Ivy, known botanically as Hedera, is the common name applied to 25 species of woody, evergreen climbing and ground-creeping foliage plants known for their attractive lobed leaves. Ivies may be used as dense ground covers or trained to grow along fences, trellises, walls, arbors or pergolas. Ivy can be easily propagated by seeds; it also grows well from cuttings. These shade-loving, low-maintenance plants may be cultivated in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8.
Ivy seeds must go through a special process known as scarification before they can be planted in your garden or home landscape. In the wild, birds eat the ivy seeds which are then scratched up, or scarified, in their digestive tracts. This scarification helps the ivy seeds to germinate and sprout more successfully. When cultivating ivy from seeds, you must perform this process yourself. The easiest way to scarify ivy seeds is to rub them between two sheets of coarse sandpaper until the outsides appear scratched or nicked.
Site Selection and Preparation
Ivy performs best in locations with partial sun to shade exposure. When selecting a planting site, look for a spot that gets direct sunlight for less that four hours per day and has fertile, well-draining soil. Till the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches with a garden spade or tiller; this makes it easier for the seeds to take root in your garden bed. Rake the tilled soil to a smooth finish before planting the ivy seeds.
Once the garden bed is prepared, planting your scarified ivy seeds is a breeze. Broadcast the seeds over the surface of the soil, distributing them as evenly as possible. Go over the area with a garden roller to ensure that the seed make good contact with the soil; if you don't have access to a garden roller, you can achieve the same outcome by firming the soil with the palms of your hands or the bottoms of your shoes.
Irrigate the garden bed with up to 3/4 inch of water after sowing the ivy seeds to initiate the germination process. Water the seeds every other day to keep the soil evenly moistened until the seeds sprout; this can take anywhere between two and four weeks. When the seedlings grow to 4 to 6 inches tall, spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch on the surface of the soil around them. Reduce the frequency of irrigation to once a week; water less frequently during periods of heavy rainfall.