(from left) Grape ivy (top basket) philodendron cordatum (bottom basket); English ivy; waffle plant; pothos ivy; Swedish ivy. Available at Ruibal's Plants of Texas

Gardening

Ivy Makes a Comeback

This versatile plan has become de rigueur.

Before there were succulents and bleached driftwood, before lucky bamboo and money trees graced our sills and cubicles, we couldn’t get enough of ivy. This easy-growing statement plant of the ’70s added lush green accents to interiors in an era of burgeoning environmental awareness.

In houseplants as in fashion, though, what goes around comes around, and fabulously so. As classic as an old-fashioned girl’s name regaining popularity, ivy varieties are quiet staples for your green spaces. Outdoors, they appeal to eco-minded gardeners as low-maintenance ground covers, as well as to Anglophiles who dream of cottage gardens with green-carpeted walls. As indoor plants, they add no-fuss volume to interiors as diverse as an airy loft or grand living room. Or perhaps you’re in the mood for a fanciful topiary? Chances are, there’s an ivy in your future.

Ivy is a general name for vining plants with plentiful leaf variations—from deep solid green and waxy or to silvery matte, and from mottled greens and cream to streaks of gold. Despite the abundance of names with the ivy moniker, not all are true ivies. But don’t let that stop you from finding the perfect plant for your landscape, says Rusty E. Allen, education and outreach coordinator for North Haven Gardens.

When working with home gardeners who would like some ivy in their lives, Allen says he generally asks many questions about the effect that you want to achieve: Outside or inside, vertical or horizontal, able to withstand a freeze or more pampered? Then, he learns a little more about your space: Shade, partial shade, or full sun? Is soil well drained, in a raised bed, or in a pot? So many questions, yes, but so important to the long-term health of your ivy. Alas, “soil’s not sexy—plants are,” says Allen.

If your conception of ivy is the houseplant that stealthily creeps along a windowsill or grows with abandon in a favorite corner, chances are it’s the Scindapsus, or pothos, with plenty of looks for today’s indoor spaces. Popular varieties usually available at North Haven Gardens include N’Joy (deep green with cream edges), Neon (vivid light green), Golden, and Marble Queen (variegated leaves with strong yellow). For best results, place in a bright spot with indirect light and let dry out slightly between watering.

Whether your relationship with ivy is a serious commitment or a seasonal fling, show the love to this popular plant with smart design, careful planting, and care. She’ll love you right back. We promise.

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