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.

ivy house plant growing

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 ivy house plant

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.

ivy house plant flowers

  • 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.