If you’re after a houseplant that is easy to care for, ivy is a fantastic option. Ivy plant care is generally very straightforward, and it’s a hardy plant that can thrive indoors with the correct conditions. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about ivy plant care to ensure yours does very well. We’ll go over everything from feeding and watering to diseases and pests to ensure that your plant has the best shot possible. In turn, you’ll be able to use this ivy plant care guide to keep all of your ivy looking lush, beautiful, and healthy.
Part of the reason why so many people choose this plant is due to the fact that ivy plant care is very easy and straightforward.
Why Ivy is a Popular Indoor Plant
Ivy is a very popular indoor plant because it’s extremely versatile. You can grow it in a hanging basket or pot, and it doesn’t need a lot of bright, direct sunlight to do well. Ivy plants are very beautiful, and they’re also great for beginners. If you want to add an ivy plant to your houseplant lineup, you want to pick out a type first. Even though most ivy plant care is the same, some do require special things to be happy.
Common Ivy Varieties
Even though there are dozens of different ivy plants available, many of them follow the same care routine. Some do have different ivy plant care requirements though, including:
- Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis) – This is an evergreen, fast-growing vine that produces dark green, glossy leaves. It’s native to the Canary Islands, and many people choose to grow it as an ornamental plant in containers or gardens. It’s relatively easy to take care of, and it can do well in a range of environments.
- English Ivy (Hedera helix) – This popular ivy type usually gets used in landscaping or grown as a container houseplant. It has glossy, dark green leaves, and it can easily get up to 50 feet long if you don’t control it.
- Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica) – This ivy variety is native to parts of Europe and Ireland. It’s a very pretty and fast-growing vine that works well as an indoor plant.
- Nepal Ivy (Hedera nepalensis) – This is another common indoor ivy variety. It has heart-shaped, large leaves that are a very dark green color.
- Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica) – Many people choose to grow this ivy as an eye-catching houseplant. It has leathery, large leaves that have deep lobes and come in several colors, including yellow, green, and variegated.
- Russian Ivy (Hedera pastuchovii) – The final ivy type of the list thrives indoors. It offers oval-shaped, small leaves that are very dark green.
If you’re ready to know more about general ivy plant care now that you’ve settled on a type or two of ivy plants, read on.
Ivy plants do phenomenally outside or inside, as long as you live in the correct planting zone for them to thrive.
Ivy Plant Growing Conditions
To get happy and healthy plants, you have to set up the ideal growing conditions. Luckily, ivy plant care is less precise than other plants as this is a very hardy and forgiving plant that can bounce back from neglect and minor mistakes well.
Some people choose to “feed” their houseplants a small amount of liquid fertilizer every now and then, a few times a year, to keep up the growth. While this can help with slower-growing plants, ivy is a very aggressive grower, and the good news is, you don’t really have to fertilize it to get excellent results.
If you do want to add fertilizer as part of your ivy plant care, you can do so in the early spring months to give it a wake up call for summer. However, most of the time, even once a year is overkill. A weak liquid fertilizer or a time-release fertilizer can get spritzed on your common ivy if it’s struggling to grow. If your ivy has had a lot of heat exposure, is showing signs of stress, or it didn’t get enough water, it’s a good idea to toss a little fertilizer into the plant to get it growing.
Generally speaking, most ivy types are going to want a small amount of medium light over anything else. It will do extremely well in bright light as long as the temperatures don’t get up to higher levels. If you can create low lighting conditions for your ivy plant care, it’ll still do very well. You’ll see a lot slower growth rate with more washed out green coloring though.
However, long term low-light exposure will poison your plant. This is why you want to make sure that you’re periodically moving it to spaces that are filled with bright but indirect light every now and again if it’s going to do well tucked into a dimmer room in your home for the majority of the year.
Also, if the ivy you pick out has white variegation on the leaves, you want to get it out of the direct sunlight while making sure it still gets a decent amount of ambient light. Giving your plant too much direct sunlight will end up washing out the vibrant colors, and the leaves will turn a brown or yellow, and it can burn the plant too.
The soil is a big part of your ivy plant care, and it’s going to be the happiest when you put it in a very fertile soil that has a high amount of drainage. Ideally, your soil can hold a small amount of moisture and have a very dense nutrient content. It’s a good idea to choose a loose potting soil that has some rock mixed into the makeup to help increase the overall drainage properties and make sure that there isn’t a huge amount of compaction each time you give your plants a drink.
Also, keep the soil moist if at all possible. The goal is to make sure that the humidity levels around the vines are higher than the rest of the house. If you’re going to have higher temperatures indoors, it’s a good idea that you take steps to protect the root system and soil by adding a mulch layer. This is the same way that you’d protect sensitive houseplants by making sure that the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly between watering sessions.
Temperature and Humidity
Ivy will do well in a range of temperatures, and the fact that it grows virtually everywhere on the planet within reason shows this fact. However, ivy plant care means getting the temperature on the cooler side for the majority of the year if you can. If the indoor temperatures stay between 50°F and 75°F all year-round, it won’t be too hard to keep your ivy plant healthy and thriving. If it gets colder than that, the ivy plant will slowly go dormant and stop growing. If it gets hotter, the ivy will start to struggle to survive, slow down, and eventually die a lot quicker. This is especially true if you mix higher temperatures with more direct sunlight.
However, like every other type of ivy available, you can easily find a cultivar in this family that does very well when the humidity levels are on the higher side all year-round. Ivy doesn’t like super moist soil, but it’ll do very well when the moisture levels in the air around the plant are more saturated. A fast way to boost the humidity around the plant is to add a couple pebbles to a saucer and fill the saucer with water. Put your saucer right next to your ivy plant and watch the localized humidity levels skyrocket while avoiding making the whole space uncomfortable.
It’s relatively easy to mimic this plant’s preferred growing conditions, especially when you boost the relative humidity right around the plant.
For ivy plant care, you want to pay close attention to watering. The last thing you want to do when you’re trying to water them is to let the soil get brittle and dry, but you don’t want to saturate the soil either. It’s a very delicate balancing act. The goal is to make sure that your soil stays nicely damp without any water pooling. Also, try to get on a watering schedule that keeps this balance as much as you can. Bottled water is also nice to use for your plants as it comes packed with nutrients.
If you’re able to find the perfect balance of water throughout the hotter summer months, your ivy may give you a stunning show of orange and red foliage in the autumn months that it won’t produce if the plant isn’t healthy. When it comes to watering things, you’ll want to focus on the humidity levels near the leaves and vines. The soil needs to stay damp and moist, but adding localized humidity will go a long way with your ivy plant care.
Pests and Diseases
When you’re growing ivy indoors, diseases and pests are something that commonly happens. The most common pests are aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. You can control the pests by spraying neem oil or insecticidal soap on a regular basis. Diseases like root rot or powdery mildew also plague ivy when you don’t follow regular ivy plant care guidelines. You should use a fungicide to treat powdery mildew, and ensuring your plant has good drainage will ward off root rot.
Potting and Repotting Ivy
As far as the repotting process, you should only ever have to repot smaller ivy plants into fresh soil every year or every two years. This isn’t a huge project that you have to go crazy with either. However, if you have a bigger ivy plant that you notice is lagging and you’re not sure why, you can bring it back by planting it with fresh soil and a small amount of fertilizer.
It won’t take a huge amount of time for your ivy plants to establish themselves into the new container and start growing. You do want to keep a close eye on the vines after you repot them for the first two weeks. This will help you stay in front of any aggressive growth that you cut back to curtail.
Ivy looks lovely draping down from a hanging basket or set on the edge of the table and allowed to spill down toward the floor.
Propagating Ivy Plants
It’s not hard to propagate common ivy plants, even if you’re a beginner with little to no experience doing this with other types of plants due to the fact how resilient and aggressive ivy is in a general sense. For starters, ivy plants adore getting trimmed on a regular basis to keep things healthy, fresh, and keep the plant growing.
Also, any trimmings you get don’t need a lot of care to turn into their own plant. All you have to do is take five to six-inch long cuttings from the main plant and place them in some water. After a few days, a small root system will be established. Once the root system establishes, you can move the cuttings over into a pot filled with loose soil and leave it for a few days. Between 7 to 10 days later, you’ll see the vines establish themselves, root, and start growing very quickly.
Pruning Ivy Plants
You should use sharp and clean cutting shears to trim your ivy back in the spring months to keep them manageable and ward away bacterial leaf spot. You can prune your ivy into a bushy shape by pinching away growing tips during the spring as part of your annual ivy plant care. A hard pruning session every two or three years will help encourage vigorous growth. If the ivy is starting to climb things, you should be careful if you want to remove it. You should never rip it off because you can damage whatever it’s growing on. Instead, you should cut each vine where it comes out of the soil and begins to climb. When you cut it here, the climbing portion will eventually wither and die.
This is the best way to get rid of an out of control ivy plant organically, but it does require patience on your part. You’ll have to go back again and again to cut new growth until you sap all of the strength out of the plant and it stops producing new shoots.
Ivy Plant Care – Frequently Asked Questions
Even though the ivy plant is relatively low-maintenance and beginner-friendly, many people have a few common questions about it. We’ve rounded them up and answered them for you below.
1. How often should you water your indoor ivy?
During the spring and summer (active growing season), you want to water your plant roughly once a week or when you touch the soil and it feels dry. Let the water soak into the soil until it reaches the roots before emptying out any excess water that ends up in the saucer of the pot. Reduce your watering to every other week as needed.
2. What does ivy look like when you overwater it?
One of the biggest problems people run into with ivy plant care is overwatering. Ivy plants are extremely sensitive to too much water, and it can cause the leaves to get dry and turn brown. If you’re worrying about overwatering your plant, check the soil to see how moist it is before you water. If the soil is moist to the touch, you won’t need to water it more. To help the plant recover from overwatering it, only water when the soil dries out. You can also add organic matter to the soil to improve the drainage, like moss or compost.
2. Should you trim your ivy?
Yes, you want to trim the ivy plant regularly to keep them healthy and encourage new growth. When you trim your plant, make sure you use a sharp knife or sharp shears to get a clean cut. You should also remove any damaged or dead stems. How often you have to trim it depends on how quickly it grows.
3. How much sun do ivy plants need?
Part of good ivy plant care is figuring out the best growing conditions, and this means indirect but bright sunlight. They can tolerate very little direct sun. However, once the leaves start to turn yellow, your plant is most likely getting too much sun and you want to move it to a shaded area. They do well in low light too, as long as you periodically move them to a space with more sun a few times a year.
4. Will the common ivy produce flowers?
You won’t see a lot of flowers when you grow and get a healthy common ivy. However, it offers a wonderful show during the fall months when the temperatures start to drop and cool off. At this point, the vines will turn an eye-catching orangish-red shade with gold tints that are very pretty. A lot of people grow the common ivy to see this show each year for a month or two, and it’s easy to see why.
5. How well will your ivy do indoors?
Ivy won’t have a hard time growing inside, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you see how well it grows outside in the wild. We’ve mentioned a few times that your ivy plant will go crazy and grow aggressively with the right ivy plant care, and it can even take over spaces like mint will when it’s slightly shaded from direct sunlight.
Indoors, you get much more control over the watering schedule, soil, humidity levels, temperature, and how much competition your plant has for nutrients with otter plants. So, you can easily control the growth too.
6. Are ivy plants dangerous?
In a traditional sense, it’s hard to imagine how any houseplant can be dangerous. However, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of the popular houseplants have potential health risks while you take all of the steps to ensuring good ivy plant care to keep them happy and thriving. Common ivy isn’t nearly as toxic or dangerous as other types of houseplants, but eating the vines or leaves of the English Ivy plant can easily lead to a severe case of abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting.
You do want to make a point to keep your pets away from any ivy you grow in the house too. Their stomachs don’t come designed to digest this plant, and you could end up with an expensive emergency vet visit if they eat it when you’re not watching them.
7. Where can you find ivy growing outside?
Over the past few decades, ivy plants have been exported to virtually every corner of the world that can support this plant’s growth habits, and it has a natural range that spans from the United States on the West Coast into Europe, Iran, and well into the northern parts of Turkey.
It’s highly aggressive when it comes to growth, and it’s always looking for ways to expand further. This plant will grow by leaps and bounds in very short periods, and it typically uses smaller trees as framework before it chokes the plants off and steals any of the nutrients that the plants would have used themselves.
It doesn’t take a lot of time for a dense ivy framework to establish itself. When this happens, the natural habitat can die quickly. Large swaths of ivy plants can grow quickly and choke out anything that was growing there. This is why Oregon and Washington have outlawed growing wild ivy.
This ivy plant care guide gave you a quick rundown on how you can keep your ivy plants thriving indoors, no matter which type you choose. You can use it to troubleshoot potential problems if you notice that your ivy is struggling, and find the perfect balance to get a healthy, happy, and thriving plant.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.