Senecio macroglossus (Wax Ivy)

Senecio macroglossus (Wax Ivy) is an evergreen climber, up to 10 feet (3 m) long, with smooth, thin, flexible branches that bear triangular or 5-pointed…

Cape Ivy - garden

Other Names: syn. Delairea odorata, German Ivy, Parlor Ivy

A non-woody vine producing fleshy, glossy green leaves with angular lobes creates a dense groundcover or screen, and is great for hanging baskets will spread and seed vigorously in warmer climates where it is considered invasive

Cape Ivy's attractive glossy lobed leaves emerge light green in spring, turning green in color the rest of the year. It features dainty clusters of lightly-scented yellow flowers held atop the branches from late winter to early spring. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Cape Ivy is a multi-stemmed annual with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a high maintenance plant that will require regular care and upkeep, and can be pruned at anytime. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration

  • Invasive
  • Self-Seeding

Cape Ivy is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Hanging Baskets

Cape Ivy will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. As a climbing vine, it should either be planted near a fence, trellis or other landscape structure where it can be trained to grow upwards on it, or allowed to trail off a retaining wall or slope. Although it's not a true annual, this fast-growing plant can be expected to behave as an annual in our climate if left outdoors over the winter, usually needing replacement the following year. As such, gardeners should take into consideration that it will perform differently than it would in its native habitat.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by cuttings.

Cape Ivy is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in hanging baskets. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

German Ivy, Cape Ivy (Senecio mikanioides)


An evergreen climber in its native South Africa, German Ivy is popular as an annual vine and houseplant. The lush, glossy foliage is similar in appearance to English Ivy and works well as a filler in annual combinations, or solo trailing from a hanging basket. Provide bright light and good air circulation if overwintering indoors.

Use as an accent or specimen in beds, planters and window boxes. Looks great spilling over container edges. Wonderful for combination plantings.

Plant Feed

Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.


Basic Care Summary

Best in fertile, well-drained soil. Keep soil moist, watering freely in dry weather. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly. Trim back as needed to keep neat and compact.

Planting Instructions

Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller). Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy. Give plants an extra boost by adding a granulated starter fertilizer or a balanced all-purpose feed (for example fertilizers labeled 12-12-12).

Check the plant label for suggested spacing. Crowding plants can result in fewer blooms and weak growth as the plants compete for light. Exceptions to this might be regions with a short growing season, shade plantings which tend to grow slower and fill in less quickly, or a need to fill an area with color quickly such as for a special event or if planning to entertain guests outdoors.

Remove the plant from the container. If plants are in a pack, gently squeeze the outside of the individual plant cell while tipping container to the side. If plant doesn't loosen, continue pressing on the outside of the container while gently grasping the base of the plant and tugging carefully so as not to crush or break the stem until the plant is released. If the plant is in a pot, brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot.

Dig the hole up to two times larger than the root ball and deep enough that the plant will be at the same level in the ground as the soil level in the container. Grasping the plant at the top of the root ball, use your finger to lightly rake the roots apart. This is especially important if the roots are dense and have filled up the container. Set the plant in the hole.

Push the soil gently around the roots filling in empty space around the root ball. Firm the soil down around the plant by hand, tamping with the flat side of a small trowel, or even by pressing down on the soil by foot. The soil covering the planting hole should be even with the surrounding soil, or up to one inch higher than the top of the root ball. New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks to get them well established.

Vining annuals require vertical space to grow, so provide a trellis, fence, wall or other structure that allows the plant to grow freely and spread.

Watering Instructions

New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks. After that, depending on the weather and soil type, watering can be adjusted to every two or three days. Clay soils hold moisture longer than sandy soils, so expect to water more frequently in sandy settings.

Different plants have different water needs. Some plants prefer staying on the dry side, others like to be consistently moist. Refer to the plant label to check a plant’s specific requirements.

Ideally water should only be applied to the root zone - an area roughly 6-12” (15-30cm) from the base of the plant, not the entire plant. A soaker hose is a great investment for keeping plants healthy and reducing water lost through evaporation. Hand watering using a watering wand with a sprinkler head attached is also a good way to control watering. If the garden area is large, and a sprinkler is necessary, try to water in the morning so that plant foliage has time to dry through the day. Moist foliage encourages disease and mold that can weaken or damage plants.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Fertilizing Instructions

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product with a nutritional balance designed to encourage blooming (such as 5-10-5).

Too much fertilizer can actually damage plants so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed plants.

Pruning Instructions

Prune plants freely to maintain the desired size and shape. Pinching plants back stimulates dense, bushy new growth and encourages more flowers.

Remove old flowers to keep plant looking healthy and prevent seed production that drains the plant’s energy at the expense of forming new flowers.

Some plants are grown only for their attractive foliage (such as coleus, dusty miller and flowering kale). Their flowers are not very showy and any buds should be pinched off to keep the foliage looking its best.

Plants→Delairea→Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata)

Botanical names:
Delairea odorata Accepted
Senecio mikanioides Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit:Vine
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Full Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Plant Height :12 to 15 feet or more
Plant Spread :Trails and climbs over shrubs and trees, forming dense mats that smother other vegetation.
Fruit:Other: Small achene with papyrus or crown of hairs. Most seeds are not viable but when viable seed is produced, they can be dispersed long distances by the wind.
Flower Color:Yellow
Bloom Size:Under 1"
Flower Time:Late winter or early spring
Underground structures:Rhizome
Suitable Locations:Houseplant
Will Naturalize
Resistances:Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Toxicity:Leaves are poisonous
Fruit is poisonous
Other: Contains alkaloids that are toxic when ingested. Toxic to animals when ingested and can kill fish when plant materials soak in waterways.
Propagation: Other methods:Cuttings: Stem
Stolons and runners
Containers:Suitable for hanging baskets

Native to South Africa, Cape Ivy is a perennial vine that forms dense mats of vegetation as it climbs trees and shrubs. It is considered a noxious weed and has become invasive in some areas. The vine has two to four multilobed leaves that somewhat resemble Hedera helix (English Ivy). This plant reproduces by seed as well as vegetatively when the stolons touch the ground and take root.

Delairea odorata, possibly better known as Cape Ivy, is one of two trailing plants that give my green thumb grandmother a hard time. Since I've had D. odorata in my care, I've noticed that it likes a bit more water than many of my similarly-sized plants.

My research indicates that D. odorata "prefers to grow in wetter temperate regions, but will also occasionally be found in cooler sub-tropical environments" ( https://keyserver.lucidcentral. - Weeds of Australia, 2016), which is most aptly summed up by the quote provided, but is supported by both my observations and additional research I have done. Delairea odorata is, perhaps, more inclined to moist habitats than many other "ivy" plants.

I like to water relatively often and spritz the leaves of D. odorata between waterings. So far, my plants have been thriving under these conditions, and my grandmother's ailing cape ivy specimen has come back from the brink under similar care.

Delairea Species, Cape Ivy, German Yedra, Parlor Ivy


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 2, 2018, Fizgig777 from NYC, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A wonderful plant for pollinators in its native habitat, but highly invasive in all suitable climates for it outside of that native habitat.

By the way, the hardiness zone info. listed on this site for this plant is wrong. It is known to be hardy well into zone 6 -- treat as a perennial.

On Mar 2, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Long grown as a houseplant, this species has naturalized in Hawaii, coastal California, and Oregon. CAL-IPC has listed it as invasive of natural habitat. Biocontrol options are being explored in official channels.

On Jul 28, 2011, cabngirl from Sonoma, CA wrote:

I just now learned what this kudzu-esque vine is when I saw it for sale from Hirt's Gardens on Ebay. I felt like screaming when I saw it. I've wondered what this plant is for years. I accidentally brought some with me from a place I lived where it had grown on the side of an old wood shed. It was seemingly innocuous there, and in fact I liked it, liked the fresh herbal-green scent and the way it casually spilled over the awning.
BIG MISTAKE allowing it to live at my new residence. It's now twining into my plantings and requires constant tearing out. Any little piece of it can take. (I am in Sonoma, zone 9a/b). It has not been significantly fazed by our cold snaps which have dipped well into the 30s and even 20's a few times each winter, nor does it mind temps up into the triple dig. read more its and is content with little water, full sun or part shade, being neglected and being crowded seems to only provide it with shelter in which to spread. Nothing eats it that I can tell. I have been considering turning to dreaded chemical means to eradicate it but as I say it's entwined with other shrubs, and near a big oak I would not want to harm. The only other thing I can think of is extreme action of cutting back and or digging up everything along that section of fence (which thank God is isolated) and then probably I'd still have to use chemical means since any little piece left will start. Any suggestions as to the best way to deal with it would be appreciated!

On Dec 4, 2010, insipidtoast from Santa Barbara, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I'm not sure how to notify the folks in charge of maintaining these datasheets, but this datasheet needs some major revision.

First, I can testify, firsthand, that this plant is hardy in zone 10. And, as other comments suggest, it is hardy through Zone 9, 8, and maybe even further?

Second: Since this plant is invasive in mediterranean California it clearly does not have average water needs. In our region we average about 15 inches rain/yr with a 9 month dry season.

Also, the invasive disclaimer should be applied to this one. It climbs via twining it's stems around other plants, and I have observed NO tendrils. As invasive as it is, I have not ever observed one smothering the canopy of any mature, Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia). It will, how. read more ever, smother everything else.

On May 7, 2009, giftgas from Everson, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I've been wanting this plant for a LONG time, and I've finally tracked some down. I was extremely surprised to find out that this plant was a member of the SUNFLOWER family - no wonder it grows so rapidly. :)

I am not sure how it will perform, but I am going to use it as living wallpaper inside of my house.

On Apr 10, 2006, Dave_in_Devon from Torquay,
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

Here in South West England it seems to be gaining a foothold and is an absolute menace. Its rank growth is exceptionally rapid and everything is smothered in no time at all. I first noticed it growing through scrub in coastal woodland about 15 years ago. Now it is moving inland and has even taken hold amongst native shrubs and trees in a lane behind my garden. I spent several days last year ripping it out to prevent an invasion, but this spring masses of new shoots have appeared from below soil level. It seems to run at and below soil level as well as climbing high into trees. It may have been a popular pot plant in cold, north European countries, but in mild winter regions, it is a serious menace.

On Jun 26, 2004, Kachinagirl from Modesto, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Watch the video: How to Propagate Ivy. Tips for Success!

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