Ivy doesn’t always have the best reputation. When most people think of ivy, they likely think of their least favorite type: poison ivy.
Interestingly, poison ivy is a bush or a vine. Real ivy is far more interesting, beautiful, and beneficial. It’s available in a wide variety of colors, including green, gold, red, and more.
Whether you’re thinking of decorating with ivy or trying to identify ivy already on your property, this complete guide has everything you need to know.
Let’s take a closer look at 20 different types of ivy found around the world.
List of Different Types of Ivy Around the World
1. English Ivy
English ivy is one of the most common types of ivy. It’s found throughout Europe and Asia, stretching from Ireland and Scandinavia in the north to as far east as Turkey and Iran. The ivy always holds a special place in my heart because it grew on the sides of my childhood home and spurred my interest in the plant.
It’s a widely cultivated plant with broad appeal. You’ll find it along with homes, commercial buildings, and other structures. More than simply ornamental, English ivy provides insulation in winter while also helping keep the building’s interior cool in summer.
This type of ivy also attracts a wide range of wildlife, including deer, birds, and nectar-feeding insects. In the summer, the plant produces small, greenish-yellow flowers with high nectar content that attracts bees. It also produces fruit that ripens in the winter, making it an important food source for many birds.
One reason for its popularity is how easily it grows on vertical surfaces. It can climb up to 98 feet if the structure provides enough support.
When it grows only on the ground, it reaches about eight inches tall. English ivy prefers dark, moist locations and can dry out if exposed to excessive sunlight.
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Goldchild ivy is a type of English ivy. It’s a prevalent decorative ivy known for its gray-green leaves. It’s an easy type of ivy to identify because each leaf has a bright gold margin. The leaves are large, too.
It won’t grow as tall as standard English ivy, topping out at about three feet. However, Goldchild is also heartier than English ivy. It will thrive in a variety of soil types and environments.
While the plant prefers shady areas, it can tolerate more direct sunlight than English ivy.
If you want your Goldchild ivy to have the brightest gold possible, ensure it gets lots of sun exposure. In hot weather, the leaves will turn butter yellow. Aside from decorating building exteriors, Goldchild ivy is also popular inside as a houseplant.
Finally, Goldchild ivy is incredibly well-regarded by horticulturists and other ivy aficionados.
I didn’t know ivy could win awards, but the honors seem well deserved!
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3. Irish Ivy
Irish ivy is commonly confused for English ivy, as they have similar sizes and leaf shapes. It’s widely used as ground cover or decorating vertical surfaces such as walls and fences.
The leaves are dark green with a glossy finish, and they have five lobes and grow up to five inches wide. The plant grows to the same height as English ivy, about 90 feet.
Irish ivy grows quickly. Like English ivy, it prefers moderate humidity and well-drained soil. If you’re planting Irish ivy outside, put it in a bright area but away from direct sunlight. Bright, indirect light helps maintain the ivy’s vibrant colors.
Irish ivy is a popular indoor plant. When keeping it inside, you want to ensure it remains humid enough. Try placing the plant on wet pebbles or perlite. Also, expose your indoor ivy to either artificial light or place it by a north, west, or east-facing window.
What’s the difference between English and Irish ivy? Irish ivy has broader leaves with green veins (English ivy has white veins). Also, English ivy has a musty odor, while the Irish type has a much sweeter aroma.
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4. Gloire de Marengo
Gloire de Marengo is a robust and adaptable ivy that grows in a wide variety of climates and soil types. It’s a perennial that thrives in medium moisture. You can plant it in the sun or shade.
The leaves have a gorgeous, two-toned color scheme. The dark green inner portion has white margins that create a marbled effect. The white part of the leaves may be bronze during the winter, but the dark green colors will remain.
While this ivy thrives in moist soil, it can also tolerate drought conditions. It will survive in areas with large populations of deer and rabbits. It will typically live for at least 30 years in an ideal environment.
Gloire de Marengo plants can grow up to 20 feet tall and three feet across. Their large size makes them well-suited for blocking wind on a property. They’re commonly planted near fences, retaining walls, or other structures.
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No other type of ivy looks quite like Ivalace. It has small, curly leaves that create a wavy, lace-like appearance. Due to its unique look, people frequently use Ivalace ivy to decorate residential yards. It’s also a popular houseplant.
The ivy is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. They’ll grow in practically any type of soil with moderate moisture, including chalk, clay, loam, and sand.
Ivalace doesn’t grow quite as large as many other types of ivy. It typically won’t rise taller than three feet or spread wider than four feet.
You’ll want to plant the ivy in a shady or semi-shady location, as too much sun can damage the leaves.
Fortunately, it’s generally a hardy plant and will withstand drought conditions as well as nibbles from deer and rabbits.
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6. Azores Ivy
Azores ivy is native to the Azores Islands, a small chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal. It’s a robust plant that thrives in many different environments. You’ll find it on rocky slopes, tree trunks, cliffs, and more. I’ve seen this ivy in the wild during a trip to Portugal, and it’s quite a stunning sight!
The ivy has green stems and two types of leaves. The juvenile leaves are palmately lobed, which means the lobes radiate from a central point. As they age, they change into unlobed leaves with smooth edges. The ivy also has small flowers and tiny, black fruits.
Azores ivy typically has no issues growing either in the shade or full sun. In the right conditions, they can grow up to 90 feet high.
Note that you don’t want to let this type of ivy grow on trees or anything else living, as it can become destructive. Trust me on this one. I learned the hard way when Azores ivy once cracked my wooden fence!
Needlepoint ivy is a popular ornamental plant known for small, closely-set leaves. Each leaf is dark green with three to five sharp, pointed lobes.
It’s a trendy type of ivy for hanging baskets and outdoor pots. It’s also a popular indoor ivy.
Whether indoors or out, needlepoint ivy is easy to maintain. It requires moist, well-drained soil such as chalk, clay, sand, or loam. I’ve had a needlepoint ivy plant in my home for over eight years, which is definitely some kind of personal record!
They only grow to three feet high, which is why they work well as indoor decorations. They’re also used outdoors as ground cover.
8. Algerian Ivy
Also known as Canary Island ivy and North African ivy, Algerian ivy is decorative with large, colorful leaves. It’s a perennial plant that will survive in a variety of climates.
Landscapers commonly use it as an ornamental ground cover, but it’s also popular on gates, trellises, and gazebos. In California, it’s widely used to help control erosion because it grows quickly and develops sturdy roots. Plus, Algerian ivy is salt tolerant, unlike many other types of ivy, so you’ll find it used throughout coastal cities.
Although some Algerian ivy is dark green, most types have multi-colored markings. You can find Algerian leaves colored pale green, silvery, gray, white, and more. Leaves have large lobes, and the plant can grow up to 40 feet tall.
If you’re using Algerian ivy to decorate, plant it somewhere with partial shade, such as underneath a tree. You want the ivy to receive lots of indirect light but not total sun exposure. Indirect light results in the most incredible color contrast on the leaves.
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9. Boston Ivy
Boston ivy is perhaps the most educated plant on the list. It’s the plant referred to in the phrase “ivy league” and commonly found climbing on the walls of the country’s most prestigious universities.
Here’s a fun fact: Boston ivy isn’t a type of ivy. Instead, it’s a vine. However, because of the shape of its leaves and its propensity to climb, people generally consider it ivy for decorative purposes. (I wonder if they teach all of that at Harvard?)
Boston ivy has no problem climbing practically any vertical surface, including most buildings. Aside from decoration, Boston ivy is also often used to create shade. To encourage wall growth, start the ivy about one foot from the wall, and leave about 18″ between each plant.
You’re likely familiar with Boston ivy’s signature red colors. The leaves turn from green in the summer to red in fall. They also produce small, blueberries that attract birds.
Unlike many types of ivy, Boston ivy does well in partial and even full sun. It needs full sun to display the brightest, most vivid colors.
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10. Japanese Ivy
Japanese ivy is quite beautiful, with large, heart-shaped leaves and white veins. It’s a climbing plant, but more manageable than many other ivies, as it only grows to heights of about 30 feet.
They produce small, umbrella-shaped flowers, usually either gold or green, and black, round fruits. Avoid handling or eating the fruit, as it’s poisonous to people.
It’s a decorative ivy typically placed in three locations:
- Decorative contains such as pots
- Rock walls
- Vertical spaces
It needs direct sunlight for two to six hours a day to thrive. This type of ivy isn’t typical as ground cover or blanketing large vertical spaces.
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11. Himalayan Ivy
Himalayan ivy has adapted to high altitudes, including some locations that are a mile or more above sea level. I have a friend in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, who has planted this type of ivy all around her house. She says it handles the environment and weather without a problem!
It’s a hardy, woody ivy with dark-green leaves accented by thin, white veins. The leaves of the Himalayan ivy range in size considerably. They can be as large as six inches or as small as an inch.
If you want to cover a lot of ground, either vertically or horizontally, Himalayan ivy is a good choice. It can grow over 100 feet tall.
Although similar in size and shape to English and Irish ivy, Himalayan ivy is a bit and also a bit thinner. I think it works great as an accent for other types of landscaping.
It has two distinct growth stages. During the juvenile stage, it will form dense patches on the ground. As it matures, it will start climbing up nearby structures while also forming woody vines. The leaves will change from lobed to unlobed before producing flowers.
12. Canary Ivy
The name “canary ivy” gets a little confusing. People use it to refer to Algerian ivy (see above), but it is technically incorrect, as Canary ivy and Algerian ivy are two different species.
Canary ivy is big and robust. It grows to over 100 feet and provides dense, thick cover both vertically and on the ground. Additionally, it easily grips a wide range of surfaces.
It can resemble a woody bush or shrub when used as ground cover. That’s how you’ll find it growing in the wild in its native regions of North Africa and the Canary Islands.
Canary ivy is closely related to Moroccan ivy, another ivy native to the Canary Islands. Moroccan ivy often grows on trees and rocks. While I don’t have any immediate plans to travel to the Canary Islands, the region sure has some beautiful ivies!
13. Russian Ivy
If you’ve ever seen ivy climbing up trees in a forest environment, the chances are good it was Russian ivy, known for its long stems and superior tree-scaling capability.
It has thin, light green leaves with wavy edges. The ivy flowers in the summer, developing small, white flowers and tiny fruits. Like many other types of ivy, they prefer partial shade and slightly moist soil. If you live in a colder environment, add mulch to the earth to increase its warmth.
Russian ivy is different from Russian vines, a fast-growing climbing vine. One quick way to tell the difference between the two is by their flowers.
While both are white, the flowers on the Russian vine are much longer.
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14. Swedish Ivy
Swedish ivy is another “ivy” that’s not a true ivy vine. Instead, it’s a flowering plant in the Hedera species, making it related to sage and mint.
Also known as the Creeping Charlie and the Swedish begonia, the Swedish ivy is a popular indoor houseplant. Its long, thick, and wavy leaves look great spilling out of hanging baskets and tall pots. The ivy produces both white and purple flowers throughout the year.
It should have no problems surviving year-round inside a home. Swedish ivy requires only moderate light levels and can withstand temperatures as low as 40°.
As it’s not a true ivy, it has some substantial differences from the other plants on this list. Notably, Swedish ivy doesn’t climb up walls or cling to surfaces.
Another fun fact about Swedish ivy is that it’s not native to Sweden. Instead, it originates from Eastern South Africa.
15. Persian Ivy
Unlike Swedish ivy, Persian ivy is actually from where its name implies, originating in the Middle East. It’s a perennial ivy that has no problems spreading out across the ground or climbing structures up to about 100 feet.
They’re a beloved outdoor decoration because they’re fast-growing, hardy, and beautiful. While many types of ivy have heart-shaped leaves, Persian ivy takes it to another level. Their large, glossy leaves are some of the largest produced within the species, growing up to 10 inches long.
If you keep your eye out, you’ll find Persian ivy in all sorts of residential and commercial structures. I’ve noticed it’s pretty popular among hotels.
Persian ivy has several varieties, including the famous Sulphur Heart. It has bright yellow and lime green leaves that create a striking appearance along a wall.
You’ll need to keep an eye on it because its growth can surprise you. They average between three and six feet tall but can get as high as 40 feet.
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16. Duckfoot Ivy
Duckfoot ivy always makes me smile. The small, three-lobed leaves look like tiny, green duck feet!
It’s a fast-growing ivy that can spread out over 15 feet. Although hardy, it does best in warmer areas with moist soil. You’ll want to water your Duckfoot ivy at least once a week or more during hot weather.
If you’re planting Duckfoot ivy outside for decoration, make sure to water it regularly. With proper watering during the first growing season, the ivy can develop an extensive root system that allows it to withstand mild drought in later years.
I had Duckfoot ivy on the side of a house I lived in many years ago. Unfortunately, because I didn’t know much about the water needs of this particular ivy type, I had some problems keeping it alive. Learn from my mistakes, so the same fate doesn’t await your Duckfoot ivy plants!
17. Manda’s Crested Ivy
Manda’s Crested Ivy is one of my favorite ivies because of how much it changes during the year. The leaves are dark green in the warmer months but subtly darken with the seasons, ending up as a beautiful bronze by winter.
It’s a medium-sized shrub ivy that will climb about five feet. Compared to a plant like the Persian ivy, Manda’s Crested grows slowly, taking about five years to reach its full height.
South-facing and east-facing views are best when planting it outdoors or positioning it inside. It’s a hardy ivy that handles everything from full shade to full sun.
18. Shamrock Ivy
The leaves of the Shamrock ivy do indeed resemble a tiny shamrock, but that’s not the sole reason behind the name.
Shamrock ivy was discovered in the 1950s in Pittsburgh. In 1954, voyagers introduced it to Europe, earning the name Cloverleaf ivy. In 1957, the ivy entered the floral trade at an exhibition held at – wait for it – the Shamrock Hotel in Houston, Texas.
The leaves have three rounded lobes with a bright green coloring and rounded edges. Two smaller nodes on each side overlap the larger node in the middle. Plus, each leaf has a glossy, slightly leather-like texture with light green veins.
It’s one of the most popular indoor ivies. As long as it gets at least three hours of indirect sunlight each day, it should thrive. You can also train it to grow around small frames to create Shamrock ivy wreaths, hearts, and more.
It can survive shady areas and cold temperatures 20° and even lower outside. The biggest potential problems in winter are excessive sun and wind exposure, not the cold. Plant your Shamrock ivy in a partly shady area protected from the wind.
19. Buttercup Ivy
Buttercup is one of my favorite yellow ivies. When grown in the full sun, its leaves turn bright gold. It’s still a beautiful ivy when grown in the shade, which results in light green or yellow-green leaves.
It’s tall but not particularly wide, reaching about six feet in height but only two feet in width. It grows at a medium pace. With proper conditions, it should live for almost three decades.
Buttercup ivy is an excellent option for city-dwellers. It can withstand smog and other city pollution. I kept Buttercup ivy in the windowsill of my apartment when I lived in the busy downtown of a major city, and it held up fine.
It’s also a solid choice for indoor potting. I love how it spills over the edges of the pot, creating a graceful, almost liquid-like appearance.
20. Poison Ivy
Finally, let’s talk about Poison Ivy. While it’s not the type of ivy anyone wants on their property (unless you’re super antisocial), it’s essential to know how to recognize it and what to do if you accidentally touch it.
Poison ivy can grow as a shrub, vine, or plant. You can find it in various locations, including forests, near waterways, and even in the middle of a city.
One of poison ivy’s most unfortunate attributes is its appearance can vary wildly, making it hard to identify. Look for the following characteristics:
- Three leaves on each stem
- The middle leaf is on the longest stem
- Leaves will have jagged edges with pointy tips
Generally, poison ivy leaves go through three color changes during the year. They’re red in the spring, green in the summer, and yellow or orange in the fall. They remain poisonous all year long, even in the cold of winter.
Wash your skin immediately with dish soap or rubbing alcohol and cold water if contact occurs. Washing within 20 minutes of contact can prevent symptoms entirely. Otherwise, you’ll want to apply calamine lotion or cortisone to the area. Expect to itch for about two days.