English Ivy

Some of you absolutely cringe when I talk about these “invasive” plants.  I am personally of the belief that you can control these types of plants and make them beautiful – or at least, with English Ivy.

I’ve always loved the looks of ivy when it is kept controlled.  It can truly be beautiful, but it does have some benefits to certain landscapes such as erosion control.

I’m going to discuss a little about how I have used what I have and expanded my English ivy with rooting techniques (stay tuned for collecting seeds to use for next year’s plantings on a variety of plants…).

I’ve mentioned quite often on this blog that I have some nasty neighbors.  I could dwell on the negative or realize that without their nastiness, I would have never discovered some of the things I am currently doing.

I’ve been on a budget since quitting a controller position a year ago.  I still run my photography business in Maryland but the photography industry will never be what it used to be.   I’m trying to not cost the family extra money with my DIY hobbies, but at the same time, there are some things that are necessary.  For one, we had an issue with drainage during unseasonable rainstorms where a little mulch and sand whisked up and over the property line causing a hissy fit from a neighbor.  We have since been putting in natural filtration.  Although the Department of the Environment and Soil Conservation felt there were no issues, we do not want anything from our property to cross over and cause a problem because we want to remain peacekeepers.

And frankly, if you know me, I take these projects as challenges – they stimulate my brain and need to create.

16 years ago, I planted English ivy next to an old stump at the beginning of our driveway/next to the road.  I probably planted about 4 or 5 small 4-inch or so pots.  Now, Dean has to use the weed-eater to keep it in check.  When ivy gets established, it does very well.  It’s a great way to keep areas from eroding and along with some low growing juniper and my 50+ arborvitae at the fence line, it can help fill in and establish more filtration.

Warning:  If you have horses, ivy is poisonous to horses.  Do not grow where your horses can get to it – mine is completely out of reach.

It’s not a cheap plant.  I attempted to grow from seed this year and went as far as cold stratifying the seeds and then planting and watering.  I had gotten no return.  I’m not sure why.  To be honest, there is a better way –

Propagating English Ivy

Around my house, you can see pots with ivy – these are clippings that I have been propagating over a number of weeks….

I have found I can root English ivy cuttings two ways:

Rooting Hormone + New Growth

I’ve taken new growth cuttings from the ivy (you can tell it is new growth by it’s bright green appearance with a softer stem) and applied rooting medium/hormone.  It is a powder that you can purchase.  I added the powder to the cut stems and inserted directly into potting soil.  It would be wise to use a potting soil that is a bit on the sandy side to allow for drainage, but again, I’m out to save money, and I already had some all purpose soil here that I just used in some old pots and added gravel at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.


After a few weeks, you can see the root growth on these two stems – these are really nice.  I will leave them in the soil a bit longer and then move them to where I want them to grow forever.



Don’t know where to get rooting hormone?  Right here -This is the exact one I use — and can be purchased here.  

Cutting with Established Root

This is my tried and true method of propagating English ivy.  I feel this way is just easier with no real waiting.  My ivy near the road has tried to spread every year and we keep cutting it back.  If I look underneath the edges, I can find ivy that has the firmer more established stem and see where it has begun to root and pull it up, cutting a piece that contains root and some leaves.  This can be directly planted wherever I wish.

There are only a few things I have to do:

  • Make sure the top where the leaves are is not too big for the root.  Meaning, cut it down so the roots match the plant.  If I leave the plant three feet long but the roots are small, the roots will never be able to pull in enough water for the plant to thrive.  It’s best to cut it back.
  • Make sure that the small plants are watered daily until established.

Look at this root though – look how much nicer this root is than the one using the rooting hormone – that one will eventually get to this stage, but this one will establish quicker and be stronger right away.  That is why I prefer to use this method.

My ivy is definitely filling in at the property line and will be a nice addition for filtration.  There is is new growth and a nice healthy group of established plants.  I did place a light layer of sparse gravel throughout this area to keep any dirt from washing down hill into the neighbor’s yard.  I would have placed mulch but we’ve already seen that slide down the hill with accusations of it being horse manure.  *sigh*.  Keeping the gravel shallow and not deep, the ivy will still spread.  We have tested this gravel several times already in the past month with huge rains that came down – nothing was disturbed.  It was perfect.