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.

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.

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.


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.


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.



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.



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.


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.



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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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.


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.



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!



english ivy plant care
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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.


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!


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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