How to Revive a Dying Ivy Plant


Why is my ivy turning yellow

A dying Ivy plant is usually because of under watering, over watering or because the Ivy is planted in a pot that is too small with limited access to moisture and nutrients. If your Ivy is turning brown and dying back this is most likely due to dry soil, too much sun and under watering.

To revive dying Ivy it is important to water it appropriately, plant it in the right sized pot and use a fertilizer if necessary. Dying foliage should be cut back to promote healthy green growth.

Keep reading to learn why Ivy turns brown, yellow, not grow properly or have a dying appearance and how to revive it…

Dry soil- Ivy Leaves Turning Brown

The cause of a dying ivy plant with leaves turning brown is due to drought.

Ivy requires watering with a generous soak around once per week to stay healthy, however you may have to increase the frequency of your watering depending on your conditions.

If the soil dries too quickly because of small pots with less soil, high temperatures or intense sunlight then the ivy turns brown and dies back.

Even if you water your Ivy plant regularly it can still suffer the affects of drought and die back because:

  • Small pots and containers have less capacity for soil and therefore retain less moisture causing them to dry out too quickly for your ivy.
  • Ivy requires a generous soak when watering. If you water too lightly then this may only reach the top inch of the soil and not drain down to the roots of your ivy.
  • High temperatures and low humidity can both increase evaporation from the soil so there is less moisture available which causes your potted ivy to turn brown.
  • If your Ivy is outdoors and in full sun then the afternoon light can increase evaporation.

All the factors can contribute to your Ivy leaves turning brown and dying.

How to Revive an Ivy Dying Back with Brown Leaves

The key to saving your ivy is to water the plant appropriately for your climate or house conditions.

Watering once per week in most climates is optimal as this allows the soil to dry out somewhat between bouts of watering which is the ivy’s preferred balance of soil moisture.

However if your in a dry climate with low humidity you have to adjust the watering schedule so that the so surface feels dry but the soil does not dry out completely at the roots.

If you are unsure when to water you ivy, test the soil to a fingers depth, to see if you can detect moisture. Ideally the surface of the soil should feel dry but you should be able to detect some moisture so that the soil has not dried out completely.

Water potted Ivy it till you can see a trickle of water from the drainage hole out the base of the pot. This ensures that the water has reach the roots so that the ivy can stay healthy.

It is also important to plant your Ivy in an appropriately sized pot or container.

A larger pot has more capacity for soil and can retain moisture more effectively particularly in high temperatures. This also prevents the roots becoming pot bound and allows he roots to access more nutrients.

If you Ivy’s roots are noticeably pot bound then transfer your Ivy to a larger pot with a pot of around 10 inches across being suitable for hot climates to avoid drought and brown leaves.

Cut back any brown leaves or dying part of the plant with a pair of pruners to help stimulate new green growth.

If the leaves are entirely brown then the individual leaves are unlikely to revive, however cutting back should promote new healthy growth so that your Ivy can recover.

Healthy green growth of English ivy leaves.

(Read my article, how to water ivy plants for all the best watering practices).

Too Much Sun can Scorch Ivy Leaves

Ivy can grow in some direct sun but too much sun can damage the foliage giving the leaves a scorched appearance.

Ivy is woodland climber that prefers shade, partial sun or dappled light.

Move the Ivy to an area with bright indirect light or an are with morning sun followed by afternoon shade.

Most problems with sun exposure occur because a potted ivy has been moved to a different location of the house or garden with a different intensity of light.

If Ivy is accustomed to the shade, then when its moved to a sunny location the leaves tend to look scorched and the plant may look as though it is dying.

Ivy is an adaptable plant that can adjust to an area of more sun but it is best to gradually expose the plant to more sun by moving the pot or container to a sunnier area for a few hours so it can adjust to the differing level of light rather then have to adjust to the contrast from a shady area to a sunny area.

Another consideration is that more sun can increase evaporation from the soil and water loss from the leaves.

To mitigate any potential negative impacts, ensure that your ivy is in a good sized pot or container (as larger pots can retain more moisture) and keep the plant well watered (with a good soak once per week).

Monitor the Ivy for any signs of excessively dry soil and increase the frequency of your watering accordingly and the ivy should recover.

Any excessively scorched or brown foliage can be pruned back to stimulate new growth as badly damaged leaves are unlikely to recover.

Ivy Turning Yellow/Brown and Dying due to Over Watering

Too much moisture at the roots causes your Ivy leaves to turn yellow/brown and the plant to die back.

This can be due to over watering, pots without drainage or a slow draining soil mix.

Excess water in the soil starves the ivy roots of oxygen which turns the leaves yellow and the plant dies.

Ivy requires the potting soil to be lighter, aerated and importantly, well draining as this mimics the soil conditions of its native environment.

Ivy prefers the soil to dry out somewhat between bouts of watering rather then stay consistently damp.

Too much moisture at the roots can be for a few reasons:

  • Pots or containers without drainage holes in the base or saucers collecting water underneath the pot.
  • Watering the ivy too frequently.
  • Compacted or heavy soil which prevents good drainage and reduces the oxygen in the soil.
  • Naturally boggy or low lying areas of the garden if planted outdoors.

Revive Dying Ivy Turning Yellow Due to Over Watering

If you are watering your Ivy every day the you are over watering. Scale back the watering to around once per week as this allows the soil to dry out between bouts of watering.

Ivy should be planted in pots and containers with drainage holes in the base, otherwise the soil quickly becomes saturated.

Sometimes decorative plant pots do not have drainage so transplant your Ivy to a pot with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape.

A very common mistake when growing Ivy is to use a drip tray to catch the excess water that trickles out the base of the pot.

This water collects underneath the pot and the soil stays saturated which mimics a pot without drainage holes, causing the ivy to turn yellow and die back.

If your concerned about watering your ivy indoors then I recommend placing your pot in the sink after watering, using a cloth or perhaps use a saucer but ensure that excess water is not pooling underneath the pot and keeping the soil too damp.

Without water stress the ivy should start to revive, however if the Ivy has been in persistently damp soil for a long time it could have root rot and it is difficult to recover.

Cut back any yellow foliage to promote the growth of healthy green leaves.

(Read my article, why is my ivy turning yellow?)

Ivy Turn Yellow Due to Lack of Fertilizer

Over watering and fungal disease is not the only reason your Ivy plant may have yellow leaves.

Ivy is predominately a foliage plant which requires a good source of nitrogen to stay healthy and green.

If your Ivy is planted in soil with a deficit of nitrogen then the Ivy can stop growing and the leaves can turn yellow and die off.

Ivy can be deficit in nitrogen for a few reasons:

  • If the Ivy has been growing in the same pot for a long time then the roots can exhaust the potting soil of nutrients causing the leaves to turn yellow.
  • If the ivy is planted in a relatively small pot or container then the roots may be pot bound and they cannot access the nitrogen and other nutrients required to grow and for the leaves to stay green.

Revive Ivy in Pots Turning Yellow

To revive potted Ivy that has turned yellow due to a lack of nitrogen in the potting soil you should transplant the Ivy to a larger pot or container with new potting soil.

The new potting soil provides more nutrients so that your Ivy can begin to recover. Also a larger pot contains more potting soil so that the roots have greater access to nitrogen in the soil without being pot bound.

Cut back any yellowing foliage as it is unlikely to recover and pruning helps to stimulate new growth with healthy green leaves.

This improvements can help your ivy to recover however it is best practice to use a fertilizer for the Ivy to help keep the leaves green and the plant healthy.

Use an ordinary house plant fertilizer every 2 months during Spring and Summer to ensure you Ivy has all the nutrients it requires to grow and stay green.

Indoor Potted Ivy Dying

Some other problems that are specific to growing Ivy indoors are:

  • Fluctuating indoor temperatures. Ivy prefers more consistent temperatures so avoid placing your ivy next to a radiator, source of heat or in the air current or forced air or air con as this can dry the ivy out and cause brown leaves and dying foliage.
  • If you live in a very dry climate then spider mites can be a problem. Spider mites tend to be more prevalent in warm and dry homes with climates of low humidity.

Spider mite damage to Ivy leaves typically looks like pin sized yellow spots on your Ivy leaves which eventually turn brown and wilted with a dried out appearance.

The easiest and most effective way to deal with a spider mite infestation is to wash the ivy’s leaves with soapy water from dish washing liquid.

Washing the leaves or using a spray bottle can wash away the spider mites responsible for the damage and prevent them from coming back for a time.

It may takes several washes to completely eradicate the mites if the infestation is severe.

Trim back any significantly affect foliage which should help to stimulate new healthy growth and the Ivy should recover.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason for a dying Ivy is usually because of under watering, too much sun or the pot is too small and the soil dries too quickly which turns the leaves brown and dried out. Over watering and a lack of nutrients turn the Ivy’s leaves yellow.
  • Ivy is a woodland plant that prefers shade and does not always tolerate full sun. Move your Ivy to an area of bright indirect light.
  • Yellow Ivy leaves can be due to low nitrogen, over watering or because of a spider mite infestation. Ivy prefers the soil to dry out between bouts of watering and requires occasional fertilizer for the leaves to stay green. Cut back any yellowing leaves to promote new growth of green leaves.
  • Indoors potted Ivy can suffer due to fluctuations in temperature or air currents. Keep the Ivy in a room where the temperature is consistent and keep the pot away from sources of heat or air conditioning. Ivy is a hardy adaptable species and usually recovers with the right care.

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