Ivy Tips & Techniques | Midwest Living

Ivy Tips & Techniques

Let ivy inspire your home decorating this season.
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By training vines to cling to holiday-shaped wire forms such as wreaths and trees, you can grow your decorations.

A tabletop wreath adorned with fresh or dried fruits and flowers makes a festive centerpiece. A kissing ball becomes a living ornament to hang from an arched doorway or in a corner. Or try tucking fresh cut flowers into the ivies of an elegant dish garden to perk up a buffet table or for a holiday gift.

Varieties Galore:

Choose ivies in an assortment of types and colors, including some with green leaves splashed with silver or gold. Others have curly or ruffled leaves. We like Manda's Crested ivy, because it's easy to grow indoors. The plants have star-shaped leaves that grow curly, full and bushy, ideal for a hanging basket or wreath.

The small, dark-green foliage of Needlepoint ivy grows dense and compact. Dark-green Calico, which is splashed with cream in the center, resembles arrowheads. Both of these tiny-leaved types work well for kissing balls, dish gardens or wreaths.

Tips and Techniques:

  • You can train ivy to cover a bare form in a variety of shapes such as a cone that resembles a tree. Or use topiary forms that have been filled with soil and sphagnum moss. To water a topiary, mist it with a sprayer. After plants root securely, dunk the form in a bucket of water.

  • Misting deters spider mites. These tiny pests suck moisture from ivy leaves and thrive in the hot, dry air of a heated house. Avoid overwatering, which may rot roots. Let plants nearly dry out before wetting the soil. As vines grow, tuck new shoots under topiary forms.

  • For fast growth, place ivies in bright light. Most ivies need 2 or 3 months of growth before they completely cover the form that you choose.

  • Ivies do best with good air circulation. As soon as the danger of spring frost passes, move ivy plants outside to a sheltered, shady spot. Give them a couple of weeks to become accustomed to wind and brighter light before moving them into a partially sunny area.

  • Poke Osmocote, a fertilizer into the soil every 3 months. Once the ivy gets growing, you can prune extra growth to the shape you like.

  • Before freezing temperatures arrive in the fall, bring your plants inside. By holiday season, your ivies will look lush and be ready to dazzle your guests once more.

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