Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Hedera Helix ‘Glacier’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Hedera helix 'Glacier' leaf (01/11/2011, London)

Hedera helix 'Glacier' leaf (01/11/2011, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: N/A

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 3m (climbing)

Eventual Spread: 2m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5a – 9b

Family: Araliaceae

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ is a fast growing evergreen climbing shrub with a self clinging climbing growth habit. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets which appear from the stems and cling to suitable surfaces. The leaves of the plant are gray green, with a narrow irregular cream edge. The leaves are alternate 50 – 100 mm long, with a 15 – 20 mm petiole. They are shallowly lobed. Green/ yellow hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late summer to late autumn and are found in 5cm umbles. The fruit of the plant is a purple/ black berry which ripen in late winter. These seeds are dispersed by birds which have eaten the berries.

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’  is commonly known as Ivy Glacier. The species, Hedera helix, is native to the most of Europe (including the UK) and Western Asia. It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced, including many parts of the United States, parts of Australia and New Zealand.  H. helix ‘Glacier’  is one of the oldest silver-gray, variegated Ivies, discovered in the 1930′s.

The etymology of the binomial name  Hedera is derived from the ancient Latin name for Ivy. Helix is derived from the Greek meaning spiral or twisted.

Hedera helix 'Glacier'  (01/11/2011, London)

Hedera helix 'Glacier' (01/11/2011, London)

The landscape architect may find Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ useful for planting on banks and slopes to stabilise them . It also can be used as an effective self clinging climber and can be used to cover ugly walls and structures. It will also tolerate poor urban conditions and is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, this plant is attractive to birds due to its fruit and is also an important source of nectar for bees, flies and species of lepidoptera in late autumn. 

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ was awarded the prestigious Royal Horticultural Societies annual Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

H. helix ‘Glacier’  can tolerate most soils, and is highly adaptable to both dry and moist locations. It will tolerate all pH of soil and grows best in fertile humus – rich, alkaline soils.

Maintenance: This plant requires little maintenance. Pruning of the growing tips may be required to stop it spreading into unwanted areas. If it is used as a ground cover at the base of trees shoots which start to climb the trunk of the tree should be cut to ground level once a year.

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