Last week on Instagram, I posted a gorgeous ivy-covered home posing the question, “Has anyone ever lived in an ivy-covered home? I hear the ivy is damaging and would love to learn more.” The post generated over 6,000 likes and 135 comments! It seems most everyone loves the romance of these charming homes… but they can be high-maintenance. After reading all the comments, I thought it would be fun to summarize them here today and share a plethora of additional ivy-covered eye candy.
Comments regarding problems with ivy included damage to bricks and to mortar between the bricks, as well as ivy finding its way into screens, cracks in windows, and spaces between wood siding. Apparently it can hold moisture against the house causing mortar to crumble. One person had to replace the mortar between the brick. Ivy can also adhere to stucco causing stucco to pull away from the house. Some comments suggested there was less of a problem in dry climates vs. damp, high humidity climates. However, others indicated that they had not had these issues.
There were two things that were apparent in these comments. One: Ivy has to be maintained, i.e., trimmed at least a couple of times a year, kept away from screens and windows, and kept away from creeping into vents, etc. Two: One should choose the best type of ivy… Apparently some types of ivy are more damaging than others. English Ivy, Boston Ivy, Fig Ivy, and Virginia Creeper were suggested as less damaging alternatives.
Another problem mentioned with ivy was the critters that it can attract. Rodents, spiders, birds and their nests, and bugs and insects in general are a few examples. One person described how a snake had crawled up the ivy onto the roof and into a vent going into the house. It got under the bed in a guest bedroom and caused quite a stir. Another said her ivy was used by squirrels as a super highway to the roof of their house where they caused damage. They cut the ivy back several feet from the roof and solved the problem. One person said that her ivy had become a breeding ground for big cockroaches.
In spite of these potential problems with ivy, very few people indicated that the problems were so great that they had it removed from their homes. The sentiment seemed to be that it was worth the hassle. One person said that it takes a long time for it to do serious damage. “It just takes monitoring and maintenance to keep it in check.” Another said “there is always a price to pay for fashion.” Regarding the potential damage, another person said “but I don’t care, it is too beautiful.”
A popular alternative, Virginia Creeper, can grow in sun to full shade, where soils are soggy to dry and even in lightly alkaline soils. The adaptability of the plant makes it suited for any site but care should be taken to keep it off wood siding and gutters. The vine climbs and adheres to vertical surfaces with aerial roots, and the weight of the plant could pull off boards and misalign gutters.
Additional information on Creeping Fig can be read here, and visit here for more on English Ivy. These are two more alternatives that were mentioned. Another recommended alternative is Fig Vine. But some warn of the damage they can cause as well.
There seems to be mixed reports on all suggested alternatives. I think the bottom line on all ivy type plants, even the alternatives, is that they can cause some damage, especially if they are not kept in check. But they are so beautiful that they are worth it! To see my Instagram post on the subject and all 135+ comments, please click here. I’d love your thoughts, please weigh in!