The Q&A Archives: Quick-growing Ivy In Containers

Question: I live in a first floor apartment in Alexandria with a big beautiful balcony and lots of windows that everyone in the parking lot next door can look directly into. I'm thinking of putiing a wire mesh up along a small portion of my balcony and climbing ivy up it in order for some privacy. This particular area of the balcony gets lots of morning sun and some afternoon sun. I'd need to be able to plant in containers (preferably relatively small ones that won't take up too much space) and I'd like it to grow fast (I'm thinking Jack and the Beanstalk speed here). Any suggestions on how I should get started (I've never planted ivy - or much else - before). Other suggestions would be welcome as well.

Answer: English ivy (Hedera helix) will grow in containers and should grow in that location; it is evergreen for all year protection, too. It would grow on mesh or wooden trellis, or on a solid surface -- it uses hairy feet to stick itself to whatever it can reach. It will grow faster if you keep it well watered and fertilized. The larger the container the better in terms of keeping the soil evenly moist and insulating the roots during the winter. You might consider using some of the water holding polymer in the soil mix to help reduce the frequency of watering, too.

I am not sure that the ivy will grow fast enough to suit you, so you might want to try some of the annual vines such as moonflower vine or morning glories. These grow faster and bloom, but they are much bigger vines and would need proportionately larger containers. They will also die with the first fall frost.

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