Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Hedera Helix ‘Green Ripple’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Hedera helix 'Green Ripple' detail (16/08/2011, Cambridge)

Hedera helix 'Green Ripple' detail (16/08/2011, Cambridge)

Position: Flourishes in full sun to full shade.

Soil: Any free draining.

Flowering period: autumn.

Eventual Height: 10cm

Eventual Spread: Indefinite

Hardiness: USDA Zone 5a-9a

Family: Araliaceae

Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ is an evergreen shrub with a prostrate and climbing habit and will form a dense mat. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets which appear from the stems and cling to suitable surfaces. The leaved are alternates and are 50cm to 100cm long and are more angular than those found on Hedera helix and have creamy-green veining. The leaves are of two types; palmately five lobed juvenile found on the creeping and climbing stems, and the unlobed cordate adult leaves found on the fertile flowering stems. Green/ yellow hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late sumer to late autumn and are found in 5cm umbles. These are followed by purple/ black berries each of which are 6mm to 8mm in diameter and ripen in late winter. These seeds are dispersed by birds which have eaten the berries.

H. helix, commonly known as Common Ivy or English Ivy, is native to most of Europe (including the UK) and  western Asia. In many parts of the United States, parts of Australia and New Zealand it is labeled as an invasive species. Sale or import is banned in the state of Oregon in the US. The variety Hedera helix ‘Green Ripple’ was discovered in 1939 and is particularly suited as ground cover.

Hedera is from the old Latin name for Ivy. Helix is derived from the Greek meaning twisted in reference to its climbing habit.

Hedera helix 'Green Ripple' (16/08/2011, Cambridge)

Hedera helix 'Green Ripple' (16/08/2011, Cambridge)

This plant is useful to the landscape architect as an effective ground cover in a variety of locations including shade and the dense habit will suppress weeds. This plant is also recommended for stabilising banks. This plant is very drought tolerant. Care should be taken when locating this plant as its berries are slightly poisonous to humans.

This plant will tolerate most soil conditions; it will be happy in acid, neutral or alkaline pH levels and will tolerate very alkali soils. I thrives in sandy, loamy or clay based soils and will even tolerate heavy clay, nutrient poor soils.

Ecological, the native plant H. helix is a valuable  source of nectar for bees, flies and species of lepidoptera in late autumn. The fruit, which mature in late winter months, are a valuable food source for birds.

Maintenance: This plant requires little care, 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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