Hedera Helix - How to Care for English Ivy

Hedera Helix – How to Care for English Ivy

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Have you ever wanted to get a plant that is easy to take care of but will also make your home look like a 19th-century European castle? Well, look no further!

English ivy is an evergreen plant with woody vines that you’ve probably already seen growing on the side of a building or a tree.

Luckily for you, it can easily be manipulated and kept indoors, and this guide is here to help you.

Here’s everything that you need to know about English ivy care, from planting and watering to propagation and problems that you might come across.

How to Grow English Ivy Plant

how to grow english ivy

The English ivy has been an influential plant even since the time of Greeks and Romans when it was depicted as the plant of Dionysus (or Bacchus), but other than that it’s native mostly to Europe, but also Asia.

This plant is usually used to cover ground or walls outside, but using its ornamental abilities indoors will make your home look greener throughout the year. 

Without a doubt, this plant will look beautiful placed somewhere high up, from where you can let its crawling vines gracefully reach for the ground.

The heart-shaped leaves can vary in color depending on which variety you choose, but they are usually dark green.

But how can you grow this plant?

Well, if you don’t want to take some time to grow the plant yourself, or if this is something that you’re not experienced with, it might be best if you buy an already grown plant from your local garden center.

But, if you’re up for a challenge of growing an English ivy plant all by yourself I’m here to teach you how to grow it from seeds.

Well, it won’t be much of a challenge.

Growing an English ivy plant from seeds doesn’t take a lot of pre-treatment, but it still isn’t a fast process.

So, the first thing that you need to do is to get some seeds. You can do this either at your local garden center or you can purchase them online.

Now you can get to planting.

My favorite method to use is the stratification process and I’m going to teach you how to do it.

The Stratification Process

First and foremost, you need to prepare the seeds for germination.

So, the materials that you’ll need for this are English ivy plant seeds, a bowl, a seed tray, potting soil, and a lot of patience.

Take the seeds and put them in a regular bowl or any similar storage.

Now, put them in a refrigerator and keep them there for 30 to 60 days. This is where patience comes in.

After that, warm up some water, but don’t let it boil. You want to soak them up, not cook them. Cover the seeds in warm water and leave them to soak for 12 to 24 hours.

Finally, after you strain the enlarged seeds they’ll be ready for growth.

Now it’s time to plant them.

Get the seed tray and fill it with the finest possible potting soil to give the seeds the highest quality of growth environment.

After you fill the ¾ of every section of the seed tray with soil, take an English ivy seed and push it gently into the soil, but don’t let the soil cover the seed.

Last but not least, water the seeds, but make sure not to use too much water.

It’s important to get some moisture into the soil when the seeds are rooting, but overwatering can do more harm than good.

In addition to that, the temperature should be around 60 to 70oF.

Once again, this is the part of the growth process that will seem like it takes forever, but the English ivy is actually one of the fastest-growing houseplants.

If you opt for this pre-treatment it should take the seeds around 3 to 4 weeks to root and become seedlings.

This plant doesn’t grow very fast at first, but it gets better once it reaches a certain maturity.

The next step is to transfer the seedlings if they’re big enough, which is also something that you’ll need to do if you bought an already grown seedling from a seller.

Potting the seedling

Firstly, it’s important to pick the right pot for your plant.

It should be shallow and wide because the roots of an English ivy don’t grow very deep. It’s also important that the pot has draining holes at the pot.

It should be made either from plastic or clay, but plastic pots are better at holding in water.

Next is the soil. A regular well-draining potting mix should do just fine. You could mix some compost in if you want to help your plant to grow better and healthier.

Also, pick the right spot for your seedling. It should be put somewhere where it can get a lot of indirect light to ensure its growth.

By the third year, the plant should show significant growth, and you can even grow it with a steak if you want to shape it into something interesting or if you want to make a topiary.

Of course, if you already had an English ivy plant in your home you could have used it to grow another one by the process of propagation, but that’s something that I’ll cover later on in this article, so stay tuned.

Now, let’s go more in-depth about caring for English ivy.

How to Take Care of an English Ivy Plant

The process of English ivy indoor care is surprisingly very simple.

This plant isn’t choosy at all, which is what makes it great for beginners. Some would even say that it’s easier to grow it indoors than outdoors.

Here are some of the basic things that you should know about taking care of this plant, but I’ll get into more details of some of them later.

Pick the right pot

As mentioned above, the right pot for an English ivy plant is shallow and wide, because this plant’s roots don’t grow deep.

It should be made from either clay or plastic with drain holes at the bottom.

In addition to that, you should know that plastic is a better choice if you want something that will hold the water in the soil for longer.

Put a container under the pot so that it can get filled with all the excess water.

A good pot is one of the key parts of saving your plant from overwatering and root rot.

Pick the right soil 

A standard potting mix should do just fine for this plant, but if you want to you can get the ones that are filled with nutrients.

Actually, this plant can grow almost everywhere, but a rich type of soil is always going to be the better choice.

Also, you can mix compost with regular potting soil if you want to make it stronger by yourself.

You can get the regular potting soil in any gardening store or online.

The most important thing is that it’s the well-draining type of soil.


They prefer to be slightly dry, but the rule is that you should always check the soil before you decide to water it.

If the top layer of soil is dry you can water it, just take care not to overdo it.

As mentioned above in the parts about picking the right pot and the right soil for your plant, remember that it needs excellent draining.


Mist the plant every once in a while to keep it moisturized, especially if the humidity in the room where you keep it in is low.

This should be done especially in winter if you use artificial heating, and also in the summer unless you live in a humid environment.

Humidity in the room

While it’s true that this plant can grow in almost any condition, it doesn’t like when the air is too dry.

If misting doesn’t help you can either ass a humidifier or put your potted plant over a tray filled with pebbles and water.

Cleaning the leaves

Gently cleaning the leaves from dust with a wet cloth is one of the most important steps when it comes to keeping away pests and keeping your plant healthy and good-looking.


While it’s best for the plant to keep it somewhere where it can get a lot of indirect light, English ivy can grow even in low light conditions.

You can even use artificial light.


This plant prefers moderate temperature, somewhere between 45 to 80oF, but keep it consistent, with good air circulation.


Fertilizing your plant will make it grow strong and beautiful.

You can use different types of fertilizers for this plant, but it’s important to fertilize it during the active growth period and that is in spring and summer.

There’s no need for fertilization in winter.


Prune the plant every once in a while with small pruning shears and gloves to remove any dry or diseased leaves or to just manipulate the plant into growing differently.

This, along with using stakes or different frames, is great for making topiaries.


You’ll need to wear gloves when pruning the plant because it’s toxic.

It could cause you to have a rash, and you should keep it away from any pets that you might have because it’s poisonous to them.


Propagation is usually done from stem cuttings, and it’s a simple process that I’ll explain later on.

Repot when needed

Your plant is going to need repotting if you notice that it started drying out or if you can see that the roots take up most of the soil.

english ivy repotting

Check the above-mentioned right type of pot and make sure that it’s no bigger than 1 inch in diameter than the last one.


Most pests can easily be taken care of, but there are also some preventive measures that you can take for some of them.

The most common once are spider mites, but there are also aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scales.

All of these are easily treatable.


The most common diseases are Xanthomonas, or bacterial leaf spot, and Rhizoctonia, or root rot, but I’ll get more into detail about them later.

English Ivy Benefits

Keeping an English ivy plant in your home is great for air quality.

This plant is one of the best air-purifying houseplants out there.

Follow its behavior

The most important thing that you need to do when caring for English ivy is to watch the way it reacts.

Follow its surrounding and behavior closely, so that you can notice any problems before they become too big to solve.

Watering English Ivy Plant

I already mentioned how the English ivy plant prefers to be on the slightly drier side, but you should never let it go completely dry.

Here are a couple of rules that you should follow when it comes to English ivy care indoors.

How often should you water your English ivy plant?

As a rule, you should always check if the soil is dry before watering your plant.

So, if the top layer of soil in the pot is dry, feel free to add some water.

You should add water to the pot until you see it start draining out through the holes into the container set under the pot.

And after the excess water drains out completely you can go and remove it, because too much water can cause root damage.

This is why this plant needs excellent drainage. Choosing both a good well-draining potting soil mix and an adequate pot with draining holes is detrimental for your plant’s health and well-being.

Keeping your plant in standing water or letting the soil get soggy can destroy it.

English Ivy overwatering

All in all, you’re probably going to be watering your English ivy plant at least twice a week, depending on a couple of factors, like the temperature and the humidity in the room.

The first factor that you should care about is the season. The ivy plant is going to need less watering during the winter months, when it’s not actively growing.

Of course, you should still water it, but you’ll notice how infrequently that’s going to happen.

The active growth period for all plants is during spring and summer, when the weather is warm and the terms are suitable.

This is when the plant is going to need the most water, so you should take care of the dryness of the soil actively.

The Right Level of Humidity

It often happens that people are wondering why their plants are wilting even though they’ve been watering them the whole time, but the truth is that just moisturizing the roots isn’t enough.

There needs to be the right amount of moisture even for the foliage of the plant.

What could bother the plant in this case?

Well, if it’s winter and you’re using artificial heating in your home, the dry air actually reduces humidity in the room and damages the plant.

Or, let’s say you live somewhere where the summer means a really dry climate and you notice your plant drying up.

There are a couple of ways that you can get some moisture to this plant’s leaves.

First, you can fill a container with pebbles and water and then put the potted plant over them.

The water will evaporate slowly and give the right humidity to the plant.

If you don’t want to do that, you can also put a humidifier in the room with the plant.

You should also know that the English ivy isn’t a big fan of air conditioning.


Misting is another key step when it comes to English ivy care.

You should mist your plant regularly, once or twice a week.

As mentioned above, do this during the dry months for the plant. You can mist the English ivy plant up to three times a week.

The plant should be kept moist and in humid conditions, but don’t soak it up too much.

Cleaning the leaves

You should clean the leaves every once in a while to make sure that your English ivy plant stays healthy.

The dust that accumulates on the leaves can harm the plant, make it soak up less sunshine, and makes the leaves a great place for pests.

Use a soft wet cloth and rub the dust off the leaves as gently as possible.

Proper Lighting for Hedera Helix

english ivy lighting

The key step to choosing the right spot for your plant is the amount of light that the place gets.

But it’s not just that. You should also take care of the temperature and air circulation, but let’s start with the light.

How much light does my plant need?

Most English ivy plants like to get 6 to 8 hours of indirect sunlight during both summer and winter, just like any other plant.

But, the amount of light that your plant will need depends on its variegation.

English ivy plant is known for its ability to survive even in low light conditions. You can even set it up with some artificial lighting during the winter.

As a rule, the ivy variety that has green leaves with white variegation likes less direct sunlight that the completely dark green one, meaning that you don’t have to care about the lack of light that it’s getting.

You can put it somewhere where it can get both partial or full shade, and it will still live.

Also, you could check out some other houseplants that grow in low light if you want to up your collection but don’t think you have the right terms.

But you should also know that less light will always mean less growth and less green foliage.

So it might be best if you put your English ivy somewhere where it can get a lot of bright and indirect light if you want it to grow faster and look more beautiful.

This is especially true for plants during the active growth period, as they need more light than during the dormant months. 

In addition to that, you should know that this plant definitely doesn’t enjoy direct sunlight, as it can burn and damage the leaves.

Temperature and air circulation

Other than lighting, it’s also important to pick the right spot for your plant based on the conditions made by the temperature of the air around it and the way that it circulates.

The English ivy plant enjoys living in moderate conditions, and it doesn’t need a lot when it comes to these two.

The temperature can be set anywhere from 45 to 80oF, but it must be consistent.

Big variations in temperature can be a shock to the plant, but it does prefer a bit cooler nights.

It also requires good air circulation, but it doesn’t like cold drafts.

Don’t put your plant near any windows, both because of the direct sunlight and the drafts that might occur.

Also, as mentioned before, this plant isn’t a big fan of air conditioning.

If you use air conditioning to lower the temperatures you should move your plant somewhere else where it won’t suffer from the direct cold air, and if you use it to heat the house you should know that lowering the humidity will cause your plant to wilt up and die.

All in all, this plant isn’t that finicky and will grow almost everywhere, but you should still follow the way it reacts to the environment and put it somewhere where it will get the best out of everything.

Next, let’s get to fertilizing. How can you feed this plant?

Fertilizing English Ivy Plant

english ivy fertilizing

Fertilization is one of the most important steps to growing healthy and strong indoor plants.

This process is used to build up the nutrients in the soil so that your plant can feed on them to become less prone to diseases and pests.

Not fertilizing your plants would be the same as if you didn’t take your vitamins or had a proper diet. IT would lower the strength of your immune system and make you weaker.

And if you don’t want to do this to yourself why would you do it to your plants?

When Should You Fertilize the English Ivy Plant?

Well, this would usually depend on the results that you want and the fertilizer that you’re using, but the conventional rule is that you should fertilize it only when it’s actively growing.

As mentioned before, the active growth period is during spring and summer, while winter is the dormant time, or the period when the plant doesn’t grow.

But, you could still fertilize the English ivy even during fall and winter if you notice that your plant needs it, just don’t do it as often as you would during the warmer months.

Truthfully, this plant requires little feeding and chances are that you won’t be fertilizing it during the dormant period.

Also, you shouldn’t fertilize the plant when it’s in a stressful situation, for example, when you recently treated it for pests and diseases. This can disturb the plant too much.

The amount of fertilizer that you need to give to the plant and schedule that you should keep depends on the type of fertilizer that you opted for.

Which Fertilizer Should You Use?

There are a couple of fertilizers that you can choose from, but fertilizer for indoor foliage plants with a high level of nitrogen is probably the best option.

It’s important to follow the instructions on the label thoroughly, and everything should be fine.

Usually, this kind of fertilizer should be given to the plants once every two weeks, but if you feel like that’s too strong for your English ivy you can get some slow-releasing fertilizer.

A slow-releasing fertilizer is applied once a month, you just need to saturate the soil with the solution described on the instructions.

I always suggest getting this nitrogen fertilizer for indoor foliage plants, because I think that it’s one of the best ones.

The most important rule that you need to remember is to never let the fertilizer solution get in contact with the plant’s foliage.

The chemicals in the fertilizer can cause fertilizer burn and ruin your plant, so make sure you just soak the soil.

Hedera Helix Pruning

english ivy pruning

Pruning is extremely important when it comes to English ivy indoor care, because this plant benefits immensely from trimmings.

Trailing plants, in general, need to be pruned every once in a while to ensure adequate growth, but this is also really important when you grow them indoors because this way you can easily manipulate them into any shapes that you want to.

For example, oftentimes people use the English ivy in their topiaries and you can also make an interesting plant shape just by using some stakes and wire, and some small pruning shears.

Pruning is what helps you make your plant either compact and bushy or long and trailing, depending on which you prefer.

Other than that, pruning is important because it makes the plant more immune to bacterial leaf spot by removing the leaves and vines that are less healthy.

The Tools

The right tools that you need to prune your plant are some small and sharp gardening shears and a pair of rubber gloves.

The shears should always be sterilized and clean before you begin shearing, and it’s also important that they’re sharp so you don’t damage the plant more than you need.

You have to wear gloves when getting in contact with this plant because, as I mentioned before, it’s toxic to people and animals, and will cause a rash on your skin.

How to Prune the English Ivy

The best time to prune the English ivy is before the active growth period, so at the beginning of spring, but you can do it anytime you see fit.

It’s also recommended that you cut it back vigorously every three to four years to ensure healthier growth.

However, when you do this make sure not to cut off more than 1/3 of the plant’s growth because it can shock the plant too much.

Other than doing it just to shape the plant, you need to prune to remove any leaves that might be damaged or diseased because they’re the ones that are sucking the energy from the rest of the plant.

Take your shears and prune the plant by cutting any leaves that need to go just below the node, which is the place where they meet the stem.

Pruning healthy parts can be done so that you can grow another plant by the process propagation, which is an easy process with English ivy.

English Ivy Plant Propagation

If you want to have another plant you can easily propagate English ivy from stem cuttings.

The process is simple. But firstly, timing is important.

English ivy propagation should be done during the active growth period when there are plenty of new stems growing from the plant.

Pick a newer and less woody stem, because it will grow more readily. However, the stem cutting should be around 5 inches long, so don’t pick the one that’s too small.

Take your small gardening shears and, as mentioned above, cut the stem off right below the node.

Your shears should be clean and sharp because you don’t want to damage the stem cutting.

Next, cut off the leaves from the bottom two inches of the cutting. This is the part from where your cutting will grow roots.

The next step is to dip the cutting into a rooting hormone and put it in a small pot filled with water.

The rooting hormone is going to help the plant grow faster, and the pot shouldn’t be filled with too much water because the cutting won’t need it.

Now, you’re going to need a little patience. It might take a while for the cutting to start growing roots and you should leave it alone until then.

When you notice that the roots are around 2 to 3 inches long it’s time to plant the cutting.

Planting the cutting is the same as mentioned above in the section about picking the right pot and the soil.

But once again, the pot should be shallow and wide because the roots of an English ivy don’t grow very deep, and it should have draining holes, while the soil can be a regular well-draining potting mix.

Watering and fertilizing the plant should also be done as usual, and the key to success is following the plant’s behavior accordingly.

Repotting English Ivy Plant

I got to be honest, setting up hanging baskets from which your English ivy plant can trail down look amazing, but you’re still going to need to repot it every once in a while if you want it to grow properly.

Speaking of potting and placing the ivy, you should know that this plant is considered invasive, so it might be best if you don’t put it anywhere near other plants.

The English ivy has these holdfasts that help it grow against walls and trees, which look great, but can be extremely harmful.

These holdfasts can even damage the wall and the trees that they’re growing up against, so keep your plants separated.

As I mentioned before, the keys to potting and repotting are the right pot and the right soil.

The right pot should be wide and shallow, with draining holes at the bottom, and the right soil is any standard well-draining potting mix.

Other materials that you’re going to need are some rubber gloves and a small spade.

Younger plants should be repotted every year because they grow faster. They’ll need fresh soil and bigger pots to grow into.

Older plants can be repotted every other year, and they might not need a new and bigger pot, but they’ll need some fresh soil.

However, if you notice that the roots are starting to get too big for the pot you should repot the plant into a bigger pot.

As a rule, if the roots take up more than ¾ of the soil, you should put the plant in a new pot that is no bigger than 1 inch in diameter than the last one.

Also, repotting should be done if you notice that the plant itself is starting to get too big or if it starts drying out pretty fast.

Don’t get lazy and go for a pot that’s too big just so you don’t have to get a new one anytime soon.

A pot that’s too big will hold more water, which will leave the soil wet for too long, which will eventually lead to root rot.

English Ivy Problems and Solutions

english ivy problems and solutions

This plant is notoriously easy to take care of, but there are still some problems that you might come across when caring for English ivy.

But luckily for you, I have a solution for most of them. Keep reading to find out more.

1. Wilted leaves

Most people would immediately go for the watering can as soon as they see the leaves wilting, but wilted leaves actually mean that the plant is experiencing some sort of stress, and watering might not always be the right solution.

There are a couple of reasons why your English ivy might be wilting.

A) Low humidity

Do you live in a dry climate, or do you use artificial heating during the winter? Is the air in your home noticeably drier?

If so, low humidity might be the cause of stress for your plant.

You can fix this by misting the leaves more often, setting a tray filled with pebbles and water under the potted plant, and even adding a humidifier to the room.

B) Underwatering

Are the wilted leaves also dry and crispy? This might be a sign that your plant needs to get watered.

However, before you go for the watering can check the soil and the roots.

If the bigger part of the soil is dry and if the roots seem dry and dehydrated, your plant needs more water.

The only thing that you need to do is water it, as usual, follow the way that it reacts and don’t give it any more water than it needs.

Also, prune any damaged leaves so the damage doesn’t spread.

C) Overwatering

Wilted leaves can also be a sign of overwatering, and this is why it’s important to check the roots and the soil before continuing.

If the soil is still wet and the roots of the plant are soggy, you need to let your English ivy plant rest for a while before watering it again.

Overwatering can lead to root rot, and saving your plant from that is almost impossible.

Prune away any leaves, stems, and roots that seem damaged, repot your plant according to the instructions above and make sure not to overwater it again.

2. Pests

Unfortunately, pests are a common problem, but the good news is that they’re usually easy to prevent and take care of.

Prevention is usually taken care of by washing the plants from time to time. The dust that accumulates on the plants is a nesting ground for pests, but using a wet cloth to gently wipe away both the top and the bottom part of the leaves can help you.

You can also completely wash the plant by completely dunking it into a sink filled with a solution of water and insecticidal soap.

The most common pests that you might notice on your plant are spider mites and aphids, but there can also be mealybugs, scales, and whiteflies.

Let’s look at the example of spider mites. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, or they have yellow spots, and if you see small webs on your plant, it’s probably a spider mites infestation.

Luckily for you, they’re easy to remove and prevent.

The first thing that you need to do is prune any damaged or infested leaves with some sharp and clean gardening shears.

Next, wipe the remaining parts with a wet cloth dipped in a cleaning solution made out of water and insecticidal soap. You can also spray the plant with homemade neem oil.

After that, wipe off the leaves gently once again.

This should help you get rid of the pests completely.

3. Diseases

There a couple of more common diseases that you should take care of when growing English ivy, but they can mostly be prevented with proper care.

A) Brown or black spots – Xanthomonas

Xanthomonas, or bacterial leaf spot, is a plant disease that often attacks ornamental plants and that will manifest in the form of black or brown dots or spots on the leaves of the English ivy.

In severe cases, the stems can become twisted and distorted. They can come from seeds and cutting that were already diseased.

You can prevent the spread of this bacteria in a couple of ways. The first is to never water the plant so that it splashes across the foliage because this will move the bacteria around.

The next step is constant pruning to get rid of any weak parts of the plant.

If you notice the spots on the plant, and pruning doesn’t seem to stop the spread, it’s time to get rid of the plant because the disease can transfer onto other plants.

Treat the remaining plants by spraying them with a solution of vinegar and water.

B) Root rot – Rhizoctonia

Root rot can be caused by too much humidity in the environment and fungi.

Just like with overwatering, check if the wilted leaves are a sign of soggy and rotten roots.

Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of this disease and the only solution is to get rid of the diseased plants and treat the other with fungicide.

Related Questions

1. Can I keep my English ivy plant in low light conditions?

Yes! English ivy, along with some other plants, can easily be grown even with a lack of light.

However, you should know that less light means less greenery and growth.

2. Why are the leaves of my English ivy plant wilting?

There could be a couple of reasons why your English ivy plant is wilting, and it’s usually due to low humidity, underwatering, or overwatering.

Check the soil and the roots of the plant to determine the cause and treat the plant accordingly like mentioned in the section above.

3. Why does my English ivy have brown spots?

The brown spots on a plant are a sign of a bacteria attacking it.

Unfortunately, the bacterial leaf spot can only be prevented and not cured. Make sure to remove the plant and start treating any other plants that you might have so that the disease doesn’t spread.

More on this is in the section above.

4. Is the English ivy toxic?

Yes. English ivy looks beautiful, but it can harm both you and any pets that you might have.

This is why it’s important to always wear gloves because you don’t want to get a rash, and also to keep away the plant from any places where your pet might reach them.

5. What are the benefits of keeping English ivy in your home?

There are plenty of benefits that humans have been using this plant for thousands of years, and most of them were medicinal despite its toxicity.

Even now, products made from this plant are used to treat asthma, coughing, bronchitis, and even arthritis.

But one of the most important English ivy benefits is the fact that it’s one of the best plants for air purifying.

Keeping this plant in your home will ensure that your air is clean, crisp, and without harmful gasses, and some experiments say that it might even help with allergies.


There you have it, my dears.

If you want a nice evergreen that will make your home feel like a real jungle, hedera helix is the one for you.

Not only that it is beautiful and that it grows fast but it also helps with improving the air quality in your rooms, so if you don’t have one, it is time to get an English ivy for yourself!

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