Starting ivy from cuttings...any advice?

MidloMel(7a)February 9, 2005

I have one area in my front yard that is all Enlish Ivy. I'd like to take some cuttings and start some Ivy in my back yard. Is there a simple way to start propagation from cuttings?

Thanks fellow gardeners?


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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

I don't want to sound rude, but my advice for starting English Ivy from cutting is...DON'T!

- Brent

Here is a link that might be useful: Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 12:33PM
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I'm going to use them in planters - don't get your panties in a bunch.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:56PM
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There are very few plants easier to start from cuttings than English Ivy. Usually, if you have an established stand you can get into it and find plenty of pieces that are already trying to send out rootlets. If you can lay hands on these, just stick them in dirt or potting soil and success is virtually guranteed.

You can also start rootless cuttings from ivy quite easily. I generally use a rooting hormone such as Rootone, but only out of habit... I doubt that it makes a big difference.

Starting ivy from cuttings works best in spring and early summer. If you're very eager to get started now, you can also start ivy cuttings quite easily in a glass, jar or bottle in a sunny window. [When starting cuttings in soil, I prefer to keep them in a partly shady to full shade area]. Keep an eye on any ivy indoors, it frequently falls victim to spider mites... which are easy to control with soap and water so long as you are vigilant.

If you're trying to fill up pots quickly, don't be bashful about putting 20 or more cuttings in a single large (e.g. 5 gallon pot).

That being said, I like Brent and many other gardeners have come to view English ivy as an invasive weed. In containers, great, no problem. But once it escapes it can take over a landscape, dwelling or worse yet, unmonitored areas of wilderness.

Then again, what other plant takes full shade, full sun, is drought tolerant, a vigorous climber, is evergreen and adds classic charm to stone and structure?

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 5:47PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where the builder left common areas of wooded land. When I take walks I am disappointed at the huge swaths of land where the only undergrowth is English Ivy. Did the original grower purchase it for a container or just a little corner of their yard?

I don't think you will have too much trouble propagating English Ivy. A search at Google for "English Ivy Propagate" turned up 10,200 hits. Then again a search for "English Ivy Invasive" turned up 24,200 hits.

- Brent

Here is a link that might be useful: Controlling English Ivy, Arlington VA

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 9:10AM
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The original owner of our house planted a large swath of ivy in our front yard where it slopes to the road. It comes right up to my flower beds that are edged in timber and yes, it is a pain in the butt to cut it back when it starts to creep over into the bed. I hate it. It also looks crappy because there are other things growing up through the ivy, like weeds and some juniper hidden under it. I hate it. I plan on taking out the ivy on that front slope and sodding it - probably in the fall. However, I would like to take some cuttings from it beforehand to plant in window boxes that i'm going to hang off our back deck, so that they will trail down.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 9:40AM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

Okay, Melanie. You are forgiven! ;-)

shhh...just don't tell anybody that I planted Euonymus alata (burning bush) in my front border. That one is on the "Highly Invasive Species" list!

BTW, I have a hard time accepting Euonymus alata as being highly invasive. Sure it is way over planted, but it is one of my favorite shrubs. I love the bright green color, the beautiful fall color and the winter structure. I have not seen Euonymus alata growing wild. Does anybody know if 'Compactus' is considered just as invasive?

- Brent

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 2:18PM
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I know lots of people who don't like Ivy but I'm a fan of it myself, especially if you have a sloped yard like I do or have a place were nothing else will grow. Ivy will grow. You may have to keep it cut back from other plants and bushes or it will grow up in them too. I have an area in my back yard that used to be very shaded and on top of that there had been a driveway there once upon a time. I've mulched over the area and planted other things that didn't make it but in the process, there must have been a piece of Ivy in one of the pots of the plants I bought. It grew, and grew and now the whole area is covered with Ivy. I guess you could say it is invasive but only if you don't want it somewhere, kind of like they say a weed in only a weed if you don't want it to grow in your flower bed.

Now, in answer to you question, I dont' think you have to do much with Ivy other than stick it in the ground and it will grow. If you are trying to root it from cutting it probably wouldn't hurt to use Rootone or something like that but I don't believe it is absolutely necessary.

Good luck with your Ivy.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 4:37PM
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Mandyvilla(7a No.VA)

I also have a steep slope on a heavily wooded lot. Tried many things before I gave up and put in ivy. It survives where other things give up. If you watch it, it can be controlled. Erosion was is a bigger threat to me than ivy. SUZ

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 10:18AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Brent - compact or not, if it's E. alata, it's considered highly invasive. I inherited some with the house we brought (30 years ago), and I'm still trying to get rid of the roots --- evidently every teensy-tiny liddle rootlet has the capability of growing into a bush, and an endurance capacity almost that of bamboo. VA Dept. says highly invasive because of ease of spreading by birds; and not wanted because it overpowers/shades out native virginiana.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 2:55PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

Really, I am not part of the English Ivy police! From what I have read English Ivy is so shallow rooted it does very little to prevent erosion. Also, I do not completely understand how English Ivy matures, but at some point in its life cycle it will produce berries that can be spread by birds.

- Brent

Here is a link that might be useful: Yet another link (with some info on seeds)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 2:57PM
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juliat(z7 VA)

Apparently, English ivy grows deep roots sometimes, even through clay. It is very intelligent, as you'll see in this parable.

The house where we live previously had ivy on the property. All our neighbors have ivy still, and they like it, so there is quite a lot of it.

When the former owner sold this place, the builder razed the lot and put in a few feet of new dirt (clay, electrical tape, shards of brick, sharp screws...), over which he laid sod without realizing you're supposed to remove the plastic netting. Great builder, iffy landscaper.

The neighbors' ivy and wisteria and raspberry bushes all push through the fences between us, and I would rather have grass in the back to give our kids and dog room to run around. My husband does a little yanking each time he mows the lawn, but that alone does little to check the rapid advance of the ivy and wisteria. So I put on gloves, check that my will is still valid, and yank and RoundUp the tendrils several times each summer.

Now it's three years after we moved in, and last summer my husband was digging to put in the posts of a playset we bought from neighbors. There, three feet down and at least three feet away from the fenceline, were some fat, thriving English ivy roots, working their way over to our yard from a neighbor's yard! I guess their thinking is, if they can't come through the fence, they'll just sneak way, way under it. (The wisteria does that too, but that's a well-known trait of wisteria.)

Every time I think I've learned something about plants, they teach me a new trick.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 11:03PM
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susanargus(z7 NoVA)

Now I finally understand why I see folks mowing their ivy! I thought they were nutty, but now I learn they are being responsible. Thanks to all for the links.

I live near Dora Kelly Nature Park in Alexandria, and there are entire sections of the woodland blanketed in English ivy. Nothing moves there - no birds at all. It is easy to see that it came from the backyards that abutt the park.

What ivy(ies) have you folks grown in Virginia? My mother has an ugly sound wall of Boston Ivy in Herndon that looks beautiful in summer breezes.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 11:11AM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Coupla things-
Ivy will not bloom and go to seed until it is way up in a tree. The ivy on the ground is a juvenile form, the mature leaf looks a bit different. If you can get a cutting of mature ivy, it will stay mature and you can grow it as a tree form (kinda like those Wisteria 'trees' you see sometimes).

Boston Ivy is not a true ivy, not the Hedera family. It's in the grape family, along with Virginia Creeper.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 7:06PM
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kcassidy(7 Maryland)

Mature Ivy makes a nice upright evergreen plant like hollies, but my observations is that the lower branches revert back to the juvinal state. A good power mower can take care of that!
Incidently most nurseries in the Washington DC area, particularly the Behnke Nursery company in Beltsville
discourage people from buying this plant! Supposedly it's headed for the noxious plant list here in Maryland!

It really does root quite easly, if you pull it up you will find root 'initials' all along the stem where it came into contact with the ground.

Sticking in a good, well drained media will probably work, no need for hormones.

Mike Cassidy

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 10:12PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I live across the Potomac from Harper's Ferry. (& NOVA) English ivy is a serious problem in Harper's Ferry and in some areas along the C&O Canal. You would not believe how E ivy can take over an entire area after many years. It's very difficult to remove after it has become deeply established.

There's none in my immediate neighborhood that I know of. Yet I find young plants growing in my yard all the time. Virginia creeper is a native plant that's much more interesting and far more enviromentally friendly than English ivy. V creeper also has nice fall color.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 11:31AM
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One good thing about the English Ivy, is that in the NASA clean air study, they showed that it removed formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air. It lists in the 10 top pollutant removing plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wiki - Clean AIr Study

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 3:35PM
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The lady's question, which only one or two of you answered) was how to START English Ivy from cuttings. Most of you have taken up time and space just to talk about your profuse "acres" of Ivy with no contribution to the answer. Thanks to the two genle folk who did provide and answer which I will use to propagae my meager supply of Ivy on my penthouse deck.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 9:33AM
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After much research, I've decided that I would like to plant ivy along all the boundary lines of my property.

Yes I've read over and over how horrible these plants are. But I can't seem to shake the image of a yard in our town whose fence is thickly covered with ivy which never seems to touch the ground. It's beautiful and it grows fast. An elegant, evergreen privacy screen and wind screen.

But I'm not planting it tomorrow. And I am still concerned. Please do not pummel me with tales of ivy disasters. I've already read many such stories.

One thought alone will deter me. Based on the previously mentioned yard, I've developed a theory that if I train the ivy upwards, and the fence is high enough (6 ft. - ivy grows to 9 right?), then I can have a super cheap, fast, privacy screen. Just a note on the fence height; I figure 6 ft. will work because the ivy will fully cover my side but only half of the neighbour's, hence I don't need to worry about the ivy touching the ground on their side and having babies. But I can't seem to find an actual confirmation of this. Thus, for clarification, my question is; if I carefully train the ivy onto the fence, will it stay there and not try to creep into my grass or into the neighbour's yard?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 12:14AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

organic, no it will not stay there.It will definitely grow down to the ground as well as up the fence-on both sides. I speak from experience :(

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:30PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

organic, also, it will grow higher than 9 feet. The woods behind our property has ivy growing up the oaks as high as 20-25 feet on some of the oaks which it will eventually kill. From the National Park Service:

"English ivy is a vigorous growing vine that impacts all levels of disturbed and undisturbed forested areas, growing both as a ground cover and a climbing vine. As the ivy climbs in search of increased light, it engulfs and kills branches by blocking light from reaching the host treeƂs leaves. Branch dieback proceeds from the lower to upper branches, often leaving the tree with just a small green "broccoli head." The host tree eventually succumbs entirely from this insidious and steady weakening. In addition, the added weight of the vines makes infested trees much more susceptible to blow-over during high rain and wind events and heavy snowfalls. Trees heavily draped with ivy can be hazardous if near roads, walkways, homes and other peopled areas. On the ground, English ivy forms dense and extensive monocultures that exclude native plants. English ivy also serves as a reservoir for Bacterial Leaf Scorch (Xylella fastidiosa), a plant pathogen that is harmful to elms, oaks, maples and other native plants."

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:38PM
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"First year it sleeps, seconds year it creeps, third year it leaps" isn't a fairy tale.

I like it. Don't get me wrong. But I have learned that stuff has to be controlled, so plant it in an area you can envision it as a solid carpeting. Then decide how to keep it there.

I moved back to my family home a few years back after it sat unlived in for several years. I had no grass. I had ivy. In fact I had ivy up to the roof, that along with Virginia Creeper, which literally encircles the house.

It has taken so much effort to just get it contained enough to try and have grass (it's hazardous to trip over the ground vines) and I try now to keep it just under the front windows. I do find myself trying to root every piece that gets ripped up because I just can't bear to lose a pretty plant.

They are easy to keep going - find a section already wealthy with roots, try the water jar method or just take a nice piece and lay atop the ground, secure with a pin, water and wait for those ground roots to develop.

I have decided the only way to get my conscience off my back when I have one of these big clearings (say for instance when you are seeing mice and snakes at your front windows and doors, is to put the big bundle on some parcel of ground that might be not quite so tended to, and toss them there. Something will grow. It's better than poison ivy!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 2:37PM
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I haven't visited the site for several months and I am so glad I did today. At that time on this subject there was a manure load of people talking about their scads of Ivy on the acres and acres of property. The question was the same but maybe one person addressed the question. I wrote in a comment and B...d and it seems based on what I see today it had some effect. Thanks to this site I have had success with English Ivy cuttings. This season I am trying some "root" cuttings dipped in Rootone. I have round that once established indoors, English Ivy loves to be spritzed. I love English Ivy indoors since for me it is one plant that brings the outdoors in.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 8:21AM
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I have a lovely, large-leafed, variagated ivy which I've tried to take cuttings from, on several occasions, without any luck! :( I've tried both methods: i.e. placing leaf-free stem in water to try and get it to root and planting cuttings directly into the garden soil. However, I have not had any success with any of the cuttings! :( What am I doing wrong???!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 4:41PM
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