A reader in California asked if there is such a thing as flowering ivy and, since Adelaide is on holiday the question is passed to me. Yes, indeed there is. In fact, all ivies flower when they reach maturity. The problem is that “maturity” may not be reached for 10 years or so, or not at all.
Ivies are woody plants in the Hedera genus that either creep or climb, depending on whether there is a structure nearby. The size and color of the plants’ flowers vary depending on species but most have small yellow flowers borne in clusters. Ivies typically bloom in fall and early winter and serve as an excellent source of food for several types of insects at a time of year when there isn’t a lot of nectar available to them. Examples of flowering ivies include:
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Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis or Hedera algeriensis), is loved for its red stems holding large leaves. Gardeners also like its ability to tolerate salt, shade and any type of soil, as long as it’s kept moist. Like all ivies, if you cut it back it produces new growth, never matures and thus, produces no flowers. Algerian ivy does best when grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. This plant is considered invasive in California.
Hedera hibernica, commonly known as Irish ivy, bears tiny light green or white flowers. The contrast of the flowers against the ivy’s deep green foliage makes for a charming display as the ivy climbs over structures or creeps along the ground. Listed as a noxious weed in Washington state, check your state’s requirements before planting Irish ivy.
Bullock’s Heart Ivy
Bullock’s heart ivy (Hedera colchica ‘Dentata Variegata’) blooms in early autumn with small greenish-white flowers. Gardener’s enjoy the plant’s variegated foliage and its ability to thrive in either partial or full shade. Bullock’s heart ivy has the largest leaves of any of the ivies. If you don’t mind the plant failing to produce flowers, feel free to use a lawn mower on it to keep it compact and tidy. Grow Bullock’s heart ivy in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.
As stated earlier, all ivies flower if they are allowed to reach maturity. By that time, however, some species will have taken over the entire neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Reed College