Variegated ivy will add color, lines and texture to your garden or landscaping. Ranging shades from white or cream, to yellow or even gold highlight the leaves of these beautiful plants. Their habits vary also, and include climbers, ground covers and trailing vines suitable for hanging pots. Although not as quick to flourish as their “all-green” relatives, the variegated ivies are a hardy plant easily maintained by even a novice gardener.
The colors in the leaves of variegated ivy are caused by an uneven distribution of chlorophyll. Where the leaves are green, chlorophyll is sufficiently present to allow the leaves to covert sunlight efficiently into food for the plant and to provide protection as well. The portion of the leaves that is not green is less efficient at both tasks.
What this means for the aspiring gardener, is that a location for variegated ivy needs to provide a bit more light than is required for solid green varieties. At the same time, however, the variegated ivy will need protection during the hottest, brightest part of the day. Left in too much shade, a variegated plant may begin to develop only solid green leaves. The ivy will again begin growing variegated leaves if it is provided with more light. Kept indoors, most variegated plants thrive in a sunny window (or behind a sheer shade) on a northern, eastern or western wall.
Location can be critical in determining whether ivy is an asset or a nuisance. Many growers use ivy to disguise an unsightly tree trunk or wall. Care must be taken to ensure that the ivy does not choke the tree, clog drains or overgrow vents on the wall. Thriving indoor ivy may require division to keep from outgrowing its location, or regular repotting if space allows.
Containers work well with many variegated ivy varieties. They afford the gardener greater control over the landscape, allowing easy movement as needed. Whether for use in the garden or indoors, planting containers should be selected carefully. Ivy will develop robust roots requiring adequate space for growing media and water. Good drainage is essential. Many new pots require modification, drilling additional holes or adding a thick layer of coarse rock at the bottom, to ensure that the roots do not drown or rot.
Varieties of variegated ivy can be propagated asexually. Established plants can be divided, some roots taken with each separated section of plant. If a divided section lacks roots, it can be propagated as cuttings. Many can be rooted in water, but better results are usually had with growing medium. Stem, tip, or leaf bud cuttings can be used to develop roots. Abrade the lower end of the cutting and apply rooting hormone. Place the cutting in a container of growing medium or quality potting soil. Water it in to firm the soil. Place the potted cutting where it will get moderate light and warmth. Mist it regularly or keep the plant sealed in a plastic bag to maintain humidity. When the roots are well established, the plant can be gradually introduced to the conditions at its final home.