Ivy was originally used as a ground cover plant but it can also grow over other objects. Ivy is purposely allowed to grow up walls, producing an old world charm. Ivy grows very quickly. Ivy is used to provide shade, to soften any harsh lines or strictly as a decorative element. There are many different types of ivy plants, all of them are excellent climbers.
Once the ivy plant is healthy and established at the bottom of the wall, tape the ends of the vines to the wall in the direction you want the ivy to grow. Avoid taping the very ends of the ivy as this is the growing tip; tape over the tip will stunt growth. When taping the ivy to the wall, make sure the tape is at least 6 inches apart as this allows for plenty of room for the ivy to grow. Eventually the ivy will grow enough that the ivy leaves will cover and disguise the tape.
Ivy can cause problems for mortar that holds bricks together so you may want to protect the wall. Instead of having the ivy stick to the wall, put up a trellis against the wall and train the ivy to climb the trellis. As the ivy grows simply twist and thread the ivy through the trellis slates and spaces. As the ivy grows the tendrils will automatically curl and hold onto the trellis. You will have to direct the ivy at first but as growth proceeds it will start to climb in the desired direction. You can also use wire mesh along the wall in place of a trellis.
To ensure that the ivy roots do not damage the wall it is climbing, make sure the ivy plant has a good water source by the roots. Ivy plants that do not get enough water will burrow into the cracks and wall to find water and this can be very damaging. Finding the right amount of water to ensure the ivy plant grows but does not damage the wall is tricky. It is recommended that once the plant is well established in the ground, stop watering for a few months to allow it to grow. Once it has covered the wall, begin watering again to prevent unnecessary growth and damage.
Pruning is very important when training ivy to grow up a wall. Once the plant runs out of wall space, it will stop growing aerial shoots and start to become very bushy. To ensure the ivy looks its best, pruning is required. Cut back all the shoots that are travelling over the gutters and the roof. Shear off much of the ivy on the wall in March to get rid of flowering buds and new shoots. When the ivy starts to flower it grows out rather than up and becomes very heavy, which can cause walls to collapse. Cut the new shoots off before they can grow much prevents the weight from accumulating. After a year or two of pruning a solid green wall of ivy results every year.
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