Ivy (Hedera)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Evergreen woody vine
• Zones vary
• Full sun; some shade in hot areas
• Regular to moderate water

Spreading at a moderate to fast rate, rugged, adaptable ivy makes a ground cover that always looks neat and uniform. Its deep roots hold the soil, discouraging erosion on banks; its branches root as they grow, further knitting the soil. When the branches reach a vertical surface, they will ascend it, clinging with aerial rootlets.

Trim around the edges of ground cover plantings to keep them tidy and in bounds. Plantings may build up a thick thatch of stems after several years; shear or mow them back in early spring. Set plants about 1 1/2 feet apart.

Algerian ivy (H. canariensis). Zones 8, 9, 12-28. Glossy, shallowly lobed leaves are especially large - up to 8 inches across.

English ivy (H. helix). Zones 3-34, 39; hardiest varieties in 35, 37, and warmer parts of 38 and 41. 3- to 5-lobed leaves up to 4 inches across are a matte dark green with paler veins. Many named varieties are sold, varying widely in foliage shape, color, and size.