English Ivy: Plant Care and Growth

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english ivy

Do you know that English Ivy is toxic to both animals and humans?

You may have seen English IVy growing up on the outside wall of some buildings. It is one of the plants you can use as an herbal supplement.

Moreover, you can also grow is as an indoor houseplant.

The potential benefits of this plant include air purification, improving respiratory or breathing issues, and contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Furthermore, people use it as a medicine to help treat asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD.

A lot of people like to grow this plant because it tends to stay green all year.

it also makes an attractive ground cover if you have a decorative garden.

Keep on reading to learn more about English Ivy.

English Ivy

English Ivy or Hedera helix is an evergreen perennial and experts also classify it as a woody vine.

It also acts as a ground cover that tends to spread horizontally.

However, it also has a climbing tendency due to its aerial rootlets which allow them to climb up to 80 feet in height.

Moreover, the plant tends to bear insignificant greenish flowers, but often people grow them for their evergreen leaves.

Thus, gardeners consider it a foliage plant.

english ivy 1

The best time to plant them is during spring. It tends to be a fast, aggressive grower that many gardeners consider invasive in a lot of regions.

It is important to note that you should keep an eye on children and pets as English Ivy is toxic to both humans and animals.

Common Name English ivy, common ivy, European ivy
Botanical Name Hedera helix
Family Araliaceae
Plant Type Perennial, evergreen climbing vine
Mature Size N/A; climbs and spreads as much as possible
Sun Exposure Part shade to full shade
Soil Type Fertile and moist
Soil pH Neutral to slightly alkaline
Bloom Time Fall
Flower Color Greenish-white, greenish-yellow
Hardiness Zones 4-13 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Scandinavia, Russia
Toxicity Toxic to people and pets

Learn more about Do You Know Plants Are a Good Air Purifier? here.

English Ivy Care

Glossy-leafed dark green ivy used to be sacred to the God Dionysus, i.e. Bacchus in Rome in ancient Greeks and Romans.

And pagan druids reflected on ivy in the Christmas carol “The Holy and the Ivy”, where this plant tends to represent divinity.

This plant continues to affect a number of ancient cultures as its evergreen vines physically cover vast areas of Europe without much intervention.

Moreover, the fact that this plant spreads so quickly means that you can use them as a ground cover for filling in hard-to-plant spots in your landscape.

Their aggressive nature shows that they can be effective allies against erosion on hillsides as well.

However, at home or outdoors, English Ivy performs well in containers or baskets where its climbing vines will hang down.

These plants will need protection from winter winds as well as the hot summer sun, so plant accordingly.

Warning: In many areas, gardeners consider English Ivy invasive.

These areas include the Pacific Northwest, California, several Southeast states, and parts of the midwest.

Therefore, before planting them, you should consult a local extension office to make sure they do consider them an invasive species in the area you are living in.

It is important to note that many consider English Ivy to be capable of causing damage to trees and brickwork.

Light and Soil Requirments

English Ivy tends to grow well in partial shade to full sun.

They have the ability to grow in the shade which has made them a traditional ground cover for planting under trees.

This is the area where most grasses do not grow well.

As this plant is vigorous and tends to have a dense growth habit, it is an effective ground cover if you intend to crowd out weeds.

When you ivy indoors they will need bright, indirect light in summer, however, you can also benefit from some direct light in winter.

You will need to grow this evergreen vine in well-drained soil.

Though it will also grow in poor soils and soils of a wide range of pH levels, it will perform well in average loam soil.

Moreover, a thick layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist in dry climates.

When you keep in indoors, you will need to put them in a potting mix that is loose and well-draining.

Learn more about Climbing Plants: 8 Best Plants and Taking Care of Them here.

Water, Temperature, and Other Requirments

When watering your plant, make sure to always check the soil before adding water.

English Ivy tends to be kept in soil that tends to be slightly kept on the dry side.

Therefore, let the soil dry out completely, i.e. dry to the touch on top before you water them.

When you are keeping them indoors or outdoors, they will thrive best in moist but not soggy soil.

Thus, make sure that your plant will have excellent drainage.

You should not keep ivy in standing water or overly wet soil as it can lead to issues.

Moreover, your plant will perform when in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

english ivy 2

Their leaves tend to stay dark green when you grow them at constant temperature and medium to high humidity.

However, it does not like cold winter wind or high summer heat.

In some areas and with some species of ivy, it is possible to keep them in potted pots outdoors in winter and new growth can emerge from the stems in spring.

You will need to feed English ivy every 2 weeks during the spring and summer seasons.

Make sure to use a 20-20-20 fertilizer or a 2-2-2 organic formula fertilizer.

However, never use a fertilizer or plant food if your plant is in stressful conditions like very hot, very cold, or very dry soil.

Avoid feeding your plant when leaf production stops.

Pruning Tips and Techniques

When pruning English ivy make sure to use clean and sharp cutting shear in spring to keep them manageable.

This will also help to discourage bacterial leaf spots.

Moreover, you can prune any ivy into a bushy shape by pinching off its growing tips in spring as well.

A hard pruning after a few ears will help revitalize the plant.

However, if the plant is already climbing the tree, you should be careful when you want to remove them.

It is important that you don’t just rip off the vine as it can hurt the bark of the tree.

Instead, you will need to cut each vine where you find it coming out of the soil at the base of the tree, where it begins.


When cutting off from the earth, the part of the vine that you leave anchoring to the tree bark will eventually wither and die.

This removal technique tends to be the best want to get rid of the vine organically.

However, it will require you to be patient.

Moreover, you will need to go back year after year and cut new growth until all strength saps out of the plant.

Only at this point, the new shoots will stop emerging every spring.

Learn more about Pruning Tips and Techniques

Propagating, Potting, and Repotting English Ivy

With the help of trimmings, or stem cuttings, you take from the process of pruning, you can use them to propagate a new plant.

Take the following steps to do so:

  • use a healthy stem that is about 4 to 5 inches long
  • submerge the cut ends into the water and wait for the roots to develop
  • transfer the stem to a pot or a new ground when the root emerges
  • if you are growing a plant as ground cover, it will naturally spread when stems come in contact with the soil and take root
  • you can also cut the rooted stems and dig them up to move them to a pot or a different garden location

It is important to note that you can have these plants in hanging baskets, and let them cascade over the side.

However, due to their invasive quality, this can be a sensible way to grow the vines for their beauty without worrying about the fact that they can grow and spread out of control.

Moreover, you can repot small English Ivy once a year, while in the case of larger plants, you will need to repot them every two weeks.

Make sure to always repot win a new potting soil to make sure there is enough nutrition

Older plants can use this as a boost to revive by simply replacing the soil in the same container.

Common Pest and Plant Diseases

English ivy tends to be a host to pests like:

  • aphids
  • spider mites
  • mealybugs

Moreover, it also hosts other pests that you can often spray off with water. You can also choose to control them with the help of neem oil or insecticidal soap.

However, one homemade remedy for aphids is that you can spray the foliage of the plant with a mixture of dish soap and water.

Some diseases that can affect your plant are bacterial leaf spots and root rot.

common problems

Leaf spots tend to appear as black or dark brown spots on the plant foliage. However, the best remedy to can make is to remove the affected plant in case of this disease.

You can protect any remaining plants by spraying them with a 10-to-1 mixture of water to vinegar.

Root rot often occurs due to warm and humid weather conditions and can also be fat to your plant.

The best remedy, in this case, is to remove the affected part of the plant.

While you can treat the unaffected plant with a fungicide with protection.

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