Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Dec 22
3 min read
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Wall of green ivy

In Christmas traditions Ivy is the femanine counterpart to the masuline holly. According to the English, whichever one was brought into the home first would be telling of the woman or man of the house ruling the following year.

Decorating with these plants traditionally was also used to ward off evil spirits as it was used in homes and Winter Solstice Festivities.

Because the growing habit of ivy requires a supporting structure people were to be reminded of their need to cling to God for support.

German traditional use solely used ivy for outdoor decoration and protection from lightning. Just don’t decorate with ivy before Christmas Eve otherwise you will experience bad luck, rather than protection.

One of the reasons ivy is so popular for holiday decoration is its evergreen properties. As it was used for winter solstice celebrations the evergreen life would act as a symbol of hope and rebirth.

Because it was one of the only flourishing plants during the winter it was also believed to provide safety for woodland spirits.

If you would like to keep some ivy around all year long, you can also use it as a houseplant. The most common houseplant ivy is English ivy (Hedera helix), a climbing evergreen.

In the Clean Air Study conducted by NASA English Ivy was found to be one of the most productive plants at cleaning the air of harmful pollutants. In another study it was also found to reduce mold.

If you struggle with asthma or other health issues, improve your living environment by adding a few plants to your home.

It can also be grown outdoors in cold and low light conditions for its climbing habit, or used as a groundcover as it spreads quickly. When used outdoors it provides a source of nectar for bees late in the season.

If you struggle with keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, the introduction of ivy may be a good idea for you. In an Oxford study it was found that ivy kept the inside of a building directly covered with ivy there was a 15% increase in temperature during winter months and a 36% drop in summer months.


Ivy kills trees - If you have a strong, healthy tree there is no reason to worry. Because ivy is a shade lover it will stay beneath the tree’s canopy allowing the tree regular access to sunlight. In cases of weak and diseased trees the ivy may encourage spread of the disease as it promotes a cooler, more moist environment that many pests and diseases thrive in. Also, it is not a parasitic plant. This means that it does not withdraw nutrients from the tree.


It is not easy to get rid of - Because of its vining habit ivy spreads easily securing itself to anything it can. This can cause roots to be put down in multiple locations, essentially creating several plants from the original planted. If you are looking for a plant that stays where you put it, this is not the one for you (houseplants grow much slower than in an outdoor environment).

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