10 Types of Ivy Every Plant Lover Should Know

overhead view of white and green variegated ivy houseplant in pot with succulents and watering can

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Ivy can grow just about anywhere—in parks and around office buildings, in front yards, and all over college campuses. And while ivy looks beautiful filling in landscaping or climbing up an exterior wall, many types of this vigorous vine can also be grown indoors. These variants have been bred for more compact growth habits, smaller leaves with tighter spacing, and unique coloring or leaf shapes.

Since they're such aggressive—sometimes even invasive—growers, ivy plants are very hardy, able to withstand full sun, partial shade, or even full shade (although the coloring of variegated species will fade without sufficient light). They like to dry out between waterings, making them relatively drought tolerant. Many ivies are also evergreen, keeping their lush foliage all year long.

Read on for our 10 favorite types of ivy to grow, whether you're looking for a hardy plant for the garden or a trailing, compact indoor species.

Meet the Expert

Alexandra Jones is a certified Master Gardener in Philadelphia. As an indoor and outdoor gardener, Jones is an author in topics covering gardening, climate, urban farming, and sustainability.

01 of 10

English Ivy

closeup of English ivy plant with green leaves inpot on windowsill

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sun to full shade
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.8

English ivy, or Hedera helix, is the iconic ivy we see growing on walls and as groundcover outdoors. Left unchecked, it's a vigorous grower and climber, with vines reaching up to 100 feet long. In fact, English ivy can be so invasive that it's sometimes listed on invasive species lists—so be sure to check with your local extension office to make sure it's okay to plant this species outdoors where you live.

Despite its typical pestering nature, English ivy has been bred into dozens of compact houseplant varieties with charming colors, cute leaf shapes, and more tightly-spaced leaves that work better for container growing. When growing English ivy cultivars as a houseplant, give the plant lots of bright light, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. It's also a good idea to give the leaves a shower every once in a while to remove dust.

02 of 10

Swedish Ivy

closeup of Swedish ivy plant with round green leaves with white borders

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  • Botanical Name: Plectranthus australis
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 4.0 to 7.0

Despite its common name, Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis, also known as Swedish begonia and creeping Charlie) is not actually related to English ivy or other ivies in the Hedera genus. Instead, this fast-growing trailing vine is native to Australia, Africa, and India. In addition to the green variety, variegated types of Swedish ivy feature green leaves with white margins.

Display your Swedish ivy in bright, indirect light, but keep it out of harsh sun. Allow the soil to dry out before watering, and take care to fertilize the plant minimally to prevent it from outgrowing its pot too quickly. Since the plant doesn't respond well to pinching or pruning back overgrowth, simply trim off tip cuttings and root them to make a new plant if it's leggy or potbound.

03 of 10

Glacier Ivy

closeup of English ivy 'Glacier' with bright green pointed leaves and white borders

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix 'Glacier'
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

Glacier ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier') is just one of the many types of variegated English ivy bred for indoor growing. However, it can also be planted outdoors as a groundcover, where its shades of green and cream can provide a backdrop for brightly-colored plants and flowers. While this plant can survive in shady conditions outside, it does best with at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Use a well-draining potting soil and allow it to dry out completely between waterings. Keep pets away from the foliage, which can be toxic to cats or dogs if consumed. This, in addition to its elegant trailing leaves, makes Glacier ivy an excellent candidate for hanging baskets and high shelves.

04 of 10

Needlepoint Ivy

'Needlepoint' ivy houseplant in white and black pot against white brick wall

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix 'Needlepoint'
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or full shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

This type of English ivy (Hedera helix 'Needlepoint') is named for its leaves, which have three to five lobes that have been bred to taper in long, thin points. This unique leaf shape gives it a pleasantly-open, angular texture, adding variety amongst a display with lots of other plants. It also makes for a particularly attractive trailing plant or hanging basket.

This hardy, relatively drought-tolerant plant can also be planted outdoors as ground cover or as a climbing vine near a wall, fence, or trellis.

05 of 10

Boston Ivy

full frame of Boston ivy leaves colored red, green, and yellow

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  • Botanical Name: Parthenocissus tricuspidata
  • Sun Exposure: Direct or bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 8.0

Most common varieties of ivy are evergreen, keeping their lush color year-round. But Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is different. This vigorous climber changes color with the seasons, shifting from deep green to yellow, orange, red, and finally deep maroon in the fall. This makes it a prized ornamental plant for yards and public spaces like college campuses.

Boston ivy grows best in full sun and is an unfussy, drought-tolerant plant. Prune back aggressive vines as needed in wintertime, taking care not to pull the vines from walls, which may damage the surface beneath.

06 of 10

Algerian Ivy

Algerian ivy 'glory of marengo' with dark green, pale green, and cream white variegated leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera canariensis
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5

Native to North Africa and the Canary Islands, Algerian ivy (Hedera caneriensis or Hedera algeriensis) is an ideal outdoor plant for warm-weather climates. This species typically features solid green leaves. However, variegated types, like 'Gloire de Marengo' (H. canareniensis Variegata), which has dark and pale green-splotched leaves with creamy white borders, are also available.

Ensure that this plant has a rich, well-drained soil and enough water to stay evenly moist. Even without a trellis or other support, it climbs up walls easily. Prune it back regularly to keep growth contained.

07 of 10

Irish Ivy

Full frame of dark and bright green Irish ivy leaves outside

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera hibernica
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sun to full shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.5

Like English ivy, Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) is an aggressive outdoor garden grower that's considered invasive in some areas. Because of this, it should be planted outdoors with care and pruned back regularly. While Irish and English ivy look very similar, Irish ivy's leaves tend to be larger, and its veins are light green, not white.

The leaves also have a sweeter smell when crushed than English ivy's. This plant is more invasive than its English cousin, and in fact, much of the widely-spreading ivy seen growing outdoors and on buildings is actually Irish ivy.

08 of 10

Bettina Ivy

English ivy 'Bettina' cultivar with pale green leaves rimmed with white in orange terra cotta pot on white background

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  • Botanical Name: Hedera helix 'Bettina'
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 7.5

Another variety of English ivy bred to be grown as a houseplant, Hedera helix 'Bettina' is a compact, upright cultivar with just a hint of cream or white edging on its moss-colored green leaves. While it can be grown as a groundcover outdoors, Bettina ivy is an ideal type of ivy to keep in a small space, such as on a desk or counter.

Regular pruning will keep its vines contained. Water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil has dried out, and give it bright, indirect light. If you do want more vigorous growth, fertilize the plant twice a year with standard houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

09 of 10

Himalayan Ivy

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GETTY IMAGES/UNDEFINED UNDEFINED

  • Botanical Name: Hedera nepalensis
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or some shade
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 8.0

With diamond-shaped leaves emerging in three points, Himalayan ivy (Hedera nepalensis)—also known as Nepalese ivy—is a great breed to plant outdoors or in shaded areas inside your home. This easy-growing species needs full shade or partial sun to thrive in your garden. If you're planning to use Himalayan ivy as a groundcover or on a trellis outside, plant this ivy on the northern or eastern side of your home to protect it from the bright afternoon sun.

This variant of English ivy can survive in most types of soil, from acidic to basic, but it will grow best in slightly acidic soil around 6.5 on the pH scale. Himalayan ivy is also known for its yellow flowering blooms, and its bold, green leaves with white vein markings.

10 of 10

Persian Ivy

GETTY IMAGES/OZGURCOSKUN

GETTY IMAGES/OZGURCOSKUN

  • Botanical Name: Hedera colchica
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sun to full shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 8.0

Persian ivy (Hedera colchica), which has variants like sulphur heart ivy, is a vine that can grow outdoors to lengths of nearly 40 feet. This fall-blooming species has white flowers known for attracting pollinating bees. A hardy species, Persian ivy can thrive in all seasons, and grows in most types of potting soil (though its ideal soil is slightly acidic).

Variegated forms of this species can be grown indoors as houseplants, but standard Persian ivy is best in the garden to protect your soil from erosion. This evergreen plant makes a beautiful groundcover, and can be trained to grow along a trellis or other structures. In the garden, your Persian ivy will reach outwards to about six feet wide. On a vertical structure, your plant can grow up to 15 feet tall in its first five years—so if you're looking for a fast-growing ivy to cover a fence, sloping hill, or trellis, Persian ivy is a great candidate for your garden.

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