Ivy is a plant which is very easy to grow and care for, making it popular in some regions of the world as an ornamental. People can plant ivy as a ground cover, or train it for use as a topiary or privacy screen. This plant often prefers being left alone to being fussed over, which can make it ideal for gardeners who do not want to invest a lot of effort.
Usually, people plant ivy from cuttings. Cuttings can be obtained from existing ivy plants around the property, or they can be provided by friends and gardeners in the area with ivy plants. Some cuttings may already have aerial roots, in which case they can be planted right away, while others can be placed in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel so that they will root. If cuttings are not available, a nursery can provide baby ivy plants, including special-ordered species.
Ivies thrive in most climates, but they don't like areas which are too cold or too sunny. In areas where it freezes during the winter or gets extremely hot in the summer, ivy should be planted in the shade so that it will be partially protected. To plant ivy, gardeners should prepare the soil by working it and adding compost or fertilizer to provide support for the young plant. Cuttings or small plants can be set out and watered after the soil has been worked, and allowed to grow.
To train ivy once it is planted, gardeners can use trellises or custom-built frames which will encourage the plant to grow in a particular direction. For example, an arbor could be used to make an arch over a walkway, or a trellis could be installed next to a wall to allow the ivy to grow on the trellis, hiding the wall without damaging it. Ivy should never be allowed to cling directly to a fence or building, as it can become very destructive.
Indoors, people can plant ivy in pots of a variety of sizes, and keep the pots in an area which gets bright indirect light or a few hours of sunlight a day. Pots are ideally suited for topiary, and some nurseries sell topiary forms which can be used to train ivy, along with accessories like clippers which can be used to shape topiary as it grows.
Before a gardener makes the decision to plant ivy, he or she should do some thinking. While ivy can be very attractive, it is also highly invasive. Ivy can choke out native plants, and run amok in the garden if it is not controlled. Neighboring gardeners may object if someone plants ivy, due to concerns that the plant will spread into their gardens and cause problems.