English Ivy Plant Care

Botanical Name: Hedera helix

With lobed leaves and lush, trailing vines, English Ivy is an elegant accent plant. Small-leafed ivies blend beautifully in a dish garden, adding texture to a variety of tropical plants.

Although commonly grown as a hanging plant indoors, its aerial roots can easily be trained to climb a moss stick or trellis. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, train ivy on a topiary.

English ivy is a vigorous grower when it gets the light and moisture it wants. You’ll want to repot in spring every couple years to give it a slightly larger pot to grow in to and to freshen the soil. Don’t jump from a small container to a much larger one (no matter how beautiful it is) because it will hold too much water, which can lead to root rot.

Varieties of English Ivy

There are hundreds of types of ivy varieties — some with plain green leaves, others are variegated with yellow, gold or creamy white. Many named cultivars are available to choose from.

As their names suggest, ‘Itsy Bitsy’ is a small variety. ‘Curlilocks’ has wavy leaves. Among those with variegated leaves are ‘Gold Child’ (one of my favorites) splashed with yellow-gold, white and shades of gray. ‘Glacier’ ivy has silvery gray-green leaves edged in creamy white.

Common English Ivy Problems

Dry, crispy leaves? Cool, moist air and evenly moist soil will help your English Ivy thrive indoors. Protect it from drafts and heating vents. Mist the plant often to keep its leaves from drying out. Misting also helps to keep away spider mites that love to attack this plant.

Prune it back, if you want to keep your ivy plant to a desired length. Light pruning can be done any time of year.

Wilted leaves? Dry soil or consistently soggy soil will each cause leaves to wilt. Over-watering is usually the problem and leads to root rot. It’s best to use a container with drainage holes, water thoroughly then empty the drainage tray. Water less often in the winter months when growth is slower.

Faded foliage? Growing ivy with plenty of bright light will help variegated ivies to keep their color. Prune off any stems of variegated ivy that reverts to all green.

Is it poisonous? Yes. English ivy leaves are poisonous if eaten and can cause skin irritation. It’s a good idea to wear gloves while handling this plant, and to keep it away from children, cats and dogs.

Ivies add color, texture and fresh style to any room — mingling with large-leaf plants or on their own.

Tips for Growing English Ivy House Plants

Origin: Europe

Height: It will climb as high as it is allowed to.

Light: Bright light, but no direct sun. Ivy thrives under fluorescent light. If a variegated variety changes to mostly green, it isn’t getting enough light.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy spring through fall; slightly drier in winter when growth is slower. Wilted leaves are a symptom of dry soil; however, root rot caused by soggy soil will also cause leaves to wilt. It’s a good idea to use a container with drainage holes. Water thoroughly, then empty drainage tray.

Humidity: Aim to maintain a 40% relative humidity or higher around the plant. Raise the humidity by misting with water or standing English ivy on a tray of wet pebbles. Humidity can drop drastically in the winter. If your home gets too dry, use a cool-mist room humidifier.

Temperature: Cool to average room temperatures (50-75°F/10-24°C) year-round.

Soil: Peat moss based mix with added perlite or vermiculite for good drainage. African violet potting mix is ideal.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly from spring through fall with a high-nitrogen liquid or water-soluble fertilizer.

Propagation: Take 3-4 in (8-10 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring and root in moist soil or water.

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Ivy Houseplant Care: How to take Care of an Ivy Plant?

Ivy is one of the no-fuss and easy growing houseplants that can do quite well with neglect as much as they do with care. This wonderful plant can grow lush and long while bringing you a dash of green to your living space.

English Ivy is available in these varieties:

  • Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)
  • Nepal Ivy (Hedera nepaulensis)
  • Japanese Ivy (Hedera rhombea)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis)
  • Russian Ivy (Hedera pastuchovii)
  • Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)

Other than these, you can also find Gold Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Kolibri Ivy, Asterisk Ivy, California Ivy and many more.

The ivy plants are native to Asia, Europe and North America. The varieties are found in over 100 of colors, plant size and shapes of leaves. The plant is quite versatile and can grow both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, you can use it as a tabletop arrangement, in a hanging basket or make it sit in a sconce or use it as topiary.

  • Botanical Name of English Ivy:

Ivy’s botanical name is Hedera Helix. While Hedera is the generic term for English ivy, helix is derived from a Greek word, which means twist or turn.

  • Growing English Ivy Indoors: An Overview

Since there is an array of ivies available for your living space, you can choose one in preferred color, leaf shape and size.

If you keep on providing and fulfilling its needs in terms of water, light and humidity, it is a relatively easy plant to grow indoors as well. The most critical element here is light. Ivies need bright light but can’t tolerate direct light either. Low light can make the plant sick and leggy. It may produce short leaves and its growth becomes stunted if it doesn’t get proper light. The variegation on the leaves, which is its charm and the prime reason people buy ivies for, fades away and the leaves are left with plain and dull green. Without proper lighting conditions, ivies become far more susceptible to pests and disease than they are outdoors or in proper light. Apart from the light, you should also pay attention to the soil as it should be well-drained and evenly moist. The water regimen should also change as the weather changes.

Fertilizer is yet another requirement for the plant, which should be done in spring. You should avoid using fertilizer during winter or when plant is growing leaves. Winter is a hibernation period for the plant and you shouldn’t fertilize it as it can damage the plant permanently. Misting can help plant to retain its humidity and prevent the infestation of spider mites.

If the infestation is too much and kind of irreversible, opt for green solution and spray from top to bottom. Don’t forget to spray on inner parts and curved leaves.

In Europe, you can find almost English ivy covering walls of every household. In fact, the government recommends planting it to provide insulation in winter and cooling in summer. The plant also shields the building against exposure to sun, temperature fluctuations and soil moisture. It is also used to hide unsightly walls and facades and to bring a dash of extra dash on vintage buildings. However, the decision of using English ivy for a green façade should be a conscious one as the plant is an invasive species and can intrude to tiles, roof spaces and even gutters, causing blockage and seepage in the walls. The plants can also become home to insects, bugs and mice. So, if you are considering English ivy as a façade or wall sconces, keep pruning it regularly and if the plant becomes unruly, root it out from the stumps.

Growing and nurturing English ivy at home can be very rewarding. After all, who would not want to watch the wonder of nature unfurling at your home and getting accolades for it!

  • Words of Advice:

Since English ivy grows actively, is an evergreen and fierce vine that clings to trees and plants nearby, it is very important that you prune it regularly. It has its benefits such as clearing the toxins from air and mold particles from indoor air but it is a very invasive species and it can hamper with the growth of other household plants. Hence, it is advised that you keep pruning it regularly to limit its height or make it grow to a desired length.

  • Identifying Ivy:

The plant has training vines and lobed leaves. The plant has become the preferred choice of homemakers and interior decorators all over the world. English ivy is a wonderful and cost-effective home accent. If you want to jazz up a dull corner or want to bring a dash of nature to your home, consider this plant. For dish gardening and as a container plant, English ivy is the perfect choice as it brings variety to your collection.

The leaves of English ivy are placed alternatively and in a petiole arrangement. They are 2-4 inches long and the space between them is about 0.8 inches. Ivies have two types of leaves. The young leaves have five lobes that stem out of climbing stem whereas adult leaves are unlobed and cordate. These adult leaves are placed in cordate arrangement and stem out of fertile stem. These are usually on the top, the place that gets full and bright light.

  • English Ivy Flowers

The flowers spring from the mature stem, the part which gets full light and is on the top. The flowering phase occurs from late summer to late autumn. The flowers are about 2 inches wide and greenish-yellow in color. These are very small in size and nectar-rich. In late autumn, when the food is scarce for bugs and bees, these flowers become the main source of food for them. However, indoor ivy plants rarely blossom. If you can maintain the exact requirements of the plant, you can experience this woody vine in its full glory and blossoming.

  • English Ivy Fruits:

The fruits of English ivy are berry-like and orange-yellow or purple-black in color. About 0.3 inches in diameter, the fruits ripen in late winter. The fruits are considered poisonous for humans but for some birds, it is a major source of food. Birds are also the main pollinators of the seeds that are in a berry. Usually, there are one to five seeds in a berry, which are dispersed during the eating process.

The plant grows actively and can grow as a vine as much as it wants. The shiny green leaves are speckled with creamy white, gold or yellow color. The stems are covered with foliage. The roots are aerial and can double up as a vine, further accentuating your living space.

  • Air-Purifying Plant

NASA has included English ivy plants as clean air plants that purify the air by clearing air borne toxins such as carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde. It is in fact, one of the top 10 clean air plants.

  • English Ivy Houseplant Helps Reduce Mold

Moreover, it has also been established that the plant helps eliminating the mold particles from the air. It is to be noted that air-borne mold particles have been diagnosed as the trigger of asthma, throat infections and serious illnesses. With English ivy, you can reduce the count of indoor mold particles in your household. A study linking the effectiveness of English ivy in reducing the indoor mold particle has been done by Hilary Spyers Duran, West Coast Clinical Trials Practitioner. Besides, WebMD Health News has also studied and established the credibility of the study.

During this study, the researchers kept English ivy in two containers, with dog feces and moldy bread. After six hours, it was found that the plant has reduced the mold particles in the jars by 58% and 60% respectively.

English Ivy in Medicines:

Ethno-medical uses of English ivy have been prevalent since times immemorial. The plant’s leaves and fruits were taken orally as a cough expectorant and to treat bronchitis. Even today, the extract of ivy leaves and fruits are a part of many cough medicines. In the year 1597, famous British herbalist, John Gerard used ivy infused water to wash sore and infected eyes. However, people who have been diagnosed with type IV hypersensitivity and have allergy from even carrots, can develop contact dermatitis from the leaves of English ivy.

  • Toxicity

You should keep the plant away from pets and kids as the plants, when indigested, can be poisonous. The Ivy Houseplant can also cause skin irritation and it is advised that you use gloves while pruning or watering the plant and wash the hand thoroughly after this.

The toxicity level of ivy plants is 3.

  1. Light:

The plant needs bright yet indirect sunlight. In proper lighting condition, the plant can grow lush and green whereas low lighting can stunt the growth of the plant and leaves can be smaller and with larger margins. If you can spot burnt leaves or brown spots on the leaves, it is a sign that your plant is getting too much light. Variegated leaves lose their color and remain just green due to the lack of proper light.

The plant can also thrive quite wonderfully in fluorescent light.

  1. Water:

Both overwatering and under watering the plant can be deadly for the plant. It is recommended that you let the soil dry up to at least 20 percent before you water it again. Crispy leaves on the plant are an indication of overwatering. However, the soil shouldn’t be soggy. You should make proper arrangement for the drainage of excess water. Keep the soil little drier in winter but evenly moist during spring-fall.

  1. Fertilizer:

The plant requires plant food in every two weeks in spring and summer. Provide fertilizer of half the recommended strength. Don’t fertilize the plant when it is too hot or cold. One shouldn’t fertilize during the growing phase of plant, especially when the leaves are growing out or when soil isn’t wet. You can also use a liquid fertilizer that is rich on nitrogen content. Use it monthly for better results.

  1. Humidity:

The plants prefer medium to high levels of humidity to thrive. Don’t keep the plants anywhere near heat vents because the heat can dry up the soil. Moist air and soil is quite necessary for the plant. You can create a mini greenhouse in your home near ivy plants if you find that humidity levels go further down to 50%. Keep the pot on wet pebbles tray and arrange other houseplants nearby. Place a mini humidifier to raise the humidity.

You can also try misting the leaves with water alternatively. Misting also helps the plant to keep pests like spider mites at bay.

  • Temperature:

Cooler temperatures ranging from 10-21degree Celsius is preferable. However, make sure that the temperature remains consistent. Temperature shock can cause the plant to go into dormant phase unexpectedly.

  • Pest:

English ivy plants are vulnerable to infestations of scale, mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites and white flies. Spider mites’ white webs are often seen on the plant when it doesn’t get proper humidity. To prevent infestation, you can spray the plant with green solution.

  • Soil:

Soil that is well-drained, rich and organic is perfect for English ivy plants.

  • Diseases:

English ivy plants are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases.

  • Pruning:

Keep pruning the plant to promote it overall growth. English ivy is grows quite fast and you can help it reach a desired length by pruning it.

  • Propagation:

Stem cuttings can be used to propagate the plants. Take stem cuttings of about 8-10cms and root them in the soil. The time to propagate stem cutting is spring and you can use water to root them too.

  • FAQs on English ivy:

I can spot some fine webbing on the plant. What is it?

It is spider mites. Spider mites attack the plant due to dry air and low humidity. Mist the plant to maintain its humidity. In case the infestation is too much, spray green solution on the leaves.

The leaves on my ivy are turning crispy. Is this alright?

Despite the popular belief, the leaves of English ivy turn brown and crispy due to overwatering. It is recommended that you allow the soil to dry up at least 20% before you water it again. You need to make sure that the soil is well-drained. The soil should remain evenly moist but not soggy.

The new leaves on my ivy are small while the old leaves are turning pale.

The new leaves are further apart and smaller because of improper and low lighting conditions whereas the pale leaves are due to the infestation of spider mites. Spider mites happen due to low humidity levels and dry air. You can consider keeping the plant in bright and indirect light to initiate proper growth of the plant.

And if the infestation isn’t much, you can try misting the leaves and if it is beyond control, reach out for green solution, which is undiluted alcohol mixed up with a few drops of biodegradable soap and mineral oil.

I can spot white sticky patches all over the ivy leaves. What are they?

The white patchy spots on ivy leaves are due to mealy bugs. The only solution to this problem is green solution.

The white ting on the ivy is gone. It is just green now.

Low lighting can make the variegation on ivy leaves disappear. If your plant isn’t getting proper light, keep it nearby window sill where it can get bright but indirect light. Keep rotating the pot to prompt uniform growth in the plant.

  • How to maintain the appearance of English Ivy:

You can judge the health of English ivy by its leaves. If your plant has dry leaves, it is an indication that the plant needs moisture, moist soil and cool atmosphere. You can move your plant to a cooler place and mist the leaves so that they don’t dry and retain the moisture level.

If you want the plant to grow up to a desired length, prune it to trigger its growth. Routine pruning can be done throughout the year to maintain its shape and appearance.

Light is necessary for the plan to thrive. Green leaves with no variegation should be cut off the stem. Keep rotating the pot to expose the plant to the light for a holistic growth.

  • Tips for Buying English Ivy

You can buy ivy houseplant online or from nearby garden or nursery. These are some tips that can help you choose the right plant for your space:

There are hundreds of plants you can choose.

If you don’t have much space at home or office, you can go for Itsy Bitsy ivy, which is a small cultivar and low on maintenance as well.

Want to add some drama to your home? Go for ‘Curlilocks’ that has curved and wavy leaves. Gold Child has gold, white and gray color splashed all over the leaves. Similarly, Glacier has leaves with creamy white edges and of gray-green color.

Ivy (botanically: hedera helix) is a common sight in yards and parks. Anyways, the plant, which is a member of the aralia family, can also be held as an indoor plant. Since ivy prettifies your room throughout the entire year with its ever-green leafs, we would like to introduce you to ivy as a vine or hanging plant.

Plant Profile

  • family: aralia family (araliaceae)
  • genus: ivy (hedera)
  • species: common ivy (hedera helix)
  • trivial names: ivy, common ivy
  • origin: Europe, Mediterranean areas
  • ever-green, climbing decorative leaf-plant due to aerial rootlet
  • height: depending on species 300 to 400 centimetres
  • heyday: September to October
  • multi-lobed leafs in crème to dark green respectively variegated
  • frost-resistant and enduring plant
  • toxic substances in all parts of the plant

Back in ancient Egypt, ivy was well-known and keenly anointed Osiris, the God of the sun. The old Greeks, too, knew the enduring plant and anointed it Dionysis, God of wine. Also, ivy is often seen on paintings of the previous century or on porcelain. It is categorized as a fast-growing and ever-green climber, a ground-cover plant with few standards to ground and habitat. Our tending guide describes in a detailed manner the claims and features of hedera helix.


Perhaps it is due to is low-standard character that ivy grows outdoors just as well as indoors. Within around 400 species there are many that do very well indoors. Interestingly, even decorative ivy can live up to 100 years. Therefore it pays out to have a closer look at these room plants and to undertake them good care.


As a friend of plants you place hedera helix at a rather cool spot. It is not quite fond of warmth. Therefore a sunny windowsill with a radiator is not the ideal spot. Regardless, it does love light, which is why a bright room with indirect sunlight irradiation is a great spot. Even in semi-shade it can develop wonderfully. A temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius with a rather high humidity is ideal. A bathroom is ideal for that purpose, in other rooms it should be damped from time to time.

Tip: Species with colorful leaves needs a brighter location than species with monochrome, dark green leaves.


As a low-standard plant, normal flower soil suffices the standards of ivy. To strengthen the plants, some horn chips can be added as a long term fertilizer. It is important that the soil is loose and doesn’t allow for waterlogging.

Seed and propagation

Ivy is bought as a plant or augmented with cuttings. Therefore continue reading in the section regarding increase.


Planting and repotting of ivy

The single ivy plant grows well on its own, but the pot takes on the desired bushy look if one plants more than one plant.

In that case one speaks of “ampelhaltung”. It is possible to cultivate hedera helix saggy or as a climber. This too should be considered beforehand. For climbing ivy, a bigger pot with space for two to five ivy plants and an additional growth support should be chosen.

Therefore it is important to:

  • choose a pot and cachepot of sufficient size
  • buy a growth support or build one from wire

Fill the pot with fresh flower soil and add some chipped horn to it. Then plant the plants and fill the pot up with soil once more. It is up to you to decide how many plants you deploy. For five plants make sure the pot is sufficiently spacious. If you want, deploy the growth support into the pot. If the plant is long enough, it can be wrapped around the growth support carefully. After the planting, pour the plants sufficiently and keep them moist.

Season of planting

The perfect season to repot is spring, alternatively autumn, too. The plant is much more comfortable, if the repotting is prior to the heating period. Spring offers the better conditions though, especially if the plants are rather large already and the roots peak out of the pot already. The new pot should be about two finger-widths larger than the old one.


Just like a lot of other plants, ivy doesn’t like waterlogging. Make sure it is kept moist, but not too wet. Those who don’t have much experience in pouring plants and ofttimes drown their plants can add some sand or cobblestone to the soil. They improve the flow of the water. Expanded clay is also suitable, it takes in spare water that the plants can use in dry phases. Expanded clay can also be used as a water store for ivy.

Using the finger trial you can easily determine whether the plant needs pouring or not. If the surface is dry, the plant needs water. The conditions change due to the change of seasons and the humidity of the room.

  • don’t use fresh tap water
  • use rainwater or old tap water to pour
  • remove spare water from the saucer
  • during winter, pour less often but damp the plant from time to time


Ivy as a house plant is very agreeable to cutting. Due to its great growth, the green plant can be cut at will. Thereby you control the long vines or the vegetation on the growth support and keep your house plant at the size you like.

This is how you cut it properly:

  • the best time for the cutback is spring
  • start by thinning out weak and withered branches
  • then cut on the above of the leaf nodes that point to the outside

During the year, too, small correcting cuts are possible. Always cut with good sharp scissors to minimize the risk of an infection. If you desire a bushy growth for your young plants, cut off the shoot tips from time to time.

Tip: Wear gloves while cutting, even hedera helix contains toxic substances.

For the same reason, do not dump your clippings in places accessible by animals.


Increase through cuttings

At the cutback you receive a lot of cuttings that can be used for the increase.

For that purpose you need shoots of about six to eight centimeters length. Now several shoots are placed in a pot with pre-swollen turf. The shoots should be slightly damped and covered by a plastic bag. Hereby the main factor of increase is humidity. Success is indicated by growing roots and fresh shoots.

The perfect time is between February and October. Alternatively you can put the shoots into a glass of water for a couple of days and set into a pot with soil with cultivation conditions after the shootout of the roots.


Hibernation of hedera helix is not an issue as long as the pot is not placed near a radiator. Between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius it is visibly comfortable. Mind that the humidity is sufficient. For this reason damping the leaves regularly is almost more important than the (in any case reduced) pouring with chalk-free water. The soil remains moderately moist.


To ensure the ivy develops splendidly, it is recommended to fertilize it from time to time. Since the soil, other than the soil outdoors, stops nourishing the plant after a while, fertilizing is recommended. Once again it becomes clear how low the standards of ivy actually are.

However, if you want a strong growth you should fertilize between March and September, either with a liquid fertilizer once in a fortnight or with a long time fertilizer which is worked into the soil.

Leaf ornamental plants prefer a nitrogen-based fertilizer, which should be added to the pouring water in a very low concentration.

Tip: Never add fertilizer to dry soil. It is better to fertilize after damping the soil.

From September on, fertilizing is not necessary anymore. The plants now slowly change into hibernation.


Seldom spider mites find their way onto ivy. In that case bright dots appear on the surface of the leaf, the leaf starts getting brown and withers. On the bottom of the leaf you can recognize dozens of tiny mites.

If the ivy is placed close to a radiator it should immediately be removed. It is possible to give the ivy a shower or completely dip the vines. Hereby the bottom of the leaves must be fully wetted to remove the mites. If this is not successful, it is necessary to use a commonly available product.

Greenflys, too, are unpopular visitors. The vermits that come in the colour green, yellow, brown or black like to pitch onto the young shoots. In this case it is only sensible to pick the greenflys off by hand or to dip the plant into slightly soapy water. In case there are still greenflys on the leaves you can wipe them off with a cloth soaked with slightly soapy water.

The same goes for scale insects, which might cause the death of the plant. Here, too, tepid water and the removal of the vermins are the first measure. If this is not sufficient, commonly available products against greenflys are to be used.


Due to ivy’s strong health there are no records of disease.


Genus and species

Curly Variegated, curled hedera helix

An insiders’ tip from plant lovers is the curled hedera helix. It fascinates with a curled leaf-edge and gives room ivy a whole new look. The leafs are crème-green and very divergent to classic ivy. Curly variegated can measure up to 300 centimetresand does not stand frost.

Hedera helix goldheart

Another new eyecatcher is hedera helix goldheart. This species has leafs crested with golden colour and loves sunny locations, however without intense noon sun.

Hedera helix glacier

Green and white leafs, streaked with silver lines – that is hedera helix glacier. This species is the ideal room plant, especially if you are looking for a long ivy that is not branched too often.

Hedera helix harlekijn

Hedera helix harlekijn grows with colourfully patched leafs on a dark green base. This new breeding cultivates different forkings and measures up to 250-350 centimeters.

Hedera helix chicago

This species is the classic room ivy. It first came up in the sixties and has not lost popularity ever since. Decoratively heart – shaped lush green leaves with slightly rose stems bring variety to the room.

A sub-species, variegata, is lined with withe additionally. Hedera helix chicago is fitted for locations in shade or semi-shade.

English Ivy (Hedera helix) Houseplant Care

English Ivy Basic Plant Care

English Ivy (Hedera helix) is a very common houseplant. The evergreen, woody-stemmed plants are often seen trailing across yards and gardens, climbing walls, or encouraged as climbers along a supporting pole inside homes for a beautiful and decorative houseplant accent. Basic care for English Ivy houseplants is relatively easy. The plants require an evenly moist and relatively humid environment, consistent temperature, and an occasional pruning.

English Ivy Care: Light Requirements

Native to light woodland areas, English Ivy houseplants thrive in an environment of bright filtered to low light. Ample light helps the leaves become more colorful but filter the light to prevent excessive heat which can lead to drying and poor performance.

English Ivy plants are not greatly affected by hot and cold temperature but fluctuating temperatures can stifle performance dramatically. Keep English Ivy in an atmosphere with a consistent temperature and away from drafts, open doors, or vents. Temperatures below 40oF will cause the leaves of the plants to take on a different shade. All-green ivies turn red or purple. Maroon streaks take over yellow-leaved cultivars. Marginally variegated ivies turn pink at the edges.

English Ivy Care: Water Requirements

English Ivy (Hedera helix) plants prefer an evenly moist environment. Water the plants freely during growth. Keep English Ivy houseplants moist in the winter. Spraying English Ivy with soft water weekly will help prevent spider mites from infesting the plants.

English Ivy Care: Fertilizer Requirements

English Ivy care requires the application of a balanced (20-20-20) liquid fertilizer monthly for enhanced plant performance. Another option often preferred is to apply a quarter strength fertilizer when watering.

English Ivy Care: Pests & Diseases

Pests and pathogen difficulties may occur with English Ivy. Plant care and maintenance helps reduce these problems. Common pests affecting English Ivy plants are spider mites, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. Red spider mites are often difficult to see without a close inspection. However, white webs formed on the plant are usually indicative of a spider mite infestation. Remove the infested leaves and treat the plant with a pesticide or insecticidal soap.

Deer are an animal pest that may be problematic for English Ivy plants. However, in humans also, ingestion of any part of the plant will cause severe discomfort. Contact with the sap or airborne hairs may aggravate skin allergies or irritate skin. Typical pathogen (fungal and bacterial) problems affecting English Ivy houseplants are bacterial spot, stem rot and fungal leaf spots.

English Ivy Care: Propagation & Potting

Maintaining healthy soil during care for English Ivy is relatively easy. Grow the plants in soil-based or soilless potting mix that allows for ample water drainage and moisture retention. Your local nursery will be able to help you select the right soil.

Root cuttings are the preferred method of propagation. Root the 4-6 inch cuttings of young (not matured) growth during the spring to autumn. More mature cuttings (adult growth) of 7-9 inches will produce a bushy “tree-ivy” type of growth but root very slowly if at all.

English Ivy Care: Pruning

Winter growth of English Ivy plants tends to be very long without bearing many leaves. Trim areas like this with lots of woody growth but few leaves. For the plant to fill out properly during growth cut the stems down to strong growth areas.

Buy English Ivy plants from a local florist.

How to Grow and Care for Ivy Plants

Growing Ivy in the Garden

Plant ivy in partial to full shade in well-drained garden loam enriched with peat moss, compost or leaf mold.
Ivy growing in full sun tends to winter-burn, so it is particularly important to have them planted in the shade in Zones 4-7 where winters are very cold.
Set Ivy plants out in the garden in the spring, planting English Ivy 12 inches apart and Algerian Ivy 18 inches apart. It is important to be sure that the plant and the soil are well watered prior to setting them.

If the plant is to grow up a wall, put them as close as possible to the base of the wall. New plants should be pruned to 6″ and then not fertilized for the first 3-4 months.
Once established, feed Ivy plants every other month with an all purpose (10-10-10), preferably organic, fertilizer during their growing season.
Regular pruning 2-3 times a year will promote fuller growth, but the plants can be trimmed at any time there are bare spots.

Ivy can be propagated by cuttings, which are only partially successful, or by layering (pin a section of the stem to the ground, where it will root, after which you can sever the new start from the parent plant.

Growing Ivy as a Ground Cover

As a ground cover plant, Ivy is invaluable because of it’s ability to discourage soil erosion. As the Ivy vine grows, it sets roots into the soil deeply and densely, and creates a network of roots which binds the soil, helping to prevent erosion and slippage on slopes. Ivy has the ability to climb almost any vertical surface, clinging by means of aerial roots. Once established Ivy plants will rapidly cover any wall or fence with lush evergreen foliage.

Propagating Ivy Plants

Dividing Ivy Plants. As with most perennials, you can divide the ivy clump by cutting through the mass using a sharp knife or your shovel, or just pull the root ball apart with your hands. Remove any dead or sickly portions and then simply replant.
Softwood Cuttings. If time is not a consideration you can take softwood cuttings about 6 to 8 inches in length, remove the lower 2-3 leaves and insert the cutting into some damp sand or vermiculite. Keep it in a warm spot, and the roots should develop fairly rapidly (anywhere from 10-20 days) giving you a new plant.
Tip Layering. If you intend to keep the plant in the same general area, you might want to layer the stems by just pinning the stem to the soil. The new roots will develop soon, and you can clip the stem between the old and new plant, after which you can remove the parent plant.

Diseases and Pests that Affect Ivy

Most diseases that affect Ivy can easily be controlled by following sound gardening practices and with prudent and careful pesticide applications.
Bacterial leaf spot and stem canker begins as light green spots which later turn brown or black. The leaf stalks become black and shriveled. Avoid high temperatures, high humidity, and wetting the foliage.
Several different fungi can attack and cause leaf spots. Infected leaves can be easily picked off and destroyed. Watch for spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, scale and white flies….
Spider mites are very small and are very hard to see without a magnifying glass, but heavy infestations can cover the leaves with very fine webbing quickly. The plants gradually lose their green color and appear dusty or speckled. Submerging the plant in a solution of mild soapy water is often succesful in combatting spider mites. You can also use insecticidal soaps or use a house plant insect spray according to label directions.
Mealybugs look like white puffs of cotton. They suck plant juices and heavy infestations will coat the leaves with sticky honeydew. Mealybugs can be tough to eradicate. They have a waxy covering which tends to repel liquids. I would suggest (and prefer for safety’s sake) that you dab each individual insect with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol. Systemic insecticides and some house plant insecticides are sometimes effective, but be certain that it is appropriate to use them on Ivy plants. Always read the entire label of any pesticide or other chemical, and only use when it is absolutely necessary. You must be vigilante in rechecking your plants every 2 weeks or so to be sure that you have eliminated every trace of these bugs or you will quickly be facing the problem all over again.

Aphids are small flea size insects which suck plant juices. They are usually found at the leaf axis or stem tips. A serious infestation will coat the leaves with sticky honeydew, which may then develop a black, sooty mold. Aphids can be green, white, pink or black, and are often accompanied by ants who farm them. Aphid are easily controlled with diligent use of rose dust or other suitable commercial remedies.
Scale insects are usually light brown or tan. They have hard shells and attach themselves to the stems or undersides of the leaves. Sprays are usually not effective since the shell protects the insects.
Heavily infested plants should be discarded immediately.

Hedera helix

The English Ivy Hedera helix, care as a houseplant is not difficult for those just starting out or seasoned indoor plant veterans.

English ivy the common name for Hedera helix is probably one of the most durable of all houseplants, but care must be taken with watering.

Like many ivies, the English ivy does not like drying out for long periods of time. On the flipside, they also don’t like over-watering.

Hedera helix – English Ivy via:commons.wikimedia.org

During the active growing season, when growing in a pot, they do like a regular diet of a liquid feed fertilizer like Miracle Grow, about every 3rd watering.

For best results, use a well-drained soil designed for houseplants. An English green ivy plant can be an active grower and can require frequent repotting.

NOTE: A potted English ivy makes a nice plant addition for the bathroom.

How To Propagate English Ivy

One of the outstanding characteristics of English ivy is the case with which it propagates.

New plants will start easily from cuttings taken at almost any time of year; the cooler periods, however, are preferable.

The first way to propagate ivy indoors is by layering.

For starters, select vines or a runner which is fairly long.

Short pieces, known as mallet cuttings, with only one strong node and having potential roots below a tuft of leaves, do nicely; so take longer cuttings of older wood.

Just under a leaf joint about half way down the stem, very carefully strip away about an inch of bark.

Next “pin” the area where the bark has been stripped away down to the surface of another pot with moist potting soil.

Hold the rooting stem in place with a paper clip or piece of electrical wire.

Once the stem has rooted and given some time to develop, clip the stem from the “mother plant.”


English ivy can also easily propagate by tip cuttings. The problem is – tip cuttings root easily but do not develop very fast.

During the spring or summer months, take tip cuttings and stick them is a good indoor potting mix. The cutting can be dipped in a rooting hormone if desired.

I like to root plants in a mini-greenhouse we like to call a soda-bottle planter.

Place the container of cuttings in an area where it will receive bright light but not direct light. In a few weeks, roots will form and the cuttings can be replanted in a new container.

Growing English Ivy Indoors: Pests and Problems

Attacks of pests and diseases are very infrequent.

Indoors plant scale and aphids can be a problem attacking new growth and hiding under leaves. This can produce leaves that are distorted, malformed and have a stickiness secreted from the insects.

Treat with a pesticide (neem pesticide), an insecticidal soap or Malathion. Make sure the plant is sprayed thoroughly including the undersides of the leaves. That is where many plant bugs like to hide.

Thrips can cause silvery patches that are glossy… treat with an insecticide – again Neem is good.

Leaves have dark patches caused by fungus… Removed affected leaves spray with an approved fungicide like captan.

Plant not growing well. Often caused by high temperatures, dry air, and insufficient lighting.

Leaves turning black, unusually in winter this is caused by over-watering.

Question: My English ivy, both indoors and outside, has small webs on the leaf undersides and leaves are yellowing. The overall appearance of the foliage color is not the normal dark green leaf but have a dusty appearance and some of the leaves are flecked with yellowish spots. Pinpoints of black dots on the surfaces of the leaves. What is the trouble and how can it be treated?

Answer: It sounds like red spider mites have infested your ivies – this can be the most destructive pest on ivies. Try washing leaves top and undersides along with the stems, increase humidity. Spray with neem or insecticidal soap.

Particularly indoors ivy needs a cool, moist place in which to grow. In temperatures above 72° degrees Fahrenheit in a dry atmosphere, it is almost impossible to keep red spiders off of English ivy.

NOTE: Always read and use only pesticides with labeled directions for home and garden use. Always read and follow label directions.

Question: A number of leaves have turned yellow and fallen from my English ivy and the new shoots turn black and dry up before they can make any growth. There do not appear to be insects on it. I have always sprayed it with a strong force of water once a week since I received it two years ago. It gets enough light with occasional sun. Could you diagnose the trouble? VB, Illinois.

Answer: The trouble with your ivy may be high temperature coupled with dry air. Temperatures above 70° degrees Fahrenheit with dry air cause ivy leaves to lose vitality. Then too, keeping the roots wet without adequate drainage causes the soil to sour.

The roots rot as a result and as the root system ceases to function the leaves yellow, new growth blackens, leaf spots become more frequent and eventually the entire plant dies.

If when the plant is watered all free water drains away, if the soil is kept moist but not sopping wet, and if the temperature is moderate, the small ivy plant is almost indestructible.

You also like the Chestnut Vine (aka Tetrastigma Voinierianum) and this selected group of 35+ common houseplants.

Growing English Ivy Hedera Helix

English ivy Hedera helix is one of the most creative plants in nature!

From the Araliaceae family along with Schefflera (dwarf umbrella plant) and Aralia (think the Ming plant), most varieties are evergreen climbers, can easily grow indoors and out.

The English ivy has several look-alikes:

  • Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica)
  • Persian ivy (Hedera colchica)
  • Boston ivy (Parthenocissus japonicus)
  • Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) sometimes confused because of its hairy stems.

The European colonists introduced English ivy as early as 1727.

However, today many consider the English Ivy Hedera helix a serious weed and invasive species. Outdoors this climbing plant needs some type of control.

Learn more on – How to Kill English Ivy

Outside, the ivy finds use as a ground cover but they also can climb up trees or grow up against the brick wall of a house.

They grow well in bright light and partial shade. The general recommendation is to NOT PLANT the ivy outdoors. It’s better suited for potted container growing.

Indoors, they can grow into beautiful tabletop house plants, grown in hanging baskets or trained on small trellises.

Ever since it burst into various mutations in the 1920’s, when the first self-branching forms were noticed, ivy has amazed us with the many unusual, countless forms it can assume.

The plant can even be grown to create a stunning decorative accent, yet in any size it is most attractive as a pot plant.

It’s possible to grow specimens 10 feet high in 14-inch tubs.

It is a great deal of fun to grow vigorous ivy plants and it can be done with a minimum of time and effort.

They are a joy to study as there is such a diversity of foliage forms.

Plants & Flowers

Common name: Common Ivy, English Ivy, Hedera Helix, Ivy, Vine

Family: Araliaceae

Synonym: Hedera acuta
Hedera arborea
Hedera baccifera
Hedera grandifolia
Hedera poetica Salisb.
Hedera poetarum Bertol.

Hedera helix

Distribution and habitat: Hedera helix is a species of ivy native to most of Europe and western Asia. It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced.
It is an evergreen climbing plant, growing high where suitable surfaces (trees, cliffs, walls) are available, and also growing as ground cover where there are no vertical surfaces. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets with matted pads which cling strongly to the substrate.
The leaves are alternate and have petiole; they are of two types, with palmately five-lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems, and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces. The flowers are produced from late summer until late autumn, individually small, in umbels, greenish-yellow, and very rich in nectar, an important late autumn food source for bees and other insects.
The fruit are purple-black to orange-yellow berries, ripening in late winter and are an important food for many birds, though somewhat poisonous to humans.

Description: Hedera helix has typically ivy-shaped leaves with tree to five lobes of which the one at the apex is the longest and most pointed. The original species has been superseded by its many varieties. Most of the following plants are self branching (each stem tend to branch naturally at frequent intervals) and this makes the plants dense and rather bushy.

Houseplant care: Winter growth of English Ivy plants tends to be very long without bearing many leaves. Trim areas like this with lots of woody growth but few leaves. For the plant to fill out properly during growth cut the stems down to strong growth areas.
Light: Native to light woodland areas, Hedera helix as houseplant thrive in an environment of bright filtered to low light. Ample light helps the leaves become more colorful but filter the light to prevent excessive heat which can lead to drying and poor performance.

Temperature: Hedera helix plants are not greatly affected by hot and cold temperature, but fluctuating temperatures can stifle performance dramatically. Keep Hedera helix in an atmosphere with a consistent temperature and away from drafts, open doors, or vents. In temperatures above 18oC (64oF) provide extra humidity.
During the winter months encourage them to take a short rest by keeping them cool. A temperature of 10oC (50oF) is ideal.

Water: Hedera helix plants prefer an evenly moist environment. Water the plants freely during growth. Keep Hedera helix houseplants moist in the winter. Spraying Hedera helix with soft water weekly will help prevent spider mites from infesting the plants.

Fertilising: Hedera helix care requires the monthly application of liquid fertilizer or, another option often preferred, is to apply a quarter strength fertilizer when watering.

Potting and repoting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Overcrowded plants can be repotted during any season. Move the plant in a pot one size larger whatever pale roots emerge through drainage holes. Maximum pot size should be 12-15cm (5-6 inch). Top dress annually those plants that are not being moved on. For best effect put four or six small plants in a single basket.

Propagation: Root cuttings are the preferred method of propagation. Root the 10-15cm (4-6 inch) cuttings of young (not matured) growth during the spring to autumn. More mature cuttings (adult growth) of 18-23cm (7-9 inches) will produce a bushy “tree-ivy” type of growth but root very slowly if at all.

Problems: Plant care and maintenance helps reduce these problems.

Common pests affecting Hedera helix are spider mites, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. Red spider mites are often difficult to see without a close inspection. However, white webs formed on the plant are usually indicative of a spider mite infestation.
Treatment: Remove the infested leaves and treat the plant with a pesticide or insecticidal soap.

Typical pathogen (fungal and bacterial) problems affecting English Ivy houseplants are bacterial spot, stem rot and fungal leaf spots.
Treatment: Apply fungicides and repeat the treatment as mentioned on fungicide instructions.

Recommended varieties: There are several different species of the Hedera helix that have different leaf shape, size and color.

Hedera helix ‘Chicago‘ has 2-3 cm (0.7-1.2 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, medium greenleaves. The lives of one of its forms, Hedera helix ‘Chicago Variegata’ are creamy-edged. Those of another Hedera helix ‘Golden Chicago’ are marked with golden yellow patches.

Hedera helix ‘Emerald Gem’ and Hedera helix ‘Emerald Jewel’ both have 2cm (0.7 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, sharply pointed, emerald green leaves.

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ has 3cm (1.2 inch) long and 2cm (0.7 inch) wide leaves which are medium green with grey-green blotches, white marginal patches and pink edges. For dense growth this plant needs pinching out two or three times a year.

Hedera helix ‘Jubilee‘ has 2cm long and 1.5-2cm (0.5-0.7 inch) wide dark green leaves variegated with grey and white. This variety is notably dense.

Hedera helix ‘Little Diamond’ has roughly diamond shaped, 2cm (0.7 inch) long and 1.5cm (0.5 inch) wide, medium green leaves thinly bordered with white. It needs pinching out to become bushy.

Hedera helix ‘Lutzii’ has 3cm (1.2 inch) long and 2 cm (0.7 inch) wide, dark green leaves covered with pale green and yellow spots. Not self-branching it needs pinching out two or three times a year.

Hedera helix ‘Sagittifolia’ has arrow-head-shaped, 4cm (1.5 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, dark green leaves. A variegated form, Hedera helix ‘Sagittifolia Variegata’ has light green and pale yellow markings. These plants make an excellent trailers, but growing points must be pinched out if bushy growth is desired.

Uses: Hedera helix is a popular ornamental, valued for its ability to thrive in shady places, provide excellent groundcover and cover unsightly walls, sheds and tree stumps. The evergreen, woody-stemmed plants are often seen trailing across yards and gardens, climbing walls, or encouraged as climbers along a supporting pole inside homes for a beautiful and decorative houseplant accent. Very easy to grow, ivy makes a very attractive hanging plant. Although the specimen above looks leggy, ivy can be very bushy if planted in mass.

Hedera helix is frequently used in cut flower arrangements, particularly in winter displays. The glossy, cream, ivory-like heartwood is sometimes used in flower arrangements.

Hedera helix is an ideal houseplant for people who have pets. Scientifically termed as Hedera Helix, this plant is known to filter indoor pollutants like fecal particles, formaldehyde aerosols and much more and keep the house toxin free.
It’s known for removing the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, detergents, pesticides, and the off-gasing of other synthetic materials, is said to be fantastic for asthma and allergies and also removes formaldehyde. Hedera helix is particularly effective against benzene found in oil-based paints, detergents and plastic material.


Foliage – green / variegated
Shape – climbing & trailing

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 24oC (60-75oF)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 5a-9b

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