Algerian Ivy Plant Profile

Variegated green and white ivy with red stem.

 Megan Hansen / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This sturdy, shade-loving, fast-growing plant makes a reliable and attractive ground cover. It is adaptable to a wide range of climates and soil conditions. There are variegated varieties and solid dark green, but the variegated is much more commonly seen. The variegated leaves have a glossy, lustrous texture and bold dramatic coloring including shades of dark green, pale green, silvery grey and creamy white, that has a marbled appearance, making Algerian ivy popular with home gardeners and garden designers.

The large leaves remain evergreen, making this a valuable planting in home landscapes for year round color and interest. The plant is native to Northern Africa and Algeria. Birds are attracted to it as a shelter plant but it's eschewed by rabbits and deer. The growth habit lends itself to covering a trellis or gate, scrambling over a bed beneath a tree, or pruned and trained into a sculptural shape, but its most popular use is as a groundcover. Being fast growing and with sturdy roots, it can help control erosion and is used for this purpose in coastal California.

Botanical Name Hedera algeriensis
Common Name Algerian Ivy, Canary Island Ivy
Plant Type Evergreen vine
Mature Size 15 to 20 feet
Sun Exposure Full shade to partial sun
Soil Type Neutral, well-draining
Soil pH Neutral, slightly acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Flowers rarely; light green
Hardiness Zones 6 to 11
Native Areas North Africa
Variegated ivy leaves with dark green and creamy white.
This planting shows the dramatic coloration of Algerian ivy's variegation.  Jürgen Kornstaedt / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

How to Grow Algerian Ivy

Unlike other ground cover ivy, Algerian ivy is salt tolerant and can be used in coastal landscapes. Algerian ivy is not fussy about soil, but should have good drainage. It's very low maintenance for the most part. The vine is semi-woody and responds well to pruning. It can be pruned back heavily in late winter before new spring growth starts; new leaves tend to be very light green.

Light

This ground cover will grow best in full shade to partial sun. Its color contrast will be strongest in a location with ample indirect light, but it can be grown in shady areas and beneath trees also. Avoid full sun to avoid the leaves getting crisped in summer.

Soil

Algerian ivy can be grown in most any soil with decent drainage. It's drought tolerant but does best in a moderately moist soil in partial shade.

Water

This ivy is drought tolerant, but in warmer zones it should be grown where it won't dry out in full sun. It doesn't generally need extra watering, but anecdotally some gardeners find the colors are more vibrant if it has steady moisture. If there is an unusually dry spring, some watering will help it generate spring growth sooner.

Temperature and Humidity

Other than being planted in its recommended hardiness zones, there are no temperature requirements for Algerian ivy. If your area has harsh winters, you will want to plant it where it will have some shelter from strong or drying winds, or places where run off and freezing could cause it to be encased in ice for long periods of time.

Propagation

Propagate with semi-hardwood cuttings of the vines in late summer. Grow in containers and plant the following spring after frost danger has passed.

Toxicity

Algerian ivy should not be ingested, and although it may cause toxic reactions in dogs or cats if they ingest it, most animals tend to leave it alone. There is also a tendency for skin irritation after handing the leaves or stems with bare skin, so be sure to wear garden gloves when handling and wash up afterwards. Some plants will bear small berries and these should also not be ingested.

Growing in Containers

Growing Algerian ivy in containers is possible if you can avoid the soil getting frozen solid which can lead to root rot. The best way to avoid this if your plants are in an area where the temperature frequently dips below freezing in winter is to have the plants next to a building or wall (especially stone or brick) where some radiant warmth will help prevent freezing. Putting them in a sunny spot for the winter will also help. Also locate them away from a spot where gutter water or other run off from melting ice won't cause undue moisture in winter that is subject to freezing if temperatures dip. Remember, container gardens are like a tiny microclimate that can be manipulated, but where conditions are also more intense than in the ground. Soil will dry out faster, warm up faster, and freeze faster.