Tree ivy is a botanical curiosity: a natural hybrid occurring not between two species of the same genus, which is a relatively frequent occurrence, but between two different genera. It is, in other words, the horticultural equivalent of a mule. The plant resulted from a cross between Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica), a large-leaved evergreen shrub, and English ivy (Hedera helix), a small-leaved climbing plant.
Description of tree ivy: The tree ivy bears large, deeply cut evergreen leaves, shaped rather like a giant ivy leaf. Its growth habit is intermediate between its two parents: It tries to climb like an ivy but with stiff, thick branches. Unable to fix itself satisfactorily to a support on its own, it generally ends up taking on a shrubby appearance. Ease of care of tree ivy: Easy.
Growing tree ivy: Avoid full sun; tree ivy is subject to sunburn during the winter months. It grows well, however, in light to heavy shade, particularly on the north and east sides of buildings. It should be protected from drying winds at all seasons.
Propagating tree ivy: By cuttings.
Uses for tree ivy: Tree ivy can be pruned into a shrubby form or allowed to trail along the ground as an evergreen ground cover. It will also climb well as long as it is attached manually to its support. It makes an excellent indoor plant.
Related variety of tree ivy: x Fatshedera lizei 'Variegata,' with white-margined leaves, seems to grow better as a houseplant than as an outdoor specimen.
Related genus of tree ivy: Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica), an evergreen shrub suitable for USDA zone 7 and above, produces large, leathery, evergreen leaves up to 12 inches across and large clusters of yellow flowers followed by blue berries that last all winter.
Scientific name of tree ivy: x Fatshedera lizei