How to Care for English Ivy Indoors

How to care for indoor english ivy

I always see English Ivy (Hedera Helix) touted as an easy houseplant to grow indoors.

However, from my experience, they do not grow as well in hot and dry climates with low humidity or in houses with significant indoor heating due to the fact they are native to the cooler temperature climate of England!

I found that when I lived in the cooler climate of New York, I was much more successful at growing English ivy compared to the relatively hot and dry climate of Southern California.

But who doesn’t love the look of English Ivy? I promise they are worth the effort, and I think they add an exquisite air of English elegance when their vines drape down off a mantle piece or on shelves.

To care for English Ivy as a houseplant, it is important to maintain a cool temperature of between 35°F and 60°F (2°C to 16°C), locate the ivy in bright indirect light, and only water when the top inch of the soil is dry.

Here is a table summarizing the care requirements for your English Ivy:

Indoor Ivy Growing Requirements:How do you Care for English Ivy Indoors?
Watering:Water ivy with a generous soak when the top inch of the soil is dry, which is usually every 7 days in Spring and Summer and every 10 days in Fall in Winter.
Light:Bright, indirect light ensures the best growth, but it can grow in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
Temperature:The Best Temperature Range for English Ivy is Between 35°F and 60°F (2°C to 16°C)
Fertilizer:Use a general, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month in the Spring and Summer. However, do not use a fertilizer in Winter.
Pruning:Prune your ivy every Spring to create a more bushy appearance, as the vines can grow leggy.
Potting Soil:Use a mix of 2/3’s houseplant potting soil with around 1/3 perlite or pine bark-based potting mix to create the optimal soil structure for ivy.
Repotting:Re-pot ivy every 2 years.
Best Pots for Ivy:Ivy is hardy and can grow in any pot with a drainage hole, however, clay and terracotta are best as they are porous allowing the potting soil to dry out evenly.
Winter Care:Mist the leaves every other day and keep the ivy in a bright, cool spot in the house.

How Often Do You Water English Ivy?

Water your indoor English ivy when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Typically, I find this means watering once every 7 days during active growth in the Spring and Summer and once every 10 days during Fall and Winter when the plant is dormant.

From my experiments with watering English ivy, I have found that This is the optimal watering cycle to meet Ivy’s water requirements without risking problems associated with overwatering, such as root rot, as ivy does not like wet soil.

I must emphasize that it is vital that you do not let the soil dry out completely between each bout of watering, as this causes the leaves of your ivy to turn brown.

Always water the soil with a generous soak to the extent that water trickles from the drainage holes in the pot’s base to ensure the potting soil is evenly moist. If you water too lightly, the moisture does not reach the roots where it is required.

Mist the leaves every few days if you are in a climate with low humidity, as this prevents the edges from turning brown. I found that I had to mist the leaves more often whenever I use air conditioning or indoor heating, so keep an eye on your ivy and mist it as often as required, according to your indoor climate.

How Much Light Does Ivy Need?

Indoor English ivy grows best in bright, indirect light. Ivy can grow in direct morning sunlight but is likely to scorch brown in the afternoon sun. Ivy can grow in full shade, but from my experience, it always grows more slowly, and the foliage is smaller.

Variegated varieties of English Ivy can lose their contrasting colors and turn green if they are in too much shade, so it is important to find a location with bright light to maintain and increase the variegation.

You can provide protection for the ivy in sunny rooms by using a sheer curtain to avoid direct sunlight.

My best tip: I personally grow my variegated ivy in a bright porch, that has frosted glass at the front of my house which faces South to ensure it has enough light for variegation and has the optimal temperature range for ivy

The Best Temperature Range for English Ivy is Between 35°F and 60°F (2°C to 16°C)

Ivy is native to the cooler English climate and, therefore, does not tolerate the hot temperatures and dry air from the indoor heating of our modern houses.

Therefore, to grow English ivy successfully, it is important to replicate the conditions of its native environment by locating it in a cool, unheated porch or draughty area of the house.

The optimal temperature range for English ivy is between 35°F and 60°F (2°C to 16°C), and problems can occur if the temperature at night is in excess of 60°F (16°C) with yellowing leaves and poor growth.

If you do not have a room with these temperatures (or live in a hot climate like I used to), then I recommend growing Pothos (also known as ‘Devil’s ivy’) as this has a similar appearance and due to its tropical origins, a greater tolerance of warmer household temperatures.

Pothos is a good alternative to English Ivy as it can cope with warm indoor temperatures, due to its tropical origins.
Pothos is my recommendation of a good alternative to English Ivy as it can cope with warm indoor temperatures due to its tropical origins.

How Often to Fertilize Indoor Ivy?

Use a general all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month during Spring and Summer to support healthy growth. Do not use any fertilizer in the Winter whilst the ivy is dormant as this can harm the roots.

Ivy is not a particularly heavy feeder, but I highly recommend using fertilizer as I love how it (in combination with bright light) can promote bigger, glossy ivy leaves.

Who doesn’t love big glossy leaves?!

How Often Should I Prune Indoor English Ivy?

Why is my ivy turning brown
I cut back my ivy vines every Spring to encourage bushy growth.

Whilst you do not have to prune ivy every year, I personally recommend that you Prune your indoor ivy every Spring to a desired size and shape. Consistent pruning promotes a more bushy, attractive appearance with more foliage.

Trim the vines back with a sharp, sterile pair of pruners. You can successfully prune ivy at any time of year due to its hardiness but Spring is the best time as this is when the ivy is at its more resilient, during active growth.

I personally recommend propagating the cutting you take from your ivy as it is incredibly easy to propagate and is a cost-effective way for more houseplants. Who doesn’t love more free ivy plants? Plus you can give them away to friends and family as a gift!

Best Potting Soil For English Ivy

Ivy needs a well-draining potting soil with an aerated, porous structure that holds moisture yet allows excess water to drain away.

From my experience, I personally think what works best is a generic miracle-gro potting soil and mix it with around 20% percent perlite or pine bark-based potting compost.

Pothos is a good alternative to English Ivy as it can cope with warm indoor temperatures, due to its tropical origins.
I use 2/3s potting soil with 1/3 orchid potting mix to provide the optimal soil structure for growing ivy.

The added pine bark or perlite are great amendments for an ivy potting mix as the large particle size creates the optimal porous soil structure to avoid problems associated with overwatering, such as root rot and replicates the preferred soil conditions of the ivy’s native environment.

How Often Should You Repot Your Ivy?

Re-pot your ivy every 2 years in the Spring into a pot that is 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. Re-pot with new potting soil amended with perlite for drainage, ensuring the new pot has drainage holes in the base.

Repotting with new soil ensures your ivy has enough nutrients to support healthy growth, and the larger pot can hold more moisture, which prevents your ivy from drying out too quickly and developing brown leaves.

Your new pot must be no more than 2 inches larger than the previous pot, as over-potting in a pot that is disproportionately larger than the size of the ivy plant can cause too much moisture around the ivy’s roots and increase the risk of root rot.

Root rot, caused by over-potting, is one of the most common problems I see people have when repotting any houseplant, which is why I think it is so important to find a pot that is proportionate to the size of the ivy, even if you have to buy another pot.

Best Pots for Indoor Ivy Plants

My favorite pots for ivy are ceramic, clay, or terracotta pots with a wide diameter of at least 6 inches to accommodate the ivy’s shallow roots system. Ivy spreads its roots wide and shallow, so the pot does not have to be deep. Ensure the pot has drainage holes in the base.

I personally prefer to use unglazed clay and terracotta pots for growing ivy as they are porous materials that allow the soil to dry out more evenly. In contrast, plastic or glazed ceramic pots are impermeable and can retain water around the ivy’s roots for too long.

This can lead to an increased risk of root rot if you overwater the plant.

It should be noted that I have found ivy is at more risk from overwatering than underwatering, and it is much easier to revive an under-watered indoor ivy.

How Fast Does Ivy Grow?

Ivy can grow particularly fast as an outside climber in its native environment and quickly become a problematic plant with more than 2 feet of growth in a year (70 cm).

However, the indoor growth rate tends to be more moderate, with around 12 inches (30 cm) or so a year, so you don’t have to worry!

You can increase the rate of growth by locating ivy in bright, indirect light to ensure the ivy has all the energy it needs to grow and use fertilizer in the Spring and Summer seasons.

Keep in mind that the fast-growing vines have aerial roots that cling to anything in reach and they can leave marks when you try to remove the vines.

I can assure you that the marks are actually very easy to clean off. In my experience, hot, soapy water works well.

If your ivy grows too long, you can just prune it back with a sterile pair of pruners.

How to Care for Ivy in the Winter

I come across lots of Ivy plants that struggle indoors during Winter due to the increase in temperature from indoor heating, which not only increases the temperature unfavorably high but also saps moisture from the air.

I find misting the leaves of your indoor ivy every 2 or 3 days during Winter to increase the humidity around the leaves and keep it within a cool room with a temperature range of between 35°F and 60°F (2°C to 16°C) works well. Reduce how often you water your ivy to once every 2 weeks, ensuring the top inch of soil is dry before watering again.

Top tip: If you are ever unsure of water, just feel the soil with your finger to a depth of one inch. If you think the soil still feels damp to a depth of one inch, then I recommend waiting until you are sure the soil feels dry before watering.

As i have stated Ivy copes better with underwatering (particularly in Winter) rather the overwatering.

Do not use any fertilizer in the Winter, as the ivy is dormant.

Whilst ivy is an evergreen plant, in my experience some leaves fall off every Winter as part of their natural cycle, particularly if the ivy is in a shaded room, but the vines can regrow in the Spring and improve the appearance.

I have had good success growing my ivy on a cool porch at the front of my house in Winter, as it has enough light to sustain most of the leaves and has a favorable temperature range, although a cool window sill can work as well.

If you have any problems with your indoor English ivy, read my article, How to Revive a Dying Ivy Plant.

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