English Ivy Care: Growing The English Ivy Houseplant

English ivy variegated

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

English ivy (Hedera helix) is probably one of the most durable of all house plants, 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.

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

For soil, use a potting media designed for houseplants will work fine. An English ivy plant can be an active grower and can require frequent repotting.

Propagation – Simple and Easy

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

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

ivy topiary

The first way to propagation an ivy indoors is by layering.

For starters, select 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 be easily propagated 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 good light but not direct light. In a few weeks, roots will form and the cuttings can be replanted in a new container.

English Ivy Indoor Pests and Problems

Attacks of pests and diseases are very infrequent.

Indoors scale and aphids can be a problem attacking new growth and hiding under leaves. This can produce leaves which 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 is a dusty and some of the leaves are flecked with yellowish spots. Pin points 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 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 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, 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 English ivy is almost indestructible.

different cultivars

The Plant

Hedera helix or English ivy is one of the most creative plants in nature! Most varieties are evergreen climbers, can easily grow indoors and out.

Outside, they can climb up trees or grow up against the brick wall of a house.

Indoors, they can grow into beautiful tabletop 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.

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