English ivy (Hedera) is more than just an evergreen climber for a shady wall. Many varieties make excellent ground cover and they also produce stunning foliage for cut flower displays and Christmas wreaths. Compact types are good for planting in pots and window boxes, spilling over the edge; they can also be grown as house plants.


Read out the best trailing house plants.

Ivy can also be used for topiary, trained over a wire frame.

English ivy is also great for wildlife. The green-yellow flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen in late summer and autumn, and the high-calorie berries provide food for birds in winter. Ivy can also provide shelter.

Contrary to popular opinion, English ivy does not damage walls or buildings, unless the structure has already damaged in some way.

Does ivy damage walls?

Here we list some of the best decorative types of ivy including green-leaved and variegated cultivars, to add interest and colour into your garden all-year-round.

Jasmine white scented evergreeen

Green English ivy

Green-leaved ivies offer an array of forms and textures, from the defined and bold, to the crimped and frilly.

Green-leaved ivies offer an array of forms and textures, from the defined and bold, to the crimped and frilly.

1 Hedera helix ‘Duckfoot’ Good for containers and often grown as a houseplant.
2 Hedera hibernica ‘Spetchley’ perfect in containers or over rocks and low walls.
3 Hedera helix ‘Lalla Rookh’ Good as groundcover or in containers.
4 Hedera helix ‘Triton’ This bushy ivy is best grown as groundcover or in pots or containers.
5 Hedera helix ‘Anita’ Its trailing habit makes it ideal for pots or for training over topiary frames.
6 Hedera helix ‘Ivalace’ With a dense, compact habit, it responds well to clipping.
7 Hedera helix ‘Pink ’n’ Curly’ A bushy plant, with waved, crinkled leaves.
8 Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ Lovely in pots or cascading over low walls.
9 Hedera helix ‘Parsley Crested’ Reaching just 90cm, it is perfect for low walls and excellent for groundcover. AGM.
10 Hedera helix ‘Cockle Shell’ A trailing form, popular for hanging baskets and window boxes.

Variegated English ivy: cream and yellow

Cream and yellow-flushed and variegated ivies light up shady walls and fences and contrast with dark, evergreen shrubs in pots.

Cream and yellow-flushed and variegated ivies

1 Hedera helix ‘Golden Ingot’ A slow-growing climber reaching up to 90cm.
2 Hedera helix ‘Jersey Doris’ Good on a dark fence or wall.
3 Hedera helix ‘Goldfinch’ Perfect for pots, over rocks or as ground cover.
4 Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’ A vigorous climber reaching up to 8m. Also good as groundcover.
5 Hedera helix ‘Buttercup’
A slow-growing climber up to 2.5m, and one of the best for colour.
6 Hedera helix ‘Amber Waves’ A compact climber or trailer growing to 90cm. Good for containers and baskets.
7 Hedera helix ‘Golden Girl’ A versatile ivy that grows fast for a variegated form.
8 Hedera helix ‘Oro di Bogliasco’ A vigorous climber, reaching 8m.
9 Hedera helix ‘Midas Touch’ A creeping ivy that rarely climbs, perfect for pots and containers, indoors or out.
10 Hedera helix ‘Luzii’ This fast-growing, medium-sized climber is popular as a houseplant.

Variegated English ivy: green and white

Green and white or cream variegations make uplifting backdrops as climbers, and enliven shady borders.

green and white ivies

1 Hedera helix ‘Sally’ Ideal for lighting up a shady wall, this is a slow-growing climber (to 3m).
2 Hedera helix ‘Misty’ Ideal for pots and as a houseplant.
3 Hedera helix ‘Heise’ A medium-sized climber.
4 Hedera helix ‘Silver King’ A good climbing and trailing ivy with five-lobed leaves, the central lobe longer than the rest.
5 Hedera helix ‘Chester’ An attractive climber, not too dense.
6 Hedera helix ‘Ardingly’ Attractive in pots and as floral decoration.
7 Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ A fast-growing climber. Good as groundcover on dry, shady slopes.
8 Hedera algeriensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’ A vigorous climber, growing up to 4m. Great on a shady wall.
9 Hedera helix ‘White Ripple’ An attractive climbing or trailing ivy. Grows to 3m.
10 Hedera helix ‘Little Diamond’ A dwarf, bushy ivy. Good in pots and indoors.


Most ivies are classified with a hardiness rating of RHS H5, USDA 6a-11, although sheltered situations have a great influence, and plants grown in pots in colder regions may need winter protection. Hardiness ratings are explained here.


Where to buy English ivy

Buy a wide selection of ivy at Fibrex Nurseries, Honeybourne Road, Pebworth, Warwickshire CV37 8XP.
Tel 01789 720788, fibrex.co.uk.