cultivation in most parts of the United States.

Irish Ivy, Hedera hibernica

Irish ivy, also known as Atlantic ivy, is an adaptable plant that can tolerate a wide range of conditions. It can grow in full shade, full sun, or somewhere in between. Irish ivy prefers zones 7-8, making it suitable for outdoor cultivation in those regions. The leaves of this ivy are medium to dark green and have white veins. With their three points, the leaves often resemble a heart or a triangle.

Japanese Ivy, Hedera rhombea

Japanese Ivy

Japanese ivy is native to eastern Asia and is well-suited for zones 8-9. Its deep green leaves are variegated with white edges, and occasionally, you may come across a leaf that is predominantly white. This ivy can thrive in full sun, partial shade, or dappled sunlight, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor cultivation. However, it can cause skin irritation, so it’s important to handle it with gloves and keep it away from children and pets.

Madeiran Ivy, Hedera maderensis

Madeiran ivy is native to the Madeira Islands west of Portugal. It is closely related to Iberian ivy, as these two species are natural neighbors. Madeiran ivy features broad green leaves with yellow veins, which can grow up to eight inches in width. Unlike other ivy varieties, the leaves of this plant have a leathery texture, and their points aren’t as pronounced, allowing them to take on a heart-like shape.

Moroccan Ivy, Hedera maroccana

Native to Morocco, North Africa, Moroccan ivy prefers the temperate climate of zones 7-8. It boasts reddish stems and glossy foliage that is sure to catch your eye. The leaves have three to five defined points, giving them a sharp and distinct appearance. With moist soil and moderate sunlight, this ivy thrives and produces green flowers and berries, just like other Hedera varieties.

Persian Ivy, Hedera colchica

Persian ivy, also known as Colchica ivy, is often used as a ground cover due to its ability to form a thick carpet under ideal conditions. It thrives in partial or full shade, preferring zones 5-9. When grown as a ground cover, mowing with a rotary mower can help control its height. Persian ivy leaves are dark green with white veins and have a leathery texture. However, they can be prone to pest problems, making them slightly more high-maintenance than other ivy varieties.

Russian Ivy, Hedera pastuchovii

Russian ivy is closely related to Cyprus ivy and can be found both on the island of Cyprus and throughout the Caucasus region. Compared to Cyprus ivy, Russian ivy grows at a slower pace and lacks the distinctive white coloration, appearing as a solid green.

Swedish Ivy, Plectranthus verticallatus

Swedish Ivy

Swedish ivy, though not a true ivy, has gained popularity in Sweden despite being native to the Pacific Islands and Australia. It’s sometimes referred to as creeping Charlie, but it should not be confused with Clechoma hederacea, a troublesome lawn weed. Swedish ivy boasts small glossy green leaves on a reddish vine, making it a great choice for hanging baskets due to its lush and bushy appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Delairea odorata

Q: How do I identify the type of ivy I have?

A: Identifying different types of ivy can be a bit challenging due to the vast number of varieties. The best way to determine the type of ivy you have is by examining the shape of the leaves. Some Hedera species have heart-shaped leaves, while others have distinct points.

Q: How many varieties of ivy are there?

A: The genus Hedera, which includes all true ivies, comprises 15 species. Each species has several different types within them. Hedera helix alone has over 400 varieties!

Q: Is there a difference between ivy and English ivy?

A: English ivy refers specifically to the species Hedera helix. Other ivies belong to the genus Hedera and are still considered ivies. However, it’s worth noting that Boston ivy and creeping Charlie, although commonly referred to as ivy, do not belong to the Hedera genus.

Q: What kind of ivy is suitable for growing on houses?

A: Most ivies can be grown on houses because their aerial roots allow them to cling to surfaces. English ivy (Hedera helix) and Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) are popular choices for climbing on trees and building exteriors.

Q: Does ivy prefer sun or shade?

A: Most Hedera species prefer partial shade, but they can tolerate full sun or full shade depending on the climate.

Q: Is there any difference between outdoor and indoor ivy?

A: There is no inherent difference between indoor and outdoor ivy. Ivy plants can be grown in both settings, but their success will depend on factors such as climate, moisture levels, and sunlight exposure.

Q: What is the purple ivy called?

A: Red flame ivy (Hemigraphis alternata) and purple waffle plant (Strobilanthes alternata) are often mistaken for ivy due to their sprawling growth patterns. However, they are not true ivies.

Q: Which ivy is the best for ground cover?

A: English ivy (Hedera helix) is an excellent choice for ground cover, as it can tolerate poor soil, sun, shade, and drought. It is considered invasive in many regions, so regular pruning is necessary to keep it in check.

Q: Is ivy toxic to dogs?

A: Yes, ivy plants from the Hedera family are toxic to both humans and animals. All parts of the plants are harmful if ingested and may cause skin irritation if touched.

With this guide, you now have a better understanding of the various types of ivy plants available. Whether you’re a seasoned ivy connoisseur or a beginner looking to add some greenery to your space, there’s an ivy plant out there that will capture your heart. Remember to choose the right variety for your environment and ensure proper care to keep your ivy thriving. Happy gardening!