English Ivy Care – How to Grow Hedera Helix Indoors


Wondering about English ivy care? If you want to grow this plant indoors, we discuss the essential details that you need to know.

English ivy (Hedera helix) is an evergreen, fast-growing foliage plant that can climb, trail dramatically from a hanging basket, and reach some serious lengths. It’s great as a decorative houseplant because it’s relatively adaptable and low-maintenance, and will remain leafy and green throughout the year with very little effort on the part of its owner. 

You’ll find this specimen growing wild all over Great Britain and Europe. It’s considered invasive because it will take over as ground cover and strangle other plants – but if it’s indoors in a pot, hopefully it will be under better control! 

Ivy is often thought to symbolise eternity, devotion and fidelity – it makes a lovely gift for an engagement or wedding, or for a couple moving into their first home. Below, we unpack everything you need to know about English ivy care, so you can successfully grow this plant indoors. 

English ivy care - Hedera helix in a hanging basket

Light requirements

Ivy is often seen in forests in Europe as a groundcover, which might make you think it likes shade. While it grows well in full or part shade outdoors, indoor ivy actually needs a bit more light. 

Bright, indirect light in summer, and some direct light in winter, will be most effective for keeping your ivy healthy. A south-facing room placed back from the windows will work well for this plant. 

Temperature requirements

Try to keep your ivy in a room that remains between about 45 and 80oF. Ivy doesn’t like to get too hot – it’s English, after all! It also doesn’t like to be too cold, though, so don’t think you can leave it on the porch through winter, and make sure it doesn’t get below that 45 degree mark for too long a period.

Watering requirements

Let the soil surface of your ivy dry out in between waters. When watering, aim to make the soil moist but not soggy. Do not allow any standing water to remain in the ivy – if you overwater, be sure to drain the excess water from the pot. 

Ideally, allow your plant medium to high humidity. If your home has particularly dry air, intermittent misting may help the plant to thrive, and you should also increase misting in winter, when the air is naturally drier. Kept in the right temperature and humidity, you’ll see more full, dark green leaves on the plant.

Soil requirements

Ivy is quite adaptable and will grow in a number of different soils, with a variety of pH levels. However, to keep it at its best, plant your ivy in loose, well-drained potting mix. Ivy likes to be able to dry itself out, so ensure the mix lends itself well to drainage. 

Mixing some perlite or sand into a standard commercial potting mix will give this plant the best chance to reach peak health, and make sure you plant it in a pot with drainage holes. 

Special care

English ivy is a highly aggressive plant, and in the wild it will smother other plants, causing problems for native species. It’s nearly impossible to eradicate, and is labelled as an invasive species – Oregon has even banned the sale or import of English ivy. Do not plant English ivy outdoors and be careful to ensure it is contained within its pot.

Propagating

English ivy is particularly easy to propagate, so once you get yours growing, you can start producing more plants for your friends, family, and the other rooms in your home. 

Propagating via cuttings is the easiest method. Simply cut a section of your ivy that holds a few leaves, cutting directly above a leaf, then follow one of two methods.

  • The first method is simply to place the cutting in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill, changing the water frequently to keep it fresh, and wait for roots to develop. Once the roots are looking substantial, plant the cutting in a loose potting mix, watering it generously to bed it in after planting. 
  • The second method is to dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone and then plant directly into a potting mix comprised of sand and soil. Again, water it in after planting.

Pests & problems

Ivy is quite hardy, and rarely experiences problems with pests and disease. Poor drainage and overwatering can lead to root rot in some cases.

When it comes to bugs, all the usual suspects can be a problem – aphids, scale, mealybugs, whiteflies and mites. If these appear, you can simply prune the affected area of the plant away, or treat it with neem oil. 

Toxicity

The ASPCA advises that ivy is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. The main signs of poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea. This is not a great plant for a household with animals.

It’s also toxic to humans – the berries, sap and foliage can all be toxic, and skin contact can cause irritation. Be careful when handling ivy and keep it away from children. 

Common questions about English Ivy care

Should I fertilize my English Ivy?

If you want to make your ivy really lush and green, you can fertilize it during the growing season – spring, summer and fall – with a fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Do not fertilize it during the winter, as the ivy likes a period of dormancy during the year. 

Should I train my English Ivy up a frame?

English ivy is capable of climbing, so you can train it up a frame, wire or pole if you like. You may find it will begin climbing of its own accord if you leave something suitable nearby. It can also be planted in a hanging pot, or on a pot on a high shelf, so that it trails, or you can keep it pruned right back if you prefer. 

Does English Ivy flower?

Mature English ivy has a green flower, a little paler than the green of the leaves, and will usually flower in the late fall and early winter. Its blooms are not particularly spectacular, though, and most people grow this plant indoors for the foliage, not the flower. 

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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