Ivy from Nova Scotia *


I have tried growing Ivy that I got from my Niece in Nova Scotia. It just grows wild in her shaded back yard. I have tried three times now but as soon as I put it in PEI soil is dies. Any suggestions ?


It can be very disappointing to not have success in growing plants that one admires from someone else’s garden. The first step to successful transplants is to understand the conditions that the plant needs to survive. Two of the basic factors to consider are the amount of light and the type of soil a particular plant requires.

There are several different types of ivies; the true ivies (Hedera helix–English or Baltic ivies) or (Hedera colchica–Persian ivy) are woody, climbing or trailing evergreen vines originally from Europe and Asia that could be hardy in both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. Other plants that are referred to as ivies are Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) or Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). It is doubtful that either of these is the Ivy to which you refer.

English ivy grows easily in well-drained, evenly moist soils in part shade or shade conditions. Even though ivy can tolerate a range of soils, it prefers rich, loamy soils that do retain a consistent moisture. You mention that the ivy from your niece grows wild in her shaded back yard. Although you may have planted the ivy cuttings in shady conditions as well, there may be a significant difference in the type of soil that you have. The soil in P.E.I. is predominately a well-drained, fine sandy loam. Nova Scotia has a much wider range of soil types. The soil in your niece’s backyard, while being well-drained, probably contains more organic matter (humus). A rich, loamy soil can retain the consistent moisture that the ivy requires. Ivy is not drought-tolerant and also needs to be protected from prevailing winds.

A couple of suggestions to successfully transplant the ivy would be to keep it growing in a pot of the good potting soil until the roots become established. Then you can transplant it into your garden after you have added some organic matter/compost to the spot in your garden where it will enjoy some shade and protection from the sun and wind.  Mulch around the plant, water it well and keep the area moist throughout the growing season. It should then grow successfully in your garden. Keep in mind that you will need to add organic matter to your soil on an annual basis–once the ivy is growing you can simply place organic (e.g. leaves, shredded bark, compost) materials on top of the soil–the worms and other soil-organisms will incorporate the matter into the soil.

Depending upon how close you live to the water, there could possibly be an issue with salt content in the soil that might prevent the ivy from establishing in your garden. But if you are able to successfully grow other plants, there should be no problem.

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners. We hope that you will soon be able to establish ivy in your garden.