There are only about a dozen different types of ivy that fall under the true genus name for ivy, Hedera. Many plants that climb are called ivy as well, even though they do not fall within the Hedera genus. The most common type of ivy is English ivy; other types are quite rare, such as Cyprus ivy. Generally, the various types of ivy are named after their native countries.
Although the types of ivy may look similar, there are subtle differences between them. For example, Algerian ivy has red-colored stems, while Japanese ivy has purple stems. In addition, Persian ivy has large leaves that are shaped like hearts, while the leaves of Cyprus ivy are much narrower.
Some types of ivy have flowers and fruit. For example, Himalayan ivy is known for its clusters of small yellow flowers and yellowish fruit that eventually turns dark in color. It is an avid climber, making it difficult to keep the plant in place.
Many people are familiar with English ivy, also known as common ivy or by its species name, Hedera helix. There are many different variations to this plant. For example, the leaves may be dark green or they may be variegated with white. Some variations are shrub-like, while others produce an abundance of dark fruit and small green flowers. This species grows so prolifically that it is considered a noxious weed in some parts of the United States.
To grow many types of ivy, only a stem cutting is needed. Once the roots take hold, the evergreen vine needs very little water. If a person chooses to fertilize the plant, it should be done sparingly. Although some species of ivy are more susceptible to pests, fungi, and other issues, most are relatively hardy. The main problem that gardeners face with ivy is overwatering. In that case, leaf spot may develop.
There are many plants that do not fall within the Hedera genus that are still called ivy. For example, poison ivy is not a true species of ivy. In addition, the invasive vine, Boston ivy, is not a member of the Hedera genus. On a simplistic level, many people consider any evergreen plant that can climb to great heights to be a member of the ivy family.
Generally, ivy grows well outside, particularly in native soils. These plants may also be grown indoors. Although ivy is well known for its ability to climb walls, trellises, and other structures, it can also grow well from hanging baskets and in large pots. Some types of ivy, such as Persian ivy, make a thick ground cover as well.