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Ivy Plants for Outdoor Containers

Updated April 17, 2017

Ivies are fast-growing plants that can trail over the side of containers or encouraged to climb a support. Many ivies have variegated leaves in interesting shapes adding an architectural element to a garden. Add further sculptural interest by training ivy plants to grow into topiary shapes.

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English Ivy

English ivy Hedera helix is the most common ivy species found in gardens. It is a climbing vine with aerial rootlets winding around trellises and other supports. The Eva cultivar has variegated green and grey-green leaves with broad, cream-coloured edges. Maple Leaf has deeply lobed, toothed leaves. It grows as a dense groundcover. The leaves of buttercup, or golden English ivy, turn a rich, yellow colour in summer. Glacier is one of the best variegated ivies to use as groundcover, yet it climbs rapidly if given a support. Its evergreen, silvery leaves have a white margin.

Persian Ivy

Persian ivy H. colchica is a hardy, self-clinging, climbing plant that thrives in moist, well-drained soil. Dentata has purple-red stems and dark-green, heart-shaped leaves. The Dentata Variegata cultivar has broad-based, leathery, green leaves with irregular margins and splotches of creamy white. Paddy's Pride has central yellow splashes on its bright-green leaves. Persian ivy does not adhere strongly to supports, but grows successfully as a dense groundcover.

Algerian Ivy

Algerian ivy is a clinging ivy with red stems and large, lobed leaves arranged alternately on the stem. Grown often as a groundcover, this ivy grows rapidly and is successful as a houseplant. The Glorie de Marengo variety has mottled grey-green leaves about 4 inches long and maroon stems. It tolerates dry shade and atmospheric pollution.

Growing Conditions

Although most ivies tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, using soilless mix in containers provides a balanced and nutrient-rich growing medium. Ivies thrive in part-shade sites, and most grow quickly. Regular watering encourages the plants' growth, although they are tolerant of dry conditions. Place a support, such as a post or trellis, in the container for the ivy to climb or leave it unsupported to encourage growth as a tailing plant. Ivies are easily trained to cover wire topiary forms in any shape.

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About the Author

Christina Ash has been writing since 1982, throughout her career as a computer consultant, anthropologist and small-business owner. She has published work in various business, technology, academia and popular books and journals. Ash has degrees in computer science, anthropology and science and technology studies from universities in England, Canada and the United States.

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