English ivy is originally used as ground cover in the landscapes. As a trailing vine, it has the tendency to get invasive. In its natural habitat, trees and shrubs where English ivy crawls up may die.
However, English ivy got a new home when it’s been cultivated indoors because it perfectly fits as a hanging ornament or as a natural cover for your walls. If you choose to have English ivy at home, be prepared though. You have to keep your eye on this one because they grow fast and can get quite dense.
|Scientific Name||Hedera helix|
|AKA||English Ivy, Ivy, Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy|
|Similar to||Big-leaved wintercreeper|
|Native to||Europe and parts of Asia|
|Maximum size||Up to 90 feet when climbing
Up to 6 – 9 inches when on ground
|Light requirements||Fulls shade – juvenile stage
Full sun – mature stage
|Preferred temperature||65 to 85 F (18 to 29 C)|
|Soil||Well-drained, peat-based potting medium with high water holding capacity|
|Fertilizer||Monthly application of houseplant fertilizer during active growth|
|Propagation method||Seeds, vine cuttings|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats and dogs|
|Vulnerable to||Mealybugs, mites, aphids, whiteflies, and scales|
Naturally thriving as a vine, English ivy is evergreen foliage that creeps over the ground and trails upward a tree, a shrub, or any trellis. There are many species of true ivy around but the most popular is English ivy (Hedera helix). It belongs to the Araliaceae family and is native to Europe and other parts of Asia.
English ivy has its own growing requirements but it is very adaptable to poor conditions. It’s generally a sturdy plant, one that’s difficult to get rid of once it’s there. You don’t have to worry though because you can learn how to tame the plant by reading these tips below.
Looking for more indoor plants? Check out our list of common house plants.
English ivy requires thorough watering but there’s no need to do it every day. You’d have to wait a few days until the soil is almost dry before you water it again. Allowing excess water to sit in the pot will lead to root rot.
Deep watering can be done by pouring water directly on the soil and letting it flow until it drains out of the hole. Water all around inside the pot and make sure that the soil is uniformly wet. It’s best to use a watering container with long, narrow snout to avoid soaking the plant’s foliage.
English ivy will have different light requirements depending on which growing stage it’s in. During its juvenile stage, it prefers a shady environment while it needs full sun in its mature stage. Nevertheless, it can adjust to varying light conditions.
The reason behind its adaptability to a wide range of light exposure is its capacity to adjust its photosynthetic activity. With enough light sources, their leaves photosynthesize at a higher rate. On the other hand, this photosynthetic activity decreases with a low light level.
In an indoor setting, English ivy can survive well with just artificial light. Just maintain a distance of around 6 to 10 inches between the plant and the light source. If you have a north or east-facing window, that would be the best spot for this trailing vine.
Generally, indoor moderate humidity is acceptable to grow ivies. High humidity will create a favorable environment for pathogens to grow. This can lead to problems such as root rot and bacterial leaf spot.
During times of low humidity, you can turn on a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Alternatively, you can provide a tray with pebbles soaked in water for your ivies to sit on. Just place the pots on top of the pebbles without letting it touch the water.
Plant Food and Soil
Your English ivy would require a well-drained, peat-based potting medium with high water holding capacity. A well-draining soil helps water flow out of the pot in an easy manner. The high water holding capacity helps the soil hold more water to be used for longer periods.
Fertilizing your ivies should be done during the stage of active growth as with other houseplants. No fertilizer should be added during winter when the plant is resting. Use a houseplant fertilizer that is high in nitrogen content to encourage green foliage.
Ivies should be pruned as often as possible in order to regulate their growth. They have the tendency to get out of hand if left untrimmed for a long time. You can cut the trailing vine according to your desired length or you can cut it back from the base.
You may also prune English ivy according to your desired shape. Other plant owners use various frames and trellis to train their ivies to crawl and mold various forms. You can be as creative as you can get with this vine.
Just remember to use shears or scissors when you cut them. The sap of this plant can possibly irritate your skin. Be cautious and protect your hands with gloves.
You can repot your English ivies yearly or whenever you find it necessary. There are certain indications that will serve as your go signal for repotting. It includes immensely dense foliage, the formation of root ball, or when the soil looks degraded.
Carefully remove the plant out of the pot. Loosen the soil and trim off some roots below as much as you trim the shoots above. Put a little amount of soil in a larger pot and place the ivy there then continue to fill in spaces with moist soil.
Make sure to thoroughly water the newly repotted ivy. It’s crucial to keep the soil moist as the plant had been through a stressful condition.
English ivies can be propagated using seeds or vine cuttings. In its natural environment, birds do propagate the seeds through their excretions. However, when you cultivate ivies at home, the best method would be to use vine cuttings.
As you trim the plant, choose the good stems and cut them to a length of 4 to 5 inches.
Submerge the lower portion to water and let it stay there until roots develop. You can then plant the cuttings with roots to new pots.
The common pests you’ll encounter with English ivies include mealybugs, mites, aphids, whiteflies, and scales. Most of them can be managed through spray washing. You can use pressurized water to get rid of these tiny insects.
You can also use DIY solutions such as diluted detergent or insecticidal soap. Spray them on the affected areas early in the morning until they’re nowhere to see. Make sure to remove and properly discard plant portions that have been severely infected by these pests.
Keeping English ivy inside your home should be taken with enough caution. Not only does it have invasive tendencies, but it’s also toxic to cats and dogs when ingested. Both leaves and berries are toxic but the leaves are more dangerous.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), English ivy contains Triterpenoid saponins (hederagenin). This compound can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea.
Why is my English ivy wilting?
The most probable reason for this is root rot. If you’ve given too much water, two things can happen. The plant will be in contact with water for that long that the cells will burst and die. Or, excess water creates a moist environment that leads to fungal problems.
Either way, the outward implication to the plant includes wilting because the roots below could no longer support the life above it. In this case, you have to limit water application or repot the entire plant to avoid further rotting.
How often should I trim my English ivy?
More often is the answer. You should be faithful to cutting off the trailing portions because they grow rapidly. If you let it free, the vines could crawl up anywhere it wants and we don’t want that to happen.
Remember that ivies are invasive. If you manage to trim it off only to the desired size, then you won’t have a problem.
Is English ivy toxic to cats and dogs?
Yes, it is. So, you better keep them out of reach. Pets who would ingest the leaves or the berries will experience vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea. Make sure to call the vet when this happens.
English ivies do make a good houseplant because you can present it in many ways. You can have it hanged in a basket, trained in trellis, hanged as wall cover, or even raised in pots. However, its flexibility in its aesthetic form should be coupled with your vigorous energy to attend to the plant.
Most of the growing conditions are attainable at home so there’s no need for you to make several adjustments. Perhaps, the most challenging part is keeping it where it should be. English ivies can be a little aggressive as it’s a natural climber.