Hedera, ivy, Hedera canariensis, Hedera helix, Hedera chrysocarpa, Hedera colchica, Hedera hibernica, Hedera himalaya, Hedera japonica

Hedera, ivy, Hedera canariensis, Hedera helix, Hedera chrysocarpa, Hedera colchica, Hedera hibernica, Hedera himalaya, Hedera japonica

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Classification, origin and description

Common name: Ivy.
Kind: Hedera.

Family: Araliaceae.

Etymology: from the Latin hedera.
provenance: temperate areas of Europe, the Canary Islands, North Africa, Asia and Asia Minor.

Genre description: includes 15 species of climbing plants, evergreen, rustic, easy to grow due to their tolerance to low light and direct sun, atmospheric pollution and drought. There are also suitable ones for growing in apartments. Ivies have two types of branches: young and adult. The former, of herbaceous or semi-woody consistency, have aerial roots, which allow the plant to attach itself to any type of support, and lobed leaves; the second, arborecent, do not have aerial roots and have whole leaves with wavy margins. It is the latter that produce flowers and fruits and which must be used to obtain cuttings.

Hedera helix (website photo)

Species and varieties

Hedera canariensis: native to the Canary Islands and northern Africa, this very vigorous species can reach 4-6 m. tall and has leathery, lobed, rope-based and variable color leaves from green in summer to bronze-green in winter with green-gray and white speckles other than leaf to leaf. Often completely white leaves appear at the tips of the branches. The young specimens branch with difficulty even if they are topped and do not have adventitious roots, which appear only after the lignification has taken place. It can tolerate frost, as long as it is not too long. It is not suitable for heated rooms, where it deteriorates quickly, also due to the attack of the red spider mite. Potted plants do not tolerate direct sun. It does not require high environmental humidity but does not disdain washing of the foliage. On the market there are several varieties: "Azorica", very vigorous with light green leaves, 5-7 lobes that are not very developed and young stems covered with brown hair; "Variegata or Gloire de Marengo", which has dark green leaves, lighter in the center, with white-cream or silver-gray margins; "Margino-maculata", which presents variegated green leaves of cream-white color and red stems and petioles.

Hedera chrysocarpa o poetica o poeticarum: not very vigorous species, it is characteristic for the production of golden yellow fruits.

Hedera colchica o amurensis: native to Iran, this very vigorous (grows up to 6-9 m. tall) and rustic species has large leaves (20-25 cm long and 15 cm wide) ovate and heart-shaped, green in color dark. On the market there are several varieties among which we find: "Dentata", with leaves with a toothed margin and dark green in color with purple nuances; "Variegata", with light green leaves with cream-white margins and spots.

Hedera hibernica o scotica: very vigorous species with large green leaves, sometimes spotted with cream-white, as in the "Maculata" variety.

Hedera himalaya: native to the Himalayas, this climbing species reaches 4-5 m. in height. It presents the phenomenon of heterophyllia: on young branches the leaves have a pinnate-lobed shape; while on the adult branches they are ovate-oblong or oblong-lanceolate, cordate at the base.

Hedera japonica o rhombea: a little cultivated species that presents, in the "Variegata" variety, leaves and with white-cream margins.

The Hedera helix species is left last, since it is the one that gave rise to most of the varieties on the market today, especially as regards those suitable for growing in pots (both on the terrace and in the apartment).

Hedera helix: this widespread species, which represents the common ivy, in Italy grows up to 15-30 m. The glossy dark green leaves, with silvery spots along the ribs, have the foil about 10 cm wide. and divided into 4-5 lobes. Many varieties have been created that are suitable for outdoor and pot cultivation (in greenhouses and apartments).
Among the many varieties of Hedera helix we remember:
- "Cavendishii" of low size which has leaves with white spots;
- "Emeral Green" with beautiful bright green foliage;
- "Pink Oak" with characteristic half-star leaves that appear on the reddish stems;
- “Aureo-variegata or Chrysophylla” which has yellow or variegated yellow leaves which tend to turn green;
- "Gold Heart or Jubilee" characterized by small triangular dark green leaves with a golden central part;
- "Minor e Minima" which have very small leaves;
- “Marmorata Minor” dwarf variety, which has dark green leaves variegated with white;
- "White Daimond" dwarf variety with white-spotted leaves;
- “California Gold” with bushy habit with green leaves with yellow variegations;
- “Silver Queen or Marginata” characteristic for the gray or blue-green leaves and with the cream-white margins, which turn pink in winter;
- "Tricolor or Marginata-rubra" which has green leaves with white margins which, in autumn, turn deep pink-red;
- “Conglomerata” bushy, non-climbing variety, with rigid stems that grow with a prostrate-ascending habit up to 60 cm. in height;
- "Sagittaefolia" which has five-lobed leaves, with a triangular and elongated central lobe;
- "Digitata" which has broad leaves divided into five narrow lobes, reminiscent of the fingers of a hand;
- "Discolor" with small leaves stained with red and cream;
- "Cristata" which has slightly ruffled leaves.
Among the varieties of Hedera helix particularly suitable for growing in the apartment:
- "Calico" with a hanging habit, with variegated white leaves with pink shades, which also appear on young stems;
- "Chicago" with small green leaves;
- "Chicago Variegata" which compared to the previous one has cream yellow margins;
- "Conglomerata erecta" suitable for cool environments, has dark leaves with long petioles, but adhering to the stems, with a woody consistency and suitable for climbing on supports;
- "Crispy Variegata" which has very small leaves with five or seven tips (similar to those of maple) with a variegated green cream-white sheet;
- "Deltoidea" variety suitable for low-light environments that grows over one meter in height and has sturdy and rigid stems and dark green heart-shaped leaves;
- "Filigram" characteristic for its particular resistance to diseases, it has leaves with a curled edge and long, reddish petioles;
- "Fluffy Ruffles" suitable for dry places (bathroom and kitchen to be avoided) and for climbing on supports, with large and dark leaves;
- "Glacier" variety with small leaves, bordered with white and spotted with silver-gray;
- "Golden Gate" suitable for warm and bright environments (near a window or a lamp), has variegated yellow leaves. It does not tolerate water stagnation and has a hanging habit;
- “Golden Ingot” similar to the previous one (both in terms of appearance and cultivation needs), it has a compact habit and more rounded and marbled leaves;
- "Ivalace" variety with compact habit with leaves with a pronounced tip and a dark and shiny green foil, so much so that it looks like glass;
- “Leopold” with a hanging habit with green-gray round leaves with cream variegations;
- "Minty" with small variegated leaves of light green and white (in winter also pink), needs quite bright positions;
- "Natasha" variety that adapts to low light environments, thanks to the dark green color of its heart-shaped leaves, and which has a hanging habit;
- "Silvanian" variety with a hanging habit with rhomboid-shaped leaves that, in the winter season, take on bronze shades;
- "Telecurl" suitable for low light environments, produces thin and numerous branches on which small dark leaves with curled edges appear;
- "Tripod" variety characteristic for its compact habit, slow growth and the shape of the leaves similar to a bird's paw;
- "Wonder" with dark leaves with rounded tips, prefers cool environments.

Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: the ideal temperature is around 15 ° C; the minimum winter temperature is between 0 and 7 ° C. In winter, they usually prefer cool environments, although there are varieties suitable for heated environments (e.g. Golden Gate and Golden Ingot) on the market lately.
Light: the lighting needs are different according to the variety. However, it should be borne in mind that plants with mottled leaves need more luminous environments than those with dark green leaves, which can adapt to decidedly darker places, such as entrances or corridors. The ivies with variegated yellow leaves also withstand direct exposure to the sun's rays. From April-May until autumn, the plants can be taken outdoors, in order to reinforce them and improve any variegations.
Watering and environmental humidity: the watering must be regular in summer (once or twice a week), reduced in winter (once a week). It should never be forgotten that the ivies in the apartment often deteriorate, because they are watered too often. It is a good practice to let the soil dry between one wetting and the other and let the water flow away without stagnating in the saucer. The habit of spraying the leaves, to recreate the humid undergrowth environment, exposes the plants to the risk of fungal diseases. It is advisable, once a month, to put the plants in the bathtub and to wash the foliage well with the shower, in order to eliminate also the dust; then let them dry well before putting them back in place.
Substrate: mixture of garden soil, potting soil and peat, with the addition of sand to increase drainage.
Special fertilizations and tricks: fertilize in summer every 15-20 days; in winter every 35-40 days. They repot in spring when the roots come out of the pot. In any case, every spring, it would be good to replace about 30% of the soil (practically exhausted) with new soil for vegetables, rich in organic substance.

Multiplication and pruning

Multiplication: the cutting method is used, at any time of the year, although it is preferable to proceed in July-August or October-November. The cuttings, 10-15 cm long, must be rooted in a container with a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts. It should be borne in mind that, if climbing specimens are to be obtained, the portions of the stem must be taken from young branches: those obtained from adult branches, in fact, give rise to plants with a bushy and non-climbing habit. The cuttings can also be rooted in jars filled with water and transplanted, in pots with peat and sand, as soon as they have emitted the roots.
Pruning: pruning of the ivy planted outdoors must be carried out in February-March and in summer, to limit their growth. The adult branches will have to be pruned in March and July, in order to keep the shape of the plant regular. For ivies grown in pots, pruning must be carried out in March-April, until the branches have grown "too much" to half their length. Cutting the longer branches favors the preparation of the plant.

Diseases, pests and adversities

- Leaves that dry: too dry and hot environment.

- Leaves turning black: too frequent watering or fungal disease.

- Leaves that lose their variegations: excessive fertilization or a poorly lit environment.

- Aphids: they are visible to the naked eye and cause the leaves to curl. They fight with specific products.

- Little red spider: mite that develops easily in hot and dry environments. It can be prevented from appearing by spraying the leaves and keeping the ambient humidity high (for example by placing the plant on a bowl filled with pebbles always kept wet, making sure that the water never reaches the bottom of the pot). It is fought with acaricidal products.

- Cotton mealy bugs: can attack plants, especially in hot and dry climates. You have to remove them, treat the plant with an anticoccidic product and raise the level of environmental humidity (the spraying and the washing of the leaves allow to eliminate the cochineals in the larval state). As an alternative to the chemical, the affected parts can be rubbed with a cotton swab wet with water and alcohol.

- Brown mealybugs: they occur with the formation of brown growths (determined by the small "shell") and giving the plant a blackish and sticky appearance (due to the production by the plant of sugary substances that make it subject to attack by fungi and fumaggini). They are fought by removing them and treating the plant with an anticoccidic product or by rubbing the affected parts with a pad soaked in water and alcohol.

- Young leaves with grayish spots: probable attack by thrips. They are fought with a specific insecticide and eliminating the affected leaves.

Video: Growing Boston Ivy (July 2022).


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