How to Identify Ivy House Plants

Written by tracy morris
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How to Identify Ivy House Plants
Ivy houseplants vary in appearance depending on their cultivar. (ULTRA.F/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

According to the book "Growing Beautiful Houseplants" by Rob Herwig, all houseplants were once wild plants. Houseplants started as plants that exhibited positive characteristics. For example, ivy plants trail from hanging baskets and climb up container trellises to form mini topiary. As container gardeners and homeowners brought these plants indoors, the plants adapted to the drier conditions found inside a home. There are several species of ivy that grow well as container plants. You can identify them based on appearance.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Consult the American Ivy society's website prior to identifying your plants (see Resources). There are three basic species of ivy commonly grown as houseplants: English Ivy, Algerian Ivy and Persian Ivy. Ivy plants can be further subdivided into cultivars based on their size and appearance.

  2. 2

    Examine the shape of the leaves. Algerian and Persian Ivies have heart-shaped leaves. Persian Ivy shapes vary slightly based on the cultivar. For example, dentata variegata have toothed leaves. English Ivy leaves have two lobes. These leaves vary in shape. Some resemble duck or bird feet, cross shapes or the club shape found on a playing card. Additionally, some cultivars have unusual leaf sizes and shapes that are not general to ivy varieties. Good examples include miniature ivies, fan-shaped ivies and curly ivies with ruffled leaves.

  3. 3

    Touch the leaf to feel the texture. Persian Ivy have a leathery texture and give off a pleasant fragrance when crushed.

  4. 4

    Measure the length and width of each leaf. Algerian Ivy has leaves that are between 4 and 8 inches long. Persian Ivy is up to 10 inches long. English Ivy has smaller leaves, but these leaves vary in size.

  5. 5

    Examine the leaf for mottled or striped colour. Ivy varieties have different variegation depending on the cultivar. For example, the Algerian ivy variegata has cream-coloured edges, and the Persian ivy dentata variegata has silvery-grey variegation. Misty, an English ivy variety, has silvery-grey leaves.

  6. 6

    Consult the American Ivy Society, your local garden centre or horticulturists or master gardener's with the nearest agricultural university's county extension service to help make a positive identification based on the characteristics of your ivy. Plant experts such as these have access to resources that you may not have and can help you make a positive identification of rare or little-known cultivars.

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