Ivy is appreciated as an evergreen climbing plant and especially for its capacity to fully cover any wall or facade, but it can also be trained to cover defined spaces on a facade. The ivy shoots grow away from sunlight, and tend to climb inside any crack or crevice in the wall, which can then cause structural damage as the shoots grow thick. Maintaining and pruning an ivy is a lot of work. Wintercreepers may be used instead for smaller wall surfaces.
(Common ivy, lat.: Hedera helix // colchica // hibernica)
Sunny (full sun) to semi-shaded position. Needs soil rich in nutrients and humus with good water provision. Distance between plants: 2 - 8 metres.
This is a self-climber, often cascading, that may grow to a height of 20 metres or more. Of particular interest for façade greening are the wild- i.e., non-hybridised species and young forms, which are generally good climbers with clinging stem roots and, in moderate climates (zone 6a and up), are reliably evergreen.
The native form- Hedera helix - is a particularly reliable climber, while Hedera colchica is only reliable in optimal positions. Once an ivy can no longer grow further upwards, it will stop climbing with the adhesive stem roots and convert to the senescent form “Arborescent,” which develops simple oval, acuminate leaves instead of lobed ones, grows as a shrub only, and is sold as a different species altogether. Flowers appear in September-- a fragrant feasting meadow for bees! Fruits (berries) come during or after winter and attract birds. Pruning is possible at any time and often necessary to restrict growth, as illustrated and described in the photos.
For heights of 6 meters or more, a wire rope trellis is strongly recommended to assist climbing and adhesion, and most of all to prevent the ivy from collapsing. Entire areas of an ivy mat can become detached in storms or strong winds. During a storm, and especially if the wall plaster is old and brittle, entire leaf mats can separate and collapse. For suitable rope systems, refer to the table below. Easy basic and medium kits are recommended; for higher greening, go with heavy or even massive systems. Ivy can be woven into fences, wire nets, trellises, etc.. for a decorative touch. Light, easy basic-s or easy mini kits would be sufficient for this purpose and for potted ivy plants.
Ivy fruit is poisonous and the leaves may irritate the skin. Ivy grows away from the light and can cause considerable building damage, especially when brickwork and render have cracks into which the ivy is more than pleased to enter... eventually bursting structures with their thick-growing stems. We are often asked how to deal with the adhesive roots that remain on the wall when the ivy is taken off (from a façade during its renovation). The only way is to burn off / torch the plant traces and repaint the wall. An alternative to the complete removal of ivy is preventing it from climbing higher through the use of horizontal barriers in the form of cornices (projective window sills) or by framing the ivy with segments of sheet metal installed at a certain height, at least temporarily until the next pruning...