For many years I dismissed ivy as a weed, a nuisance, growing over shady edges of the property and into the lawn. Yet ivy can be a real asset to your garden. And also for the animal world valuable last food supplier in the year.
On an old wall in the garden ivy has grown up the last years and on the upper edge it forms fresh shoots with flowers and berries in autumn.
The special feature is that ivy blooms very late in the year, in September and October – long after most plants have already flowered. This makes it the last possible stop for insects such as bees, but especially butterflies, to feed. Even later in the year, it then forms dark berries that are readily eaten by native birds.
Ivy does not harm neighboring plants
Ivy, or more precisely common ivy (Hedera helix), is a widespread climbing shrub in our country. It can climb trees, shrubs and walls up to 20 meters. However, it is by no means a parasite and does not draw its nutrients from the plants it entwines. It feeds itself via nutrient roots on the ground and forms adhesive roots when climbing upwards, with which it gives itself a foothold. Thus, it does not harm the surrounding plants, but can deprive them of light by spreading.
Therefore, the plant is very popular as a ground cover, privacy screen and greener for walls, facades or walls. It is often used in cemeteries because it is easy to care for and evergreen. However, ivy should only be used on smooth walls – in old groves and cracked stonework, the plant can penetrate crevices and accelerate decay.
Plant provides greenery throughout the year
Ivy also offers some advantages in the garden, if you get a little involved with the plant: It is evergreen, undemanding to soil and location. It prefers moist, nutrient-rich soil, also thrives well in the shade and spreads quickly – hence its frequent classification as a weed. However, ivy can be cut back and contained very well at any time.
It forms its valuable flowers and berries mainly on the shoots at the top, which get plenty of light. However, it takes several years before the first flowers appear.
The berries are poisonous to humans
Ivy is even a medicinal herb and was medicinal plant of the year 2010, but the plant is poisonous. The berries should not be eaten in any case, a few berries can already lead to severe nausea. Especially children should know this.
The leaves are also slightly poisonous, they can cause skin irritation when touched. Therefore, gloves are recommended when working with ivy.
Healing effect of ivy
As a medicinal herb, the extracts of the leaves are mainly used to treat coughs. In general, the plant has a decongestant, expectorant effect and thus helps with infections, such as bronchitis. The main active ingredient is saponins.
Because of this active ingredient, ivy leaves can even be used as a detergent. A biological detergent is thus quickly produced.
Numerous ivy species available
There are many varieties of ivy. In addition to common ivy with dark green leaves, for example, the variety Goldheart with yellow colored leaf center or Irish ivy with larger leaves are popular. Not all varieties are as hardy as the common ivy, so some of them can be planted in containers.