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English Ivy vs. Algerian Ivy: 7 Differences

English Ivy vs. Algerian Ivy: 7 Differences

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English ivy is more popular than Algerian ivy, but both varieties are great for indoor and outdoor growth. Both are climbing plants that grow to astounding heights within a wide temperature range. A handful of distinct differences between these ivies make them worth considering before you choose either of them.

The differences between English ivy and Algerian ivy are that English ivy can grow over twice as tall and is more invasive. English ivy grows faster than Algerian ivy, which is less temperature-resistant and grows better in moderate climates. Algerian ivy must be pruned before winter.

In this article, I’ll discuss the seven primary differences between Algerian and English Ivy. I’ll also discuss pruning suggestions, temperature requirements, and more. Let’s get started! 

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1. Appearance Differences

English ivy and Algerian ivy look similar, but there are several ways to tell them apart. Here’s a quick list:

  • Algerian ivy leaves are bigger and have shallower lobes than English ivy.
  • Algerian ivy is typically light green with white edges, whereas English ivy is dark green with light yellow edges.
  • English ivy leaves look much glossier than Algerian ivy leaves.

The main reason most people mix up these plants is that: 

  • Both ivy varieties can have between 3 to 5 lobes. 
  • They both have varying green colors. 
  • Both ivy types have similar textures. 
  • They also grow almost exactly the same when used as ground cover.

2. Cultivation and Climate Requirements

Algerian ivy is more suitable for tropical climates due to its North African origins (source). This is one of the many reasons English ivy grows better in lower temperatures than Algerian ivy. 

Both ivies are cultivated in Florida and its surrounding states. Both also grow in very similar conditions. They require plenty of water and filtered sunlight and can tolerate direct sunlight if it’s not too hot.

Both varieties can grow along buildings, other plants, and more. You can also grow both plants indoors, but you must prune them more frequently due to their rapid annual growth.

3. English Ivy Grows Faster

English ivy typically grows about 9 feet (2.7 meters) annually, which is around 1 foot (0.3 meters) greater than the growth rate of Algerian ivy. It might not seem much of a difference, but it’s pretty staggering after a decade or so of growth. 

Many people have ivy as ground cover or house decor and grow it on the sides of their home or shed. If you want decorative ivy, English ivy might be the best choice because it’s dense and grows as fast as almost any ivy variety you’ll come across. 

It’s worth mentioning that English ivy requires more regular pruning or in larger increments.

4. Pruning Seasons

It’s best to prune English ivy after winter, right before it starts growing. If you prune it too early, you risk leaving exposed wounds that could invite diseases. You can take up to a foot (0.3 meters) or more off a mature English ivy plant, but you should avoid removing roots or old growth that forms the ivy’s foundation.

If you have Algerian ivy, you should prune it right before winter. However, some people prune their Algerian ivy as early as mid-fall. The good news is both plants can handle heavy pruning without the risk of permanent damage. 

That said, following regular pruning schedules will yield the best results for future growth.

5. English Ivy Is More Invasive

You must control English ivy to grow it around your home. While Algerian ivy has the potential to be invasive, it’s not nearly as problematic as English ivy. Planting English ivy around your home won’t cause too many issues, but it’s essential to prune it regularly to minimize the risk of it harming other plants.

Here’s a quick list of reasons English ivy’s invasiveness can be bad for your yard:

  • Overgrowth will prevent other plants from receiving the sunlight and nutrients they need.
  • Too much English ivy will make it difficult for native insects to pollinate and grow other plants in the area.
  • English ivy can grow over other plants, killing them and taking their space in the garden.

6. Algerian Ivy Is Less Resistant to Temperature Fluctuations

English ivy can withstand temperatures down to 10°F (-12.22°C) for short periods without wilting (source). 

Algerian ivy typically experiences growth problems around 20°F (-6.7°C). Nevertheless, dormancy doesn’t cause either plant to die.

Both ivies grow best around 65°F (18.33°C), but English ivy can healthily grow up to 85°F (29.4°C). Afterward, Algerian ivy growth starts to slow down.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures can cause dry leaves on both ivies, and too much ice or frost can cause similar problems.

See How Much Light Does English Ivy Need Per Day?

7. Maximum Height Differences

English ivy is well-known for its ability to grow to the sky. This climbing ivy plant can grow up to 100 feet (30.5 meters) tall, whereas Algerian ivy typically doesn’t exceed 40 to 50 feet (12.2 to 15.24 meters).

The notable size difference isn’t much of a factor unless you have a large wall or house that exceeds 50 feet (15.24 meters). However, remember that English ivy will grow much longer until it’s pruned.

If you’re using ivy for ground coverage, you won’t have to worry about height differences. Both plants can grow indefinitely in any horizontal direction.

You don’t need to plant more than a couple of ivy plants because they’ll eventually drop more seeds and spread further. However, English ivy will cover the ground faster than Algerian ivy.

Final Thoughts

English ivy is more common due to its ability to adapt to various living conditions. On the other hand, Algerian ivy is less invasive and easier to manage when it’s growing outdoors.

Both ivy varieties are mildly poisonous but make an excellent ground cover. You can also grow them on fences, buildings, and trees.

To ensure that they don’t harm nearby plants, both ivies must be pruned regularly, especially if you have the English variety.

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Willie Moore
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