English Ivy in Your Garden
More commonly known as the English ivy plant, Helix is an evergreen vine native to Europe and western Asia. It is a thick ground cover and is well known for its ability to climb vertical surfaces. It will grow sixty-some feet vertically if given a chance. This ivy forms a dense mat of growth perfectly suited to preventing soil erosion if built along the ground.
It has two sorts of leaves, depending on how it is grown. On creeping and climbing stems, the leaves have well-known five lobes. Rarely seen, the leaves on fertile flowering stems are unlobed and found high in the crowns of trees. It blooms in late summer; the flowers are relatively small and green. Berries are purple-black to orange-yellow and ripen in late winter, making them critical bird food.
The Helix is often planted in the home garden on hillsides and in poor areas where soil erosion is a concern. In a pleasant climate, the plants will overgrow, forming beautiful greenery as they root into the ground. They prefer areas with full sun to partial shade for best growth. Ivy will still grow in full shade but will not be as rapid. Well, the drained soil is best for this ivy, but it tolerates wet feet. If climbing is desired, plant the vine near a wall, building, or trellis. Some training at the beginning may be in order, but English Ivy will quickly take hold of the surface.
Caring for the English Ivy
Care of English Ivy is minimal. Water the plant lightly till it is established. If it rains at least an inch a week, do not water at all. After that, only water during extreme heat or drought. Helix here will not require much, if any, fertilizer. If desired, apply two tables spoons of slow-acting nitrogen fertilizer in the spring. English ivy grows densely as a ground cover and requires little care, but you may occasionally need to pull a stray weed.
In no time, your home and garden will be graced with the lush Old World style of English Ivy. Your hillsides will be green, the ivy on any wall or building is stately, and the overall effect is of a timeless English estate. With minimal work on your part and maximum impact in the gardens, it is a perfect garden plant for the home gardener.