Ivy - Hedera helix


To the genus hedera belong numerous species of climbing, evergreen shrubs, widespread in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere; H. helix is ​​a species widespread in Europe and northern parts of Asia. It has thin, semi-woody, flexible stems, which become woody over the years; over the entire length of the ivy stems develop small roots, which anchor to the support that supports the plant, be it a tree or a wall. The leaves have a long petiole, sondi varying size, depending on the variety, usually shiny and fairly stiff, carried by a long petiole; the colors are various, from dark green to very light green, with a variety of variegated yellow or white leaves; they are trilobated or five-lobed, with lobes of various shapes, also on the same plant. Generally the fertile stems, or those that produce flowers, have poorly lobed, or even oval, leaves. In September-October at the apex of the stems it produces spherical inflorescences, consisting of small green flowers, followed by dark berries. The fruits and the ivy leaves they are toxic if ingested, but they are used in herbal medicine and also in pharmacology.


Family and gender
Araliaceae, genus hedera with more than 12 species
Habit Climbing, creeping, bushy
Exposure Half shade and shadow
Climate Some rustic, others not
Irrigation Always slightly damp soil
Multiplication Semi-woody cutting
fertilizing In jar every 15 days-1 month
colors Dark or light green, silver or golden variegations
Height From a few centimeters to more than 30 meters

The ivy plants don't fear the cold and can bear even very harsh temperatures; in fact, however, they fear the heat a little and do not like to receive the direct sun; It is therefore advisable to place it in a shady or semi-shaded place, away from light for most of the day. Some varieties, with small or slow-growing leaves, can be used without problems also as houseplants.


The genus Hedera is part of the Araliaceae family. There are about 12 species of climbing and creeping plants, evergreens, originating mainly from Europe, Asia and Africa. It can even reach 30 meters in height and is used to climb walls and trees. In nature, however, there are also specimens that tend to be mostly ground cover, as can be easily seen in all European forests. It has woody stems and climbs walls or supports thanks to adventitious roots. The leaves are generally lobed and leathery. In nature, the uniform dark green color is prevalent, but, as we know, in the gardens very numerous golden-variegated varieties with silver veins are widespread.


water regularly, trying to keep the soil slightly damp, but not soaked with water; however, ivas can withstand periods of prolonged drought.


generally they adapt to any type of soil, but they fear water stagnation, so it is good to use a well-drained soil.


The cultivation is rather simple and this explains the wide use in the gardens. In general, it is almost always a case of rustic plants and once settling they do not need great care, except for periodic possible containment pruning and the control of possible parasites. However, we will describe the specific needs in general.


it happens by seed, in spring, or pear cutting. For a quick rooting it is also possible to make some portions of the stem, placing the branches that already have aerial roots in the container; these plant parts root very quickly. The ivies have a very vigorous growth; s we don't have much space available or we don't want the pita to become a pest, let's remember to periodically prune the longer stems; this operation will also favor the development of a dense and branched shrub.

Pests and diseases

the ivies are very resistant, but can be attacked by mites and cochineal, especially the specimens grown in the apartment. Excessive watering or the presence of water stagnation can favor the onset of root rot.

Land and planting

These are very tolerant plants. The ideal is a medium-sized, fairly rich, but well-drained substrate. If our soil is too compact we can lighten it by adding sand and peat.


The needs vary between species and species. We can generally say that the ideal is to place them in half-shade-shadow. The variegated cultivars better tolerate the full sun. If we live in the southern regions it is better to avoid planting specimens with dark leaves in full sun. This would risk damaging the plant with the result of seeing countless dry leaves and the attack of annoying pests. However, an excessive shadow should also be avoided. In those cases unfortunately plants risk being attacked by insects like cochineal or metcalfa pruinosa.


In this respect it is necessary to distinguish the specimens of European origin from the more delicate cultivars. The former usually have no problems and even free from very cold winters (-25).
The seedlings sold in pots (usually they are to complete compositions) are hybrids of species coming from warmer areas: it is certainly better not to expose them to temperatures lower than 0 th.
During the summer they can instead be taken outside, in an area at least partially shaded. In this way they will grow faster and the greater exposure to light will accentuate any variegations.


Usually in the open ground, especially if exposed correctly, they do not need great attention. Certainly it will be necessary to irrigate abundantly after planting and to insist for a few months. It is usually a plant that is released with a certain speed. If we live in a warm area it is good to insist more. We avoid however to leave the substratum always too wet and we wait for it to be completely dry before intervening again. This helps the plant to create a deep and well branched root system. The potted specimens should be irrigated with a certain regularity. Here too it is better to avoid exaggerating: the dry is always preferable to too wet. The ideal is usually to intervene weekly in the vegetative period, fortnightly in winter. However, each case must be assessed independently and personally ascertain the soil's hydration. A widespread but totally incorrect practice is to vaporize the leaves. These are quite sensitive to various pathogens and are likely to be the cause of an attack. If you want to increase the environmental humidity, as is right, the ideal is to keep the specimen in a room by its own nature or to equip the radiators with humidifiers. Another good expedient can be to place under the plant a saucer filled with gravel and water which, by evaporating, improves the environmental conditions. However, always pay attention that the roots do not have access to the liquid. Like all plants kept at home, it will be necessary to clean the leaves from time to time, for example to remove dust or other deposits. My advice is to avoid the polishing products found on the market. Certainly they give a splendid appearance to the leaves, but some components could obstruct the stomata preventing transpiration. It is therefore preferable to simply clean them with a soft damp cloth or with a quick passage in the shower.


Plants kept in the garden usually, especially if the soil is rich, do not need special attention. If it is a particularly vigorous variety, it is advised against using fertilizers (especially nitrogenous species) which would force us to continuously contain prunings.
If it is a cultivar with normal growth it is possible to administer a balanced fertilizer, perhaps granular slow release, twice a year: at the end of winter and at the end of summer. In the second case, however, it is better to give a really minimal dose so that the growth is not stimulated even in winter, with the risk of frost for the new herbaceous branches.
Instead, the potted specimens go from March to October fertilized every fifteen days with a balanced liquid product. During the vegetative rest the administrations can be delayed up to one a month.


Pruning on garden specimens can be done at any time. Normally these are containment prunings, useful for keeping the plant tidy. However, the best time is spring or at the end of summer. It is possible to proceed with both hedge shears and special electric hedge trimmers. The diameter of the branches never becomes too large and therefore it is a job that can be done very easily. It should however be kept in mind that large plants are often laden with dust or insects, so it is good to wear a mask and a good headdress. Instead, the branches of potted plants should be cut at the beginning of the vegetative period. The ideal is to shorten them at least by half. This stimulates the regrowth and the greater coverage, giving the specimen a fuller appearance.


The multiplication is very simple to the point that we must pay close attention to the time of pruning because individual sheets left on the ground could take root!
If we want to obtain climbing specimens we must take, in spring or summer, sections of 10 cm from young branches, of the year (therefore at least still partially herbaceous). They should be placed in a very light mixture of sand and perlite and kept moist. Usually they root very quickly and within two months we see new leaflets appearing.


Ivies can be attacked by various parasites. Please note that in gardens it is very difficult for them to bring the plant to death. It is also true that they can damage their aesthetics as well as being a vehicle of disease for other plants. It is therefore very important to always monitor them carefully, preventing and eventually taking care of diseases.
If we live in very hot and dry locations it can happen that the leaves dry up early: to remedy it, we need to increase the irrigation and try to increase the environmental humidity.
The great heat, but also the very dense shade, can cause the attack by the brown or cottony cochineal. It must be activated as soon as possible by distributing a systemic insecticide mixed with mineral oil. Aphid attacks can also occur to fight with contact insecticides and ingestion. In potted plants the most frequent problem is related to root rot. The symptoms are the yellowing of the leaves and the lack of vitality. We must limit irrigation as much as possible and possibly flare and replace the substrate with a more draining one. It is also always important to put at least two centimeters of non-porous material on the bottom.

Species and varieties

Hedera helix is the common European ivy. In Italy it fits well almost anywhere. The leaves have dark green with lighter spots on the veins. However, there are countless cultivars on the market with leaves of various colors, from apple green to medium green. The golden and silver variegations are also very common. These are very useful to give light to particularly shady areas. Dwarf types have also been created that adapt to growing in pots both outside and in the apartment.
Hedera Canariensis comes from Africa. It is very decorative, but unfortunately it is difficult to cultivate, if not in southern Italy. In fact it is not very rustic, but at the same time it does not like to be treated as an indoor plant. Usually, if they do not grow in their natural environment (or in a similar one), they have a short life. They are however very used for their aesthetic beauty in floral compositions. This despite, for example, the variety "Gloire de Marengo" is very common in the gardens of the South.
Hedera Himalaya It is rather vigorous and quite rustic. The old and new branches carry leaves of different shapes.
Hedera colchica species suitable for the whole Italian territory, very robust and vigorous. It can grow up to 10 meters in height and carries very large leaves.

Ivy: Property ivy

In addition to the more ornamental aspect of the ivy, there are also various phytotherapeutic aspects of this plant that not everyone knows. It appears that the ivy has different beneficial and curative properties. This plant is supposed to be effective against cellulite, against aging but also against cough.
In fact, it is used in case of cooling syndromes to free bronchi and phlegm thanks to the expectorant action of saponins, toxic substances present in the leaves of this plant that stimulate airway release.
The use of ivy to obtain these supposed benefits should mainly be through compresses. Depending on the disorder you want to alleviate, the wraps will be placed in one area of ​​the body rather than another. To combat flu and constipation you will need to place the compresses on your chest and chest.
To take advantage of the anti-cellulite properties, the wraps will be placed where we want the ivy to work. In addition to these benefits, it seems that ivy packs can also be useful to reduce water retention and swelling.
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