Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) – Foliage Plants

Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) is an evergreen climbing plant that grows up to 20–30 m tall and also growing as ground cover where there are no vertical surfaces. It is ideal for covering walls and fences. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets which cling to the substrate. The bark is first green, but soon after it becomes gray. Old branches are light gray with a finely furrowed bark. It has glossy, broad, 5-lobed dark green leaves to 5 inches in width and produces clusters of small yellow-green flowers are followed by black berries. The whole plant and also the berries are slightly poisonous.

Scientific classification

Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Hedera
Species: H. hibernica
Scientific Name: Hedera hibernica (G.Kirchn.) Bean
Synonyms: Hedera canariensis var. maculata, Hedera grandifolia var. maculata, Hedera helix var. hibernica, Hedera helix subsp. hibernica, Hedera helix f. maculata, Hedera helix var. maculata, Hedera vegeta, Hedera vitifolia, Hedera helix ‘Hibernica’, Hedera hibernica ‘Sarniensis’
Common Name: Irish ivy, Atlantic ivy

How To grow and care for Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica)


Most cultivars of ivy grow best in bright light, but not direct sun. They tolerate low to medium light, but growth is reduced and variegated forms may turn all green. To maintain the bright color of a variegated ivy, give it plenty of light. Ivies can be grown with artificial light, or near a north, east or west window.


It grows well in any well-drained, moist, humus-rich, preferably alkaline soil.


Water Irish Ivy thoroughly, then let the soil dry to the touch to a depth of ½ inch before watering again. Although ivies prefer moderate humidity, they will tolerate normal low home levels. Raise the humidity by setting the plants on a tray of wet pebbles or perlite. Do not allow ivies to stand in water. Ivies benefit from good air circulation, and they should not be crowded.


Fertilize Irish ivy monthly while they are actively growing with a foliage houseplant fertilizer, according to the label directions. Do not use fertilizer when plants stop growing either in the heat of summer, or when temperatures are cool.


Propagation is by rooting stem or tip cuttings. Most types of ivy will root easily in water. Repot ivies when the plants become top-heavy or root bound or dry out too rapidly. The new pot should be no more than 1 inch larger in diameter than the pot it was originally grown in. Using too large a pot can cause the soil to stay wet too long and lead to root rot.

Pest and Diseases

Too much or too little water plus insects and mites are the main problems. Root rot usually results from a soil mix that does not drain quickly or overly frequent watering. Mealybugs, mites, aphids, whiteflies and scales are the most common insect pests of ivies grown as houseplants. If the area infested is limited you can prune out those parts of the plant.

Periodic washing can help prevent many pest problems. Wash plants by dunking the foliage upside down in a gallon of water to which insecticidal soap has been added. Hold the soil in the pot with a cover of foil or plastic.


Ingestion may cause severe discomfort, contact may irritate the skin. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling.

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