Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Plants I Know and Love #11: Oak Leaf and Grape Leaf Ivy

Good morning. This is Tina, and I am here to introduce to you one of my favorite houseplants, the Oak Leaf and/or Grape Leaf Ivy. They are both beautiful vining, hanging plants which grow well for me. I have one hanging in the bay window in my dining room, a small one on the windowsill there, and three large ones in my living room. When I take them down to water, the windows look naked to me. They are part of my window treatments.
This is a grape leaf ivy which is full because it has been pinched back. I almost always use my ivies as hanging houseplants, but they look very pretty on a table. Give them lots of space though, they like to stretch out.

I admired these lovely plants for years before I managed to keep them alive in my home. I would bring one home, try it various places, and always end up with it dying. Then I finally found the secret weapon: always keep them moist.
I have my ivy plants hanging in windows facing South, West and East. They each get varying different forms of light. A North facing window would work also as long as it isn't shaded. Do not let them sit in direct, hot sunlight. Not only will it dry them out too much, but it will fade the colors of the leaves. You want the leaves to be nice and dark and shiny. Yellowing leaves is a sign of not enough plant food. Feed them about four times a year with a regular plant food.
If you feel the plants are getting too straggly, you can pinch the ends. You can take starts from the ends and root them in water easily, also, and place the starts back in the same pot to fill in bare spots.
This is my largest plant. Each of my hanging plants I have had for about ten years, and they are still in their cheap plastic pots. They do well in them as long as I keep them well watered. I have had to add soil to the top through the years, since some soil gets lost each time I water, no matter how careful I am. This plant has been pinched back at times, and once in a while a section will just break off, which I might stick in water to root. About every two weeks or so it will lose a leaf or two. But it just keeps getting bigger. It is in the east window, but gets no direct sun, because there is a covered porch just outside.
When I was still working a co-worker of mine had two beautiful (at least they started out that way) grape leaf ivy plants in her upstairs, windowless cubicle. They were not doing well. Having finally learned how to have success with mine at home, I gave her my best suggestion for good results: always keep them moist, but not soggy. The best way to water them is to take them down and put them in a sink and let the water run in and through until they are thoroughly damp, then let them drain well, shake them a bit, and hang them back up. Don't let them sit in water. Soon she had beautiful thriving plants and I believe she still does, six years later.
Here Cheshire Cat (Chessie) hides in the jungle of an oak leaf ivy hoping to pounce on Luna.

During the holiday season my ivies have been known to be decorated with my glow-in-the-dark light plastic vintage ornaments, so they will have icicles, snowflakes and stars hanging from them soon. If you decorate your hanging plants, keep the decorations light so that you don't strain or break their lovely branches.

5 comments:

Heidi Ann said...

They look so pretty - and of course your lovely drapes are such a fabulous backdrop.
I want to see them decorated for Christmas!

1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

awwww love the kitty!

Creative Breathing said...

These truly are lovely plants! They really do look like oak leaves that are on the big tree in my back yard. It is so funny that your secret in CA is to water, when here in Ohio it is to let them dry out! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Wishing you a joyous holiday season! Elizabeth

Lorlore said...

Beautiful plants, Tina. You always did have the 'green thumb' of the 3girls!!

yosemite faith said...

i have no plants in my house for a reason - i am unable to - just. can't. do. it. but at least in moving back to my home state of michigan - there is so much outside to make up for my lack of green thumb. love that you included chessie in your photos.