English Ivy – Substitutes

Q: I’m looking to replace beds of English ivy with something less intrusive and more controllable. My main objective is ground cover/ground stabilization. The replacement needs to thrive in the same lighting conditions that my ivy does so well in and it needs to be fairly drought resistant. Ideally it would spread quickly so as to spare me years of laying down pine straw. What would you suggest?

A: Theresa Schrum, plant rescue leader for the Georgia Native Plant Society, says that in her opinion, English ivy is nothing more than “English Kudzu.” Its destructive ability is obvious to those who have had their landscapes nearly smothered by it.

Once you remove all the ivy and are sure it’s not going to return, you will want to amend and loosen your soil before planting a new groundcover. According to Theresa, there are several evergreen groundcovers that are excellent for partial shade which will not be invasive and should be drought tolerant. Her list includes the following plants; those marked with an asterisk are native to northern Georgia.:

Carex (variegated)
Lamium (a quick spreader)
Partridgeberry ( Mitchella repens)*
Alleghany Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)*
Canadian Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Saxifrage (Saxifraga longifolia)
Creeping raspberry
Dwarf Mondo Grass
Green and Gold (Chrysoganum virginianum ‘Eco Lacqueed Spider’)

Groundcovers to AVOID include:

Vinca (very invasive)
Euonymus (pest problems)

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