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 used to cover limited wall surfaces. The ivy shoots grow away from sunlight, and it tends to climbing 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. Need soil rich in nutrients and humus with good water provision. Distance between plants: 2 - 8 metres.
This is a self-clinger that may grow to a height of 20 metres and more. Of particular interest for façade greening are the wild- i.e., non-hybridised species and juvenile 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 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 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 m and more, it is recommended to install cables to assist climbing / attaching and also to prevent the plant from collapsing... during a storm and especially if wall plaster is brittle, entire leaf mats may separate and collapse. For suitable rope systems, refer below. Easy 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.
Ivy fruit is poisonous and the leaves may irritate the skin. Ivy grows away from the light and can cause considerable building/structural 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 treat the remainders of the adventitious/adhesive roots 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. Alternatively, one can use horizontal climbing barriers such as projecting window sills (photo) or if necessary, install metal sheets at a designated height to prevent the ivy from climbing any further, at least temporarily until the next pruning...