English Ivy Plant Care (Hedera helix)

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Anyone who has ever admired English ivy (Hedera helix) knows what a versatile and beautiful plant it is. English Ivy Plant Care need not be difficult. And proper care rewards you with plenty of lush green leaves.

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This houseplant is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but there are a few things you should know in order to keep your ivy looking its best. This post will provide some tips on how to care for your English ivy so you can enjoy its glossy leaves and delicate vines for years to come. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the care requirements for English ivy, as well as some common problems that can occur. We’ll also provide tips on how to prevent these problems from happening. Keep reading to learn more!

English Ivy Plant Care, consider its history (back to its roots!)

English Ivy Plant Care needs to be examined from its native beginnings. Native to Europe, it was brought to America by early settlers But the English Ivy easily established itself in the wild due to its highly adaptable nature. And that enabled the plant to become quite popular.

english ivy plant care
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English Ivy climbs walls

English ivy (Hedera helix) grows easily as a ground cover. However, most know it best for the way it climbs stone or brick walls. This woody evergreen vine gave the term Ivy League colleges its name for its ability to climb the beautiful architectural outer walls of the prestigious universities.

However, this distinguished plant also makes a beautiful houseplant. Displayed in a hanging basket or even on a raised post, the English Ivy trails its vigorous vines. In fact, these vines easily train to crawl along a wall or other indoor area. In this way, the English Ivy plant provides an accent of greenery. Use them in a sunroom, patio, or even a living room.

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In areas where grass cannot easily grow, the English Ivy proves quite useful as a dense ground cover. In fact, growth continues as much as 100 feet outward when allowed to continue. As a ground cover, it stays about 6 inches tall, making it ideal for such uses.

However, it also climbs fences, stone walls, brick exteriors, and nearly any structure with ease. The same 100 feet of growth extends in any direction, offering a striking display.

How to Grow English Ivy

Although English Ivy is prized for its hardiness, the same trait proves troublesome in some areas. In fact, some areas of the Pacific Northwest consider this plant an invasive weed as it easily chokes out native species. When planting outside, consider this and plan to maintain it properly.

However, as a houseplant, English Ivy proves a little more temperamental. It doesn’t react well to the hot, dry air of indoor heat. But it also dislikes air conditioning. Still, the plant’s popularity continues to rise because of its beautiful display. Indoor topiaries, climbing plants, and trailing plants gracefully adorn the inside of many homes.

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To ensure success with the English Ivy as a houseplant, consider its needs.

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English Ivy

Provide moist, humid conditions for the Ivy, similar to that of a fern. Each week, but especially during the winter, mist your ivy frequently. Also, this plant favors cool nights during any season.

While it might enjoy some support for it to climb, the Ivy has aerial roots that cling. If you don’t want it to grab onto an area of your home, keep this in mind. You may decide to move the plant elsewhere, or at least train the vine in a different direction.

Light

The English Ivy likes bright light year-round. However, avoid direct sunlight in summer.  In winter, plants accept a little more direct sunlight. For this consider placing in a south-facing window.

 

Soil

Fertile, moist, but well-drained soil is ideal for both indoor and outdoor Ivy plants.  In fact, the English ivy likes a loose, well-drained potting mix. Packed and heavy soils choke or drown the roots. If needed, add sand or small gravel to the mix to keep it draining easily.

 

Water

Potted ivy plants prefer moist, humid conditions. But they don’t want their roots soaking. Also, keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid letting it dry out completely. Proper watering will encourage that beautiful color change from Ivy green to attractive red foliage in the fall. This plant rewards proper care with stunning visuals.

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Temperature and Humidity

When maintained outdoors, English ivy does best in moderate conditions. Protect it from both harsh winter winds and excessive heat of summer. Keep in mind that very humid conditions can encourage root rot and bacterial leaf spot.

Ivies living indoors prefer cooler nights, often below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Many species overwinter outside in pots and will grow back from their stems. During hot summer days, mist them frequently to keep them happy.

 

Fertilizer

This vigorous plant requires only a  little feeding.  During the growing season, feed with controlled-release fertilizer or biweekly with weak liquid fertilizer. Over-fertilizing proves more harmful than not providing enough fertilizer.

 

English Ivy Plant Care
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Repotting

Ivy plants grow vigorously. Therefore, repot small ivy plants into fresh potting soil every year. Older plants may need repotting every year or every other year.  Even if the plant does not need a larger pot, consider repotting with fresh soil into the same pot. Often, this helps refresh and rejuvenate a plant that seems old and tired.

 

Propagating English Ivy

As a trailing plant, English Ivy plant care includes occasionally trimming them. In fact, this offers you the perfect opportunity to propagate a few new plants. Take cuttings that are 4-5 inches long and place in water. Allow them to remain until they have a good network of root hairs develop. Then they are ready to plant in potting soil and care for as young plants.

Alternatively, you might take the cuttings and plant them directly in the potting mix. Often, English Ivy will self-root this way. You can then carefully dig up the small plants and repot where you want them to grow.

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Varieties of English Ivy

The vast majority of ivies seen in garden centers are so-called true ivy, from the genus Hedera. There are actually 15 species of Hedera, but H. helix is the star as far as cultivated plants are concerned. Plant enthusiasts have extensively hybridized them into a number of interesting leaf patterns and shapes. However, the growth requirements for all Hedera ivies are similar.

 

Pruning

To keep an ivy compact and bushy, pinch off the growing tips. This causes it to spread in other directions. Vigorously cut back plants every three or four years to rejuvenate the growth. When planted as spreading ground cover, ivy can be trimmed by cutting away the edges with a spade.

 

Common Pests/ Diseases

Aphids and spider mites often present problems for the English Ivy plant, even when kept indoors. Use appropriate natural sprays or dust to treat whenever you find signs of them.

However, the most serious diseases include Xanthomonas (bacterial leaf spot) and Rhizoctonia root rot. Bacterial leaf spot is identified by brown or black spots on the leaves, and severe cases cause stems to become twisted and distorted. Affected plants should be removed and destroyed. Spray remaining plants with a solution of 1 part vinegar mixed with 10 parts water.

Common in warm, humid environments, root rot eventually causes the plants to wilt and die. Diseased plants will need to be discarded, and the remaining plants should be treated with a proper fungicide.

With proper care, your English Ivy plant provides a beautiful accent to your home and patio areas for many years. During its long lifetime, it proves quite useful, too!

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Why should I keep English Ivy in my home?

As you consider English Ivy plant care, also consider the care it provides to you. Yes, that’s right. Your Ivy plant helps you, too.

The English Ivy is prized for it’s beauty. But many cultures treasure it for the health benefits.

As noted in Healthline,

Research shows that ivy can help relax the airways and reduce coughs. This is especially helpful for people with:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • COPD

The saponin components in ivy leaf extracts can make breathing easier by:

  • loosening up mucus so it clears out faster
  • increasing production and secretion liquid film for oxygen exchange
  • making airway muscles relax

 

 

According to a study shown at: .ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725580, ivy extract may be effective as a means of improving lung function in children with chronic bronchial asthma. Healthline lists the suggested dosage for children and adults on their site. They also state that:

You can

  • eat it as an herb, fresh leaves, or make into a tea
  • make it into a wash for cleaning wounds or mold from the drain
  • apply it topically as a diluted essential oil for the skin

The anti-inflammatory effects of ivy leaves can help with allergies by blocking histamines. Your body releases histamines in response to allergens.

 

English Ivy for Arthritis and Inflammation


Healthline states:
English ivy extract may be beneficial for people with arthritis and inflammation. Inflammation may speed cancer. One study involving mice found that English ivy extract may be a useful treatment for arthritis. Inflammation, paw, and joint swelling steadily decreased over seven days of treatment. This suggests that English ivy may be a potential cost-effective treatment for inflammation and arthritis. More research and human trials are needed to confirm this treatment suggestion.



***IMPORTANT NOTE***

Although Healthline and other sites and studies show the medicinal benefits of English Ivy, they also state that the plant is mildly toxic to people and animals. CAUTION should be taken when handling it or using it medicinally. Always ask your health professional for advice!

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Air Purifying and mold reduction

One of the top 10 air-purifying plants, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), English Ivy has been proven to remove many toxins from homes including

  • benzene
  • formaldehyde
  • xylene
  • toulene

 

One study also found that English Ivy could reduce particles of fecal matter and mold. Research showed that the amount of fecal matter dropped by more than 94 percent in 12 hours. Mold went down by 78.5 percent.

Of course, one small English Ivy plant probably won’t completely purify your home. But, with the potential health benefits, especially that of air-purifying, you might consider adding the beautiful English Ivy to your home.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Shyla Elza

    What an interesting house plant choice. I have never considered owning an English Ivy plant, but this post made me think twice. I have been considering owning a houseplant, but have not yet been able to choose one. I would love to give indoor plant care a try. This post really has made me start to consider even more options including the English Ivy Plant. I was going to order an indoor blueberry plant from a catalog recently. I am hoping to find the perfect plant to care for soon. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Yes, the indoor blueberry plant is also a good choice. I have other posts that describe edible plants. One is: https://houseplantjoy.com/hous

      The English Ivy is quite a beautiful plant and easy to care for. You might enjoy it, as well.

      Thanks for reading- please stop by again soon!

      Reply
  2. Antonio

    Hi 

    Growing English Ivy in the home is not so easy to do because of it liking to drop leaves, od the growing conditions are not made. It is a great leaf plant, especially the variegated  form but it does have a habit of growing to excessive lengths, especially  if it is not looking after right. I personally think that Ivy does better outdoors, where you can see it scrambling over buildings or walls. One of my personal favourite is x Fatshedera, a cross between  Fatsia and Hedera, as it is a less fussy plant.

    Do you have any tips for growing x Fatshedera?

    Thanks

    Antonio

    Reply
    • Diane

      I actually have an article on x Fatshedera, also known as the Ivy Tree, coming out soon. As you probably know, it’s a hybrid, so takes on some characteristics of each of the parent plant. 

      While English Ivy does drop leaves, it is a beautiful houseplant if cared for properly. The hybrid x Fatshedera is equally beautiful but slightly different in that it does not climb but actually requires some support.

      I appreciate your comments, please stop back again soon!

      Reply
  3. Misael H

    You know, I’ve been searching for some plants because I’ve been trying to decorate around my new apartment but I wanna go a little different with my choices. An English Ivy plant seems like one of my great options after reading this article. After reading through the process of taking care of one, I think it’s a good choice to go with as part of my selection. Glad I ran into this article and I’m going to be looking more into your website as I continue to search for more options!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Yes, you can’t go wrong with the English Ivy. It makes a beautiful houseplant and fits into the apartment lifestyle.

      Thanks for visiting HousePlantJoy. Please stop back again soon.

      Reply
  4. Jason

    I love this plant! English ivy plants (Hedera helix) are excellent climbers, attaching themselves to almost any surface by using small roots that grow along the stems. Also
    Caring for ivy in English is very simple, I have planted it in distant and hard-to-reach areas without worrying about maintenance.

    Mind you, I have planted English ivy in a shady area with soil rich in organic nutrients. My soil lacked good organic matter, so I used compost before planting. I spaced the plants 18 to 24 inches apart, or 1 foot apart for faster coverage.

    One question: should you give them any special care in winter, on days with very low temperatures?

    I love my ivy 🙂
    Greetings and thanks for the contribution
    Jason

    Reply
    • Diane

      I’m glad you found your English Ivy so easy to care for. They are truly resiliant!

      As for winter care, remember that the outdoor ones that grow onto buildings (such as Ivy League colleges!) have no special care during the winter, even in the cold and snowy northeastern campuses. They do quite well, even in these adverse conditions. So indoor plants should be fine when the temperatures drop.

      Thanks for visiting HousePlantJoy. Please stop back again soon!

      Reply
  5. Ron Mendoza

    So this plant is where Ivy League universities got their name for that’s very interesting. I have always wondered why they call those prestigious universities that lol. Anyway, I think the health benefits you included at the end proves that this plant is more than its aesthetic purpose. It’s good to know that there’s research to prove that it helps with COPD because its difficult to be stuck with that illness, and a little relief from it without taking more antibiotics is a big help.

    Reply
    • Diane

      It’s true that most people are unaware of the reason we call the upper universities Ivy Leagues. And while the fact might not be life-changing, it is quite interesting.

      Yes, the health benefits of the English Ivy plant have been well researched and enjoyed by many. It’s a good plant to add to any home.

      Reply
  6. Karin Nauber

    Wow! The English Ivy plant is pretty cool and has a lot more uses than I ever imagined. I have had them growing in my house for years as I love the way they look. One time I had one in my kitchen when I lived in an apartment. I was so busy, I hardly ever ate at home and neglected the plant for nearly a month. To my surprise and joy, it was still alive—barely, but it was. I did everything to keep that plant alive. I still have it 26 years later! Well, it’s a shoot from the original, but I have repotted it and divided it several times and given cuttings to others.

    Have you ever tried it as tea? How does it taste? I get nervous trying things, but would certainly try it as I love tea! I have noticed less problems with allergies over the past few years. Perhaps I have my English Ivy to thank!

    Reply
    • Diane

      You are certainly blessed to have your English Ivy with you for 26 years! And yes, they can be quite resiliant.

      I have not personally tried them as a tea, but I know that others enjoy them for that. I just love the looks, the serenity, and the health benefits from these lovely vines. And yes, they may be helping with your allergies, too!

      Reply
  7. Nozipho Sibanda

    Well written article, so many details about the English Ivy that I didn’t know of. In fact all I’ve ever heard of is the poison Ivy which I’m sure this isn’t it as you mentioned that this plant can be ingested to help alleviate ailments in humans. How long does it take to grow this plant from scratch? It’s really pretty and I would like to grow it for appearance and health purposes. 

    Reply
    • Diane

      It’s true that many overlook the English Ivy, thinking it is just a weed or vine. But it can be a marvelous houseplant, given the right conditions.

      In answer to your question, the English Ivy grows quite quickly. An easy way to propagate is to use a cutting from a more mature plant.

      Thanks for visiting the site. Please stop back again soon!

      Reply
  8. Sj

    This English Ivy plant took me back to my younger days living with my grandparents. My grandmother had one inside the house that she always took care of. She made it look so easy and from time to time I would see her sing around all of her plants. They were always so beautiful and every time her Ivy would grow over the pot onto the floor she would get another long piece of wood to support it. Thank you for sharing. This bought back wonderful memories.

    Reply
    • Diane

      I am so happy that the article about the English Ivy brought back happy memories for you. That is one of the things that plants do for me as well–they connect me with people from long ago, including my own Grandma.

      Thanks for sharing!

      And thank you for stopping by. Please visit again soon.

      Reply

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