Hedera algeriensis is most commonly called Algerian ivy, although these evergreen vines are also sometimes referred to as Canary Island ivy, Madeira ivy, or North African ivy. Algerian ivy belongs to the Araliaceae family, which consists of over 1500 species of woody and herbaceous plants. The genus Algerian ivy belongs to, Hedera, only counts ivies — climbing or creeping vines among its members.
Like other ivies, Algerian ivy may be used as an ornamental garden plant, and it’s also often used as ground cover. As beautiful as Hedera algeriensis is to some, these plants are also known to be prolific and invasive — while you may think your sprawling Alergian ivy trellises are amazing, your neighbors might consider them to be a dangerous weed.
The fact that these plants are evergreens is one of Algerian ivy’s most attractive features, as they’ll be able to provide grand splashes of green in your garden throughout the entire year. Furthermore (as their invasive nature probably already strongly suggested), Algerian ivy is exceptionally easy to grow and care for, even for novice gardeners who haven’t grown a green thumb yet.
About Algerian Ivy
- Hedera algeriensis is a prolific, vivacious, climbing or creeping vine with self-clinging aerial roots. It is closely related to other ivy species, like Persian, Japanese, and Himalayan, ivy.
- Algerian ivy is, as both the common and neo-Latin names of the plant already indicate, native to Algeria and nearby North African regions. The fact that this ivy originates from a dryer and hotter climate makes it a perfect choice for people who love sprawling ivy vines, but live in a warmer region. It’s also interesting to note that Hedera algeriensis is the only ground cover ivy that thrives in salty soil. This makes the Algerian ivy plant especially attractive to gardeners in coastal areas.
- Algerian ivy has been grown in the United Kingdom since the nineteenth century, and can thrive there. In California, meanwhile, Hedera algeriensis is famously in use on highway embankments as a form of erosion control.
- This fast-growing plant can spread horizontally, making it popular as a ground cover to help with erosion control, but is also a great climber that will — if allowed — quickly cover your entire external wall, or grow beautifully on a trellis.
- Although Algerian ivy is completely unrelated to poison ivy, which belongs to an entirely different genus, this plant is definitely toxic. That’s true for humans just as it is for pets. Herbivores will naturally steer well clear of this plant, but children who touch it may be saddled with skin redness and even blisters. The Algerian ivy decidedly falls into the “look, but don’t touch” category!
- While Algerian ivy naturally has single-colored deep green leaves, variegated varieties have become by far more popular in ornamental gardens. These variegated large leaves feature a dark, deep green center, followed by olive tones toward the edges, and light tan edges. This striking marbled appearance is ultimately what has made Hedera algeriensis so popular with gardeners.
- Algerian ivy vines love shadier spots. If they’re growing in perpetual shade, however, the beautiful variegated varieties are likely to begin displaying entirely green leaves again.
- There is no question that most people prefer to grow Hedera algeriensis outside, in the garden. You may not know that these vines can also be grown as houseplants, in which case they perform well in bright but indirect light. Regular pruning will impede their growth.
- Hedera algeriensis does, unfortunately, attract more than its fair share of pests and diseases. From aphids to scale, from mealybugs to loopers, and from stem rot to powdery mildew, Algerian ivy can be burdened with all the common problems that gardeners hate dealing with. With a little love and care, the odds that your Hedera algeriensis will be struck with these afflictions can be greatly reduced.
Algerian Ivy Features: An Overview
- Algerian ivy is a fast-growing evergreen with sturdy roots. This plant is a climber and a creeper, and can cover large areas very quickly.
- Hedera algeriensis can have impressively long vines when these plants are fully grown — if you’ve ever seen them in action, you already know that their vines can be up to 40 feet (12 meters) long. They likewise have a wide spread of around three feet (one meter), and can be trained to climb wherever you’d like them to.
- Algerian ivy leaves exist in solid green and beautifully variegated varieties. In both cases, they have large and broad leathery leaves that feature three lobes and are heart-shaped. These leaves can be three to six inches (seven to 15 centimeters) long, and are evergreen — making Algerian ivy attractive throughout the year.
- Hedera algeriensis may flower during the summer or fall, giving rise to green or golden yellow umbels. Their colors mean the flowers, which are small and appear only rarely, don’t stand out very much.
- Once the bloom finishes, Algerian ivy plants produce tiny black drupes, which are berry-like fruits.
- The stiff stems of the Algerian ivy have a red-brown color, and are covered in small hairs.
- When we say that Algerian ivy is a low-maintenance plant, that means that Hedera algeriensis will grow like a champion without your help, as long as it’s planted in the proper climate conditions. For gardeners who love Algerian ivy, but would like to keep the plant’s growth and spread in check, it’s a different story — Hedera algeriensis needs to be pruned regularly to keep it from spreading.
- Because Algerian ivy vines are toxic, they do not attract many animals. Birds may, however, use Algerian ivy as shelter.
- Gardeners who are looking for specific leaf shades may be interested in Hedera algeriensis ‘Canary Cream’, which features rich green leaves with creamy white borders, or Hedera algeriensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’ which has extra-large leaves with silver-green patches.
Growing Algerian Ivy
When grown outdoors, as ornamental plants or ground cover, Hedera algeriensis strongly favors locations that offer partial sun and partial shade. Algerian ivy plants can also tolerate deep shade, but those with variegated leaves are likely to begin showing solid green leaves after some time. Fret not, though — if the spot you place your Algerian ivy in is too shady for its liking, the plant will creep over to a sunnier spot on its own soon enough. Although these ivy vines are native to North Africa, they should not be placed in locations that received full sunlight for much of the day — this will cause their leaves to burn.
Algerian ivy does not have a strong preference for a certain temperature range, and will thrive in most temperate climates — as illustrated by the fact that they are popular in the rainy UK as well as in sunny California! Some varieties are frost-sensitive, but most Hedera algeriensis vines will even tolerate harsher winters quite well, so long as they are planted in a spot where they are protected from harsh winds. Similarly, Algerian ivy can succeed in both dryer and more humid conditions.
If you have especially cold, freezing, winters, one option would be to grow Algerian ivy as a container plant. This will enable you to move them indoors to overwinter, for instance in a garage. To prevent the vines from spreading out too much, Algerian ivies kept in containers will need more regular pruning.
Soil-wise, Algerian ivy isn’t too picky, either. Hedera algeriensis can do well in any neutral to slightly acidic, or even salt, soil type that can drain well. These plants prefer to have access to moist soil, but cope with periods of drought, too. In warmer, dryer, climates, such as California, they need supplemental watering.
When grown indoors as a houseplant, Algerian ivy should be placed in a spot that receives plenty of bright, but indirect, sunlight — your plant will thank you by being healthy and strong if you place your Hedera algeriensis near a window. The other thing to watch out for would be to keep Algerian ivies kept as houseplants away from heating vents or air-conditioning units, as prolonged exposure to dry and hot air will make them very unhappy.
These plants do not need fertilizer to thrive, and should never be fertilized during extremely hot or cold spells. If you choose to feed your Hedera algeriensis fertilizer, choose a heavily diluted liquid fertilizer, every two weeks to a month during the spring period. Prune their runners to stop them from branching out into new areas, where they may not be welcome, ideally during the late winter period. Spray your Algerian ivy with neem oil to protect it from pests.
Watering Algerian Ivy
Algerian ivy usually won’t need extra watering. However, if you live in an exceedingly dry climate or you have not had any rain recently, watering your Algerian ivy will support its continued health. People living in dry climates also have another reason to water their Algerian ivy plants — when it dries out too much, this vine will start posing a fire risk.
Some people swear by supplemental watering, believing that it will render the plant’s beautiful large leaves even more vibrant — and watering won’t harm your Algerian ivy.
Propagating Algerian Ivy
The easiest way to propagate Algerian ivy is through stem cuttings. Hedera algeriensis can also be propagated from seed. This method is harder than propagating through stem cutting but not impossible. It is also a pretty long process.
The steps you’ll need to take to propagate through stem cuttings are:
- Prepare a container for your Algerian ivy cuttings, and fill it with a coarse sand and perlite mix, which should be pre-moistened.
- Using a clean and sharp knife or pruning tool, cut a six inch (15 centimeter) length from a mature Algerian ivy plant. Select a vine that has at least three to four nodes.
- Plant the ivy cutting in your container, covering three nodes with soil.
- To trap moisture, cover the cutting and its container with a plastic bag. This will make sure that the Hedera algeriensis cutting remains humid, and encourages it to take root.
- Place the cutting in a warm spot that will receive at least six hours of indirect sunlight.
- Keep an eye on your Algerian ivy as it grows, watering it every time the top layer of soil becomes dry. It will take about three weeks for cuttings to star to root and in about six weeks it will be ready to be repotted.
- Your Algerian ivy will be ready to bring into the garden after about two to three months. After as little as half a year, it will truly begin to thrive and spread!
Although far trickier, let’s take a look at the steps you would need to take to propagate Hedera algeriensis from seed as well:
- The first step you need to take to propagate Algerian ivy from seed is known as “cold stratification”, during which you simply keep Hedera algeriensis seeds in your refrigerator for a month or two. This will allow them to germinate later.
- Once your Algerian ivy seeds are taken out of the fridge, you will need to soak your seeds overnight. Put them in a bowl of water at room temperature.
- You can now plant your Algerian ivy seeds by pushing them into a moist potting mix in a small pot gently. To keep your seeds moistened, mist them with water whenever the soil is becoming dry. Your Hedera algeriensis seeds will germinate quickly, within three or so days.
Ivy vines are popular as ornamental garden plants all over the world, and Algerian ivy is especially beloved for its variegated varieties, which have large marbeled leaves. These plants are easy to take care of — and will, in fact, spread so quickly that you may have a hard time keeping up with the pruning! They look their best when grown on trellises or as ground cover, but Hedera algeriensis can also be kept as a beautiful houseplant.