19 Types of Ivy to Grow in Your Yard

Persian ivy leaves closeup.

SMarina/Getty Images

Ivy can be a ground cover, grown entirely for their ability to create a blanket of greenery, a climbing vine with striking variegation, or enjoyed as houseplants and/or in hanging pots with colorful flowers or fall foliage. The many types of ivy in existence have led to this range of uses.

To be classified as a true ivy, a plant must belong to Hedera, a genus in the Araliaceae family. But limiting our survey to this strict definition would eliminate a number of useful and beautiful plants commonly referred to as "ivy." So as not to exclude any great "ivies," we'll be including on our list plants that hail from other genera.

Hedera and Parthenocissus are the two most widely grown ivies in landscaping. The major difference between them is that types of the former are evergreen, while types of the latter are deciduous and give you great fall color. Both do best in fertile, moist soil that drains well. Both are also tolerant of a variety of levels of sunlight, although, to protect the beauty of their foliage from scorching, it is generally better to grow them in at least partial shade.

Learn about 19 types of ivy to grow, both in an out of the Hedera genus, plus how to get rid of one particularly unwelcome "ivy."

  • 01 of 19

    English Ivy (Hedera helix)

    English ivy vine climbing a tree.
    David Beaulieu

    English ivy is a fast-growing evergreen vine valued for its versatility. It can be grown in sun or shade (but shade is better, to avoid leaf scorching), including deep shade (as on the North wall of a building), which usually presents a problem for growing plants. Its vigorous growth habit makes it an effective ground cover where you need a patch of ground covered quickly. But it also sports aerial roots that allow it to scale a tree or that wall that you want covered in greenery. However, it can cause damage both to trees and siding (including brickwork), so select the host carefully.

    • Native Area: Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 20 to 80 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to full shade


    English ivy is considered an invasive species in some parts of North America. It is a tough plant that easily naturalizes outdoors.

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  • 02 of 19

    White-and-Green Variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix 'Glacier')

    Cultivar of English ivy with white and green leaves.

    skymoon13/Getty Images

    The variegated cultivars of English ivy should generally be given a bit more sunlight than the types with all-green leaves to promote the white coloration in their leaves. At the southern end of its range, though, 'Glacier' should be given full shade to shelter it from the summer heat. This variegated cultivar of English ivy sports a center with patches of gray and green and edges that are a creamy white.

    • Native Area: Species native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade
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  • 03 of 19

    Yellow-and-Green Variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix 'Gold Child')

    English ivy with green and gold leaves.

    By Eve Livesey/Getty Images

    Your choices in variegated English ivy plants are not limited to the cultivars in green and white. The leaves of the 'Gold Child' cultivar are edged in gold. With this color pattern, the plant will remind you of another popular ground cover, 'Emerald and Gold' wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei). Like 'Glacier,' this variegated cultivar should be given full shade in the South to shelter it from the summer heat; give it a bit more sunlight in the North to promote the gold color.

    • Native Area: Species native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade
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  • 04 of 19

    Baltic Ivy (Hedera helix 'Baltica')

    Mass of Baltic ivy leaves.

    Brilt/Getty Images

    Baltic ivy is very similar to English ivy, except that it has smaller leaves. Like other Hedera spp., its root system makes it a good choice when you need a ground cover for erosion control on steep hills.

    • Native Area: Species native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: 20 to 80 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to full shade
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  • 05 of 19

    Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)

    Building covered with Irish ivy.

    fauk74/Getty Images

    Whereas 'Baltica' has smaller leaves than English ivy, the Irish ivy has leaves that are larger than the latter. Also called "Atlantic Ivy," it naturalizes easily (especially in climates such as that of the Pacific Northwest) like the English, with which it also shares uses such as for erosion control (as a ground cover) and for covering walls.

    • Native Area: Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 32 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
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  • 06 of 19

    Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)

    Closeup of Persian ivy plant.

    SMarina/Getty Images

    Persian ivy is a true ivy with oval-to-heart-shaped leaves. Not only is the leaf shape different from that of English ivy, but so is the size: a whopping 3 to 7 inches wide and up to 10 inches long. It has its own cultivars: including 'Dentata', 'Dentata Variegata', and 'Sulpher Heart'.

    All plants in the Hedera genus can be put to similar uses (ground covers, to cover walls, etc.), but one use you may not think of right away is for topiary. Typically, we associate topiaries with shrubs, but Hedera vines can also be trained to grow over frames to form animal shapes, etc. With its greater leaf size, Persian ivy can fill in a large topiary frame faster than English ivy.

    • Native Area: Western Caucasus, northern Turkey
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: 30 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
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  • 07 of 19

    Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis)

    The less common, non-variegated type of Algerian ivy.

    skymoon13/Getty Images

    Another exotic true ivy is the Algerian. It bears glossy leaves (5 to 8 inches wide) that are composed of three to five shallow lobes. The leaves are more widely spaced along the stems than on English ivy, giving the plant a distinct look. But this vine isn't as cold-hardy as some ivies (only to zone 7).

    • Native Area: North Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 11
    • Height: 20 to 40 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade
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  • 08 of 19

    Variegated Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo')

    Mass of variegated Algerian ivy leaves.

    ChrisAt/Getty Images

    This variegated version of Algerian ivy has gray-green centers and creamy-white margins. Like other types of Hedera, it strikes down roots as it spreads along the ground and is reasonably drought-tolerant once established. Use it as a ground cover or wall covering where you want an eye-catching foliar display.

    • Native Area: Species native to North Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 11
    • Height: 1 to 2 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade


    Hedera spp. are toxic to pets.

    Continue to 9 of 19 below.
  • 09 of 19

    Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

    Boston ivy in fall on a brick wall.
    David Beaulieu

    Like Hedera spp., Parthenocissus spp. cling to just about any surface and tolerate shady conditions as well as sun. Also, like Hedera spp., they can be used as ground cover plants.

    Though not as risky to grow on walls as English ivy, Boston ivy can damage wood siding, gutters, and roofing. In most parts of North America, Boston ivy is a less aggressive grower than English ivy.

    But Boston ivy is a deciduous vine. It provides great red fall color; even in spring, the new leaves are reddish. The foliage morphs to green in summer before reverting to red in fall.

    • Native Area: Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 30 to 50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
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  • 10 of 19

    Fenway Park Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Fenway Park')

    Fenway Park Boston Ivy on wall.

    cristianoalessandro/Getty Images

    This cultivar of Boston ivy differs from the species in leaf color. The foliage starts out golden in spring. In summer it morphs into a chartreuse green. The fall color is red, as with the species plant. In the North, give it as much sun as you can, which promotes its striking colors. But at the southern end of its range, it can profit from afternoon shade.

    • Native Area: Species native to Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height:  24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
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  • 11 of 19

    Five-Leaved Ivy (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

    Virginia creeper with its fall color.

    David Beaulieu

    Closely related to Boston ivy is five-leaved ivy (better known as "Virginia creeper"), but the latter is favored by native plant activists in North America. This large and vigorous vine is frequently encountered in its native North America growing wild along roadsides, in forests, and in people's backyards. It has outstanding fall color (red) and can be put to the same uses as Boston ivy and the Hedera genus.

    • Native Area: North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Height: 30 to 50 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
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  • 12 of 19

    Variegated Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea 'Variegata')

    Variegated ground ivy is an ornamental plant, not a weed.

    Orthosie/Getty Images

    Glechoma hederacea is a widespread lawn weed in North America. It produces purple flowers and aromatic foliage, but most homeowners still try to get rid of it. The variegated version, however, is sold as an ornamental and is valued for its attractive leaves. Use it as an edging plant where an unusual specimen is called for.

    • Native Area: Species native to Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Height: 14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
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  • 13 of 19

    Tree Ivy (× Fatshedera lizei)

    Large tree ivy with its variegated leaves.

    yykkaa/Getty Images

    Tree ivy is a cross between a shrub and English ivy. It gets its glossy, dark green, five-lobed evergreen leaves from its English ivy parent. But this perennial gets its shrubby habit from its other parent. You can buy variegated cultivars such as 'Variegata' if you want more striking foliage.

    • Native Area: Hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Height: 3 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
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  • 14 of 19

    Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum)

    Ivy geranium growing in window box on house wall.

    liveslow/Getty Images

    Ivy geranium is popular in the North as a plant for hanging baskets and window boxes. Not only is it not a true ivy, but it isn't even a true geranium. What we commonly call a "geranium" is actually a Pelargonium, a type of annual. By contrast, true geraniums are perennials. Regardless, ivy geraniums are showy plants well worth growing outdoors during the summer months in cold climates. The foliage is glossy and the flowers (which come in pink, white, and lilac, besides red) are striking; red-flowered types will be most effective if you're looking to draw attention to a planter.

    • Native Area: South Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: 12 to 18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
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  • 15 of 19

    Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis)

    Closeup of foliage of Swedish ivy.

    seven75/Getty Images

    Swedish ivy is grown as a houseplant in the North, where it is also popular for hanging baskets displayed on porches and patios in the summertime. You can make your Swedish ivy a bushier, more compact plant by pinching it regularly. Such a regimen helps this herbaceous perennial develop new branches. And the vine is soft enough that pinching is very easy.

    • Native Area: South Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
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  • 16 of 19

    Variegated Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis 'Variegata')

    Cultivar of Swedish ivy with variegated leaves.

    Tatiana Terekhina/Getty Images

    While the species plant is valued for its glossy, bright-green leaves, this variegated cultivar is prized for its rich-green centers edged in a creamy white. The variegated version is more likely to stand out in a mixed planter, with its eye-catching contrast of green and white, than is the species plant.

    • Native Area: Species native to South Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    Continue to 17 of 19 below.
  • 17 of 19

    Devil's Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

    Devil's ivy in a hanging basket.

    Firn/Getty Images

    Better known as pothos, devil's ivy is another tender plant commonly grown as a houseplant in the North, especially in hanging baskets. Several cultivars exist including white-and-green types like 'Marble Queen' and 'Pearls and Jade', a silver option called 'Silver Satin', and the chartreuse 'Neon'.

    It is valued as one of the easiest houseplants to grow, so it's a great choice if you like low maintenance and/or are not a "green thumb."

    • Native Area: South Pacific
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 12
    • Height: 20 to 40 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade


    Pothos is toxic to pets.

    Continue to 18 of 19 below.
  • 18 of 19

    Grape Ivy (Cissus alata)

    Hanging basket of grape ivy against white backdrop.

    Chansom Pantip/Getty Images

    Like Swedish ivy and devil's ivy, grape ivy is a tender plant usually grown as a houseplant in the North. Alternatively, grow it in a hanging basket for the deck during the summertime. It is a good climber, so you can also grow it on a small trellis indoors. Being well-adapted to low light conditions, it is easy to grow as a houseplant.

    • Native Area: Central America, South America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 12
    • Height: 6 to 10 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade


    Cissus, Epipremnum, Glechoma, Hedera, and Parthenocissus all have some levels of toxicity to humans.

    Continue to 19 of 19 below.
  • 19 of 19

    German Ivy (Delairea odorata)

    German ivy in bloom.

    silviopl/Getty Images

    German ivy doesn't always bloom, but, when it does, it's spectacular. More typically, in the northern United States, it is valued simply for its foliage. It is commonly grown in hanging baskets outdoors in the summer. But it is also a popular houseplant. In fact, because it naturalizes easily in warm climates and can be invasive there, many recommend growing it exclusively as a houseplant. Its leaves are interesting not only because of their jagged edges, but also because they are large (up to 4 inches). As with Hedera spp., the plant requires more care when grown indoors rather than outdoors.

    • Native Area: South Africa, where it is evergreen
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 12
    • Height: 2 feet (longer in its native area)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Is ivy easy to care for?

      When an ivy is suited for growing outdoors in your region, then the best way to stay low-maintenance in growing ivy is to grow it outdoors. When grown indoors, ivy needs more attention.

    • How fast does ivy grow?

      Most types of ivy grow rapidly outdoors. They will generally grow slower indoors. English ivy, for example, can take a year or more to become established and experience a growth spurt when grown indoors.

    • What is "poison ivy?"

      One ivy you will want to avoid altogether is Toxicodendron radicans, the infamous "poison ivy." This North-American native isn't really an ivy at all. Rather, it's considered one of our biggest nuisance plants. Here's how to remove it safely from your land.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hedera helix. USDA Forest Service.

  2. English Ivy. Pet Poison Helpline.

  3. Top 11 Poisonous Plants. Pet Poison Helpline.

  4. Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. University of California.