What Is Weeping Ivy?

Megan Shoop

Weeping ivy, also called English ivy, is a species of climbing vine frequently seen growing on the sides of buildings and on trees. As a domesticated plant, it is often cultivated and worked into topiaries or encouraged to grow on metal or plastic fences. It features shiny, green leaves with five to seven points, making them look a little like tiny hands. This plant is called weeping ivy because its vines develop an elegant, downward-curving droop before they attach and cling to nearby surfaces. Those wishing to grow weeping ivy should typically be prepared to keep it under strict control.

Weeping ivy, also called English ivy, can often be seen growing up walls, trees and fences.
Weeping ivy, also called English ivy, can often be seen growing up walls, trees and fences.

Like its climbing cousins, weeping ivy typically grows well in both rich and poor soils, though rich soils encourage faster growth and coverage. A slightly acidic fertilizer, such as peat moss, generally makes most soils into a favorable place for this plant to grow. The area should not be prone to flooding or feature soggy spots as weeping ivy does not like wet feet. Perpetually soaked ground could cause root rot. Those with soggy fence rows may amend the soil with compost, sand, and gravel to help it drain better.

When planted in a pot, weeping ivy usually grows well in either a peat, pearlite and vermiculite mix, or in a well-balanced potting soil mixed with a little compost. The pot should be at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) in diameter to give the roots plenty of room. Potted ivy should always be given something to grow on, otherwise, the vines will grow down around the pot and fuse to it, creating a pedestal of ivy. A topiary cage, miniature trellis, or even a simple wooden pole should work well. Some gardening stores also sell ivy cages that feature geometric shapes and animal silhouettes.

Generally, weeping ivy may be trained where the gardener wants it to grow when it reaches about 6 inches (15.24 cm) long. For topiaries, this usually involves gently wrapping the ivy around the base of the cage and securing it with a piece of cotton cord. The cord should not be tight enough that it bites into stem or leaves. Those training ivy onto a metal fence may simply pull the ivy upward and lean it against the fence. Gardeners may use thumbtacks to secure a strip of soft cloth across the sprout, holding it upright.

Most varieties of weeping ivy may be controlled with light pruning. Light green shoots may be pruned back in early spring and again in the middle of summer. This may not be necessary if the ivy is growing on stone or brick. It can eat away at wooden structures, however, and should be snipped away from these areas to preserve them.

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