Indoor Eden: Simple,Verdant Beauty… Twisting & Twining English Ivy

January 22nd, 2011 § 3 comments

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ – English Ivy Twists and Twines Round a Metal Chair in the Secret Garden Room

Busy about the Secret Garden Room this morning –potting, pruning and moving plants around to make room for new seed starts– I suddenly found myself driven to delightful distraction by my gorgeous friend, Ivy. Positioned as she is –right inside the double French doors– I routinely pass my lovely Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, whenever I enter or exit the garden room. But today, something about the way the light flickered behind her verdant, porcelain-edged leaves made me stop right in my tracks. Simply beautiful…

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ catches winter sunlight in the Secret Garden Room

English ivy likes to twist and twine, making it the ideal plant for wrapping around old metal chairs, bed frames and other ironwork. There are many ivy cultivars available, in all shapes and sizes. The colors and leaf patterns of Hedera helix range from the simple to the bold; in endless shades of gold, cream and green. I have a great fondness for the subtly variegated ivies; leaves with beautiful mottling and shadowy color combinations. Grown from a small softwood cutting, my durable H. helix ‘Glacier’ thrives in the filtered light and cool temperatures of my Secret Garden Room. Feeding –with a low-nitrogen organic fertilizer– will begin in spring and continue every two weeks through late fall. Ivy prefers slightly dry soil year round, and in winter, I reduce watering even further to prevent rot. I like to prune longer stems –especially those with large gaps between leaves– taking them back to a node located amid lush growth. This bit of regular maintenance helps keep the plant looking full and healthy. My lovely English ivy is currently insect free, however aphids, mealy bugs and scale are common ivy-pests, and can be controlled with insecticidal soap, neem and horticultural oil. And although regular misting usually keeps them at bay in my Secret Garden Room, spider mites can sometimes become a problem for ivy –indoors or out. Clip off and destroy mite infested parts where possible, and/or treat the ivy with a horticultural oil/soap mix.

Ivy is easily trained along walls with hooks and wire or fishing line. Here, Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ creeps along the rough-hewn hemlock between the double French doors.

English ivy may be common, but she’s also a stunning and remarkably versatile houseplant. In this dimly-lit indoor garden, the variegated leaves of ivy capture filtered rays of sun and enliven plastered walls. In summer, this plant lives just outside the garden room door, and in late autumn –before the hard freeze– I move her back inside. Over time, my variegated ivy has become one with her pedestal; winding her tendrils ’round the back, legs and seat of an on old metal chair. Because the seat is constructed of light weight metal, I can easily move the entire vignette back an forth with the seasons.  Ivy is easy to propagate. When pieces break off, I simply stick them in a pot of moistened soil and begin a new plant for a friend.

Much as a well-worn pair of blue jeans or fine old leather bag with a perfectly-aged patina adds character to a basic wardrobe, a lush pot of English ivy lends classic style to a low-lit room. Looking at my lovely old ivy in the sunlight today, I’m reminded to never underestimate the beauty and power of simplicity…

I love to watch sun spots dancing around the Secret Garden Room –the low light illuminating Ivy’s wild tendrils– while I’m tending to plants or working at my desk.

Discover more extraordinary ivy cultivars and find information on ivy culture at the website of The American Ivy Society.

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Article and Photos ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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§ 3 Responses to Indoor Eden: Simple,Verdant Beauty… Twisting & Twining English Ivy"

  • Lynda S says:

    I was planing to ask about the spider mites that plague my indoor ivy, but then of course you answered it here. Thanks! ;)

  • Michaela says:

    Hi Lynda, if you have an ongoing problem, you might want to try the following (in addition to regular misting). First, put your plant in the kitchen sink or shower and use the spray wand/shower head to wash away mites with lukewarm to cool water. Pat the plant dry and then mist all of the leaves, particularly the undersides with this home-made remedy:

    1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 quarts warm water.
    mix and put in a spray bottle

    Repeat the soap/oil spray every 3-5 days (to kill newly hatched mite) for at least a month. Keep an eye on it thereafter –checking with a magnifying glass beneath the leaves.

    I’ve been using this remedy for a long time and it’s quite good. Let me know how it goes.

    M

  • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Michaela, Ivy is my first ever and still favourite houseplant. The love affair started decades ago when I was flower girl in my Aunt’s wedding. It was the fashion then to have greenery in the bridal bouquet and everyone in the wedding party was given a sprig of her ivy to keep for good luck. I still remember the excitement of that day when I look at my ivy. Thanks for stirring the memories once again. xo D.

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