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Muehlenbeckia Complexa, also known as Australian Ivy and Maidenhair Vine or is a low growing semi-evergreen which can make a good groundcover in milder regions of the UK. We have found it for example to be evergreen in most parts of Southern Britain. It is grown for its beautiful green foliage and cascading spreading habit. Its small leaves and delicate, scented flowers make it a very useful ground cover which will bounce back even from footfall.
Even though its common name is Australian maidenhair vine or Australian Ivy, Muehlenbeckia Complexa is actually native to New Zealand, and has been grown in the UK since 1842. It has small, dark green leaves on contrasting reddish wiry, interlaced stems that create a dense mass. The foliage remains year-round in milder regions. In autumn, it produces small, greenish fragrant flowers.
Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK, Muehlenbeckia Complexa will grow to a mature height of 0.5 metres in UK conditions and spread of 1.5-2 metres in 5 to 10 years. Trim if required to keep this vigorous grower within desired bounds! If planting as a groundcover, space Australian ivy plants 30 cm apart.
Muehlenbeckia Complexa should be planted in full sun or partial shade in a sheltered position with a south or west facing aspect. It will do best in moist, well-drained sand, chalk or loam soil. In its native New Zealand it grows on sand dunes, so can take a drier soil as well as thrive in a coastal location. Somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, Australian ivy can also be grown in a city garden. As well, it is deer resistant.
In the milder Southern regions of Britain such as Cornwall, Deven, Sussex and also in London, Muehlenbeckia Complexa is an excellent groundcover or climbing plant, suited to covering a wall, fence, or slopey bank. It also makes an excellent pergola vine, providing shade from the hot summer sun. It may survive farther north with winter protection. Australian ivy can also be used as a container plant in summer, creating thick mats of leaves under taller plants as well as spilling over the sides. Brought inside for the winter, it makes an attractive hanging plant in a conservatory or bright window, with its trailing stems and emerald green foliage. Because of its dense growth habit, Australian ivy also can be used to train over topiary forms.
Muehlenbeckia Complexa is an excellent, attractive and low-maintenance ground cover. Whether in a container or covering a wall or slope, this New Zealand native can find a place in your UK garden!
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