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What Is an Algerian Ivy?

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  • Written By: C. Ausbrooks
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis) is an evergreen climbing plant native to the Canary Islands, North Africa, the Azores, and Portugal. Also known as Canary Island ivy, it grows rapidly and produces large, glossy, dark-green leaves. Although closely related to the more popular English ivy (), the two plants have a few distinct differences. Algerian ivy has red leaf stems and larger, shinier leaves with five to seven lobes, and it grows more quickly under optimal conditions.

This plant is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Gardeners in warm climates value the hardy vine for its attractive foliage and ease of care in the home garden. The plant is commonly used as a ground cover, where its thick leaves provide interest underneath large trees, and add uniformity to the landscape. It is also used to hide the spent foliage of spring-flowering bulbs, or to cover walls, trellises, and fences. In cooler climates, gardeners grow the plant indoors in hanging baskets or decorative containers.

Like other types of ivy, the vine is adaptable to most soil types. It performs best when grown in moist, rich soil, however, and does not require any particular soil pH level. The plant tolerates partial to full shade, and it may wither if planted in an area that receives direct sunlight for most of the day. Shady areas under trees or large garden plants make the best home for Algerian ivy. The plant is also tolerant of salt, which makes it a useful planting for areas near bodies of salt water.

Because of its tropical origins, Algerian ivy may sustain permanent damage at temperatures below 20°F (about -6.67°C). Some variegated types may be damaged at even warmer temperatures. In general, green-leaved varieties tolerate colder temperatures than those with variegated leaves, but specific cold tolerance depends on the variety.

The ivy's rapid growth makes it invasive without proper care. Regular pruning to keep the vine within bounds will be necessary. If left unattended, the plant will take over a yard or garden, and may even damage nearby buildings if allowed to grow up their sides.

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Although generally not damaged by disease, Algerian ivy may develop leaf spot if grown in an area with little air circulation. Leaf spot causes round blemishes to appear on the plant's leaves, as a result of the growth of bacteria or parasitic fungi. Other problems include snails, scale, and sooty mold, although the plant's long-term health is typically not affected by these pests. Proper care, including light fertilization during the growing season and providing adequate moisture without over-watering, should prevent most pests and diseases.

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