How to Water Ivy Plants

Why is my ivy turning yellow

Water ivy plants with a generous soak when the top inch of the soil is drying out. Mist the ivy’s leaves with water once per week if indoors to increase humidity. Typically water ivy once every 7 days meets the ivy’s watering requirements to keep the leaves green and avoid root rot, but this can vary due to climate.

Keep reading for how to establish the optimal watering frequency for ivy in your home or garden and for all the best watering practices for growing ivy plants…

How Often To Water Ivy Plants (Indoors and Outdoors)

Ivy plants are adapted to growing in woodlands and forests in well draining relatively moist soil with some shelter from direct winds and some humidity.

Ivy is very adaptable and can grow in many different environments but they prefer soil that is rich in organic matter and evenly moist, yet dries out slightly between bouts of watering.

If the soil dries out completely or the humidity is too low then the ivy can develop brown leaf margins as a sign of drought stress. If the soil is too damp or saturated the ivy leaves turn yellow and fall off.

To water ivy successfully, indoors or outdoors it is important to recreate the water cycle and the typical soil moisture levels of their native environment.

Water ivy plants with a generous soak then allow the top inch of the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. Typically this means watering your ivy once a week in the Spring and Summer and once every 2 weeks in the Winter.

Waiting for the top inch of the soil to dry before watering your ivy applies whether your ivy is indoors or outdoors.

Indoors it is often necessary to mist the ivy leaves with water as the air in our homes can be very dry, particualrly with air conditioing or sources of heat in Winter.

Misting once a week helps to reduce water loss from the leaves and creates a slightly humid micro-climate that replicates the conditions of the ivy’s native woodland habitat.

It should be noted there are several factors which can determine how often ivy should be watered such as:

  • The humidity and temperature range of your climate.
  • The size of the pot or container (smaller pots and containers can dry out much quicker then larger pots).
  • Whether the ivy is in an open exposed windy area outdoors or in the air current of air conditioning and near to sources of heat when indoors.
  • The capacity of the potting soil to retain moisture.

To establish how often to water your ivy according to your specific climate and conditions, feel the top inch of the soil with your finger to detect the level of soil moisture. If the soil feels moist then delay watering. If the soil feels as though it is starting to dry out, this is the perfect time to water with a generous soak.

Once you know how long it typically takes for the top inch of your potting soil to dry you can establish a consistent watering schedule to keep your ivy plant healthy whether indoors or outdoors.

How to Know When Ivy plants Need Water

If your Ivy is drought stress or under watered then this first and most obvious symotm is the leaves turning brown.

The Ivy leaves can turn brown at the leaf margins due to low humidity or the whole leaf can turn brown, dry and crispy due to a lack of water.

If the Ivy is in soil that has dried out completely, eventually the leaves start to drop.

As soon as you seen these symptoms water your ivy with a generous soak and mist the leaves. Ideally place the ivy’s pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes or so, to allow water to infiltrate the soil completely so that the roots can uptake the moisture the desperately require.

Misting the leaves once per week can help the ivy to recover after drought stress.

(For more on how to save ivy plants, read my article, how to revive a dying ivy plant).

Symptoms of Ivy Plants that are Over Watered

Ivy plants that have too much water around their root ball turn yellow with their leaves dropping off.

Too much water around the ivy’s root ball can be due to watering too often, slow draining soils or pots without proper drainage.

Ivy requires well draining soil and the roots do not tolerate being in damp or boggy soil. Too much water in the soil excludes oxygen and prevents root respiration which interferes with the roots ability to uptake nutrients and water, causing the yellow leaves.

Soil that is satuatred also promotes the conditions for root rot which causes the ivy plant to die back.

Ivy is a hardy plant but it is much easier for an ivy plant to recover form drought then it is to recover from a period of over watering so if in doubt, keep the soil, slightly on the dry side.

(To learn how to save yellow ivy plants, read my article, why is my ivy turning yellow?)

Method For Watering Ivy

Whilst the variability of climate, temperature, humidity and whether your ivy is indoors or outdoors can all affect how often your should water you ivy plant, the method for watering stays the same.

Water your ivy with a good soak, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot.

Watering this way with a good soak, ensures that the water has infiltrated all the potting soil so that it is evenly moist and the roots can uptake the moisture they require.

Watering the soil too lightly results in only the top inch or so of the soil being moist and the water does not reach the roots further down in the soil where it is needed, which can result in ivy leaves that turn brown, crispy and dry as a result of drought stress.

Watering with a good soak, so that all the potting soil is consistently moist recreates the level of soil moisture that ivy plants typically experience in their native woodland habitat.

Well Draining Potting Soil Prevents Ivy Dying of Over Watering

Watering ivy properly so that the plant is healthy is only possible if the ivy is planted in the appropriate, well draining potting soil to avoid root rot from too much moisture around the root ball or due to slow draining soils.

For best results, plant ivy in 3 parts ordinary potting soil to once part perlite for added drainage and good soil structure.

Ivy is hardy and adaptable so almost any good potting soil is appropriate for ivy but adding perlite ensures that the soil stays porous so that water can infiltrate properly and oxygen can reach the roots for root respiration.

If the soil is too compacted rather then a light structure, then this can cause water to pool around the roots of your ivy and exclude oxygen which causes the leaves to turn yellow and the ivy can die back.

With right soil mix it is much easier to maintain the perfect moisture balance for ivy plants and prevent any affects of over watering to keep your plant healthy.

Water Ivy Plants in Pots With Good Drainage

Ivy plants do not tolerate having their roots in saturated soil for a long period, so it is very important that your pot or container has a drainage hole in the base to allow excess water to drain away from the roots.

Watering with a good soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot is also the best method for watering ivy plants to ensure the soil is evenly moist and that all the roots have access to the moisture they require.

If your ivy is in a pot without drainage then water pools around the roots causing root rot and your ivy plant dies back.

Water can still pool around the roots in your pot if:

  • The drainage hole in the base of the pot becomes blocked with roots or compacted soil. If you notice your soil draining slowly then it is worth checking to see whether you should clear the hole in the base to allow water to escape properly.
  • Saucers and trays underneath your pots. Saucers or trays underneath your plant pot to prevent water spilling in your home but you should empty the saucer or tray regularly to prevent water collecting and keeping the soil too damp for your ivy plant.
  • Decorative outer pots. Ivy plants are sometimes sold with decorative outer pots that do not have drainage holes in their base which prevents water escaping and keeps the soil damp causing root rot, so either empty the pot of water regularly or plant in a pot with drainage holes in the base.

(Read my article, how to revive ivy with brown leaves).

Key Takeaways:

  • Water ivy plants with a generous soak once every 7 days in during active growth in the Spring and Summer and once every 10 days during Winter. Mist the leaves with water once per week to increase humidity and slow water loss from the ivy’s leaves.
  • Ivy plants should be planted in well draining potting soil, ideally amended with perlite for improved drainage to prevent root rot and to emulate the soil conditions and levels of soil moisture of the ivy’s native environment.
  • Plant ivy in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent excess water pooling around the roots which causes root rot.
  • The symptoms of under watered ivy plants are leaves turning brown, dry and crispy whereas over watered ivy causes the leaves to turn yellow. Water ivy plants with a generous soak when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Typically watering once per week is the optimal amount for ivy plants indoors and outdoors.

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