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Your Ivy Tree as a Houseplant
Hardy and beautiful, it is easy to grow an Ivy Tree Indoors. Also known as “x Fatshedera lizei, these unusual plants result from a cross between two genera, the English ivy (Hedera) and Fatsia japonica.
The resulting hybrid, with a Latin name of x Fatshedera, provides an interesting specimen. While it grows wild alongside the roads in tropical regions, growers propagate them for houseplant specimens, too. The hybrid retains the leaf shape of its Fatsia japonica genetics and the climbing nature of the English Ivy. However, it lacks the ability to climb walls and trees, instead relying on supports.
Because Fatshedera does not grip like a true ivy, to create the tree effect, you need to provide a stake or similar support. However, once properly staked, the plant’s stems grow quite long and form an interesting border to a bright window.
Like the English Ivy parent plant, Fatshedera prefers a cooler temperature. It also requires a high humidity level to maintain it’s health. Generally speaking, if you grow English Ivy successfully, you will find similar results with Fatshedera.
Discovered over a century ago, growing in the wild, Fatshedera quickly gained admirers. The oversized leaves with creamy splashes around the leaf edges resemble a giant ivy.
Growing Conditions Needed
Use these guidelines for growing your ivy tree:
- Light: It thrives in anything from bright light to light shade in the summer. Dimmer light suffices during winter. Dappled sunlight keeps it happy. However, it doesn’t like direct sunlight. Consider this plant for cooler rooms. In winter, keep at about 70°F for the best plant health.
- Water: Keep the soil moist in the summer growing season. But your Ivy Tree prefers less water in the winter months when mostly dormant. Remember to use cool or room temperature water, never warm or hot. Fatshedera enjoys a mist occasionally to raise humidity.
- Fertilizer: During the growing season, feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer. Ensure it includes micronutrients to encourage blooming. Fatshedera responds well to ample fertilization as it is a heavy feeder.
- Soil: Use a light, fast-draining potting soil. Some like to use fortified soils.
As a sterile hybrid, Ivy trees propagate from stem-tip cuttings, not from seeds. While not essential, using a rooting hormone increases the odds of success. Also, be sure to keep the humidity level high.
Repot each year at the beginning of the new growing season. When repotting, use fresh potting soil and use a pot at least one size larger than the one it currently grows in.
The Ivy Tree needs cooler temperatures anytime. However, during repotting and shortly after, excessive heat causes even more stress. Avoid exposure to warmer temperatures, especially during the repotting time and shortly after.
Fatshedera often appears quite sparse. To create a bushier look, plant two or three in the same pot. Alternatively, try pinching off the growing tips of emerging stems. This encourages some side growth.
As a hybrid cross of English ivy and Fatsia japonica, Fatshedera exists in only one variety. In fact, because it is sterile as many hybrids are, Fatshedera does not cross with other species, either. However, several variations exist. They show with increased leaf variegation or larger cream-color splotches on the leaves.
Grow an Ivy Tree Using These Tips
Just as with English ivy, providing plenty of humidity with cooler temperatures offers the key to growing these successfully. Avoid over-watering as it causes leaves to turn yellow and often drop off. Likewise, hot, dry air causes the leaves to turn brown and drop off the plant.
To increase the color variegation in plants with green and cream coloring, increase the light. More light results in stronger variegation. However, leaves that are all green with no cream need less light. Growers consider them easier to grow, due to the lessened light needs.
To increase growth, consider these two choices. Using a climbing post, train the plant to grow vertically. This usually requires tying the plant to your post as Fatshedera does not climb like the English Ivy parent.
Alternatively, if you don’t have room for a climbing plant, pinch off the growing shoots to encourage a shrubby growth habit.
Pests you might find when you grow an ivy tree
Fatshedera plants are vulnerable to spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. As such, look under the big leaves for signs of infestation. Also, look for crinkling or curled leaves.
Always treat infestations early to prevent the pests from spreading to the whole plant or to your other houseplants.
Nicknamed “botanical wonder” due to its hybridization, Fatshedera combines the qualities of both parents: Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix (English ivy).
One parent, English Ivy, happily climbs wherever it grows. The other, Fatsia japonica, grows as a shrub. Fatshedera combines these by growing vertically like ivy, but then falling over and continuing its growth across the ground. However, tying the thin, pliable branches onto a support post or pole enables us to train them to climb.
Fatshedera produces shiny, dark green leaves of about 8 inches wide. In spring look for new growth covered with a fine layer of rusty brown hairs. A flourishing plant produces small clusters of white flowers in the fall.
But, don’t worry about seedlings. This hybrid, like many bigeneric, remains completely sterile. NOTE: The x sign preceding the genus names indicates that it is a bigeneric hybrid. The term bigeneric means that the parent stock crossed represent different genus.
Plant Type: vine
Foliage Type: evergreen
Plant Height: 24 in. (0.61 meters)
Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. (3.05 meters)
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 9
Sun/Light Exposure: sunlight, filtered light, will tolerate shade
Water Requirements: regular summer watering brings full, lush growth
Colors & Combos
Great Color Contrasts: silver, gold, blue, variegated
Great Color Partners: dark green, white, chartreuse
Culture: This evergreen hybrid prefers a rich, well-drained soil. It tolerates sandy soil or clay but requires good drainage. While it needs regular watering in the growing season, it requires less in the winter. Protect it from full sun to keep it’s color and growth.