Lavishly decorative and elegant, you’ve probably seen this plant spread its vines on building exteriors. But English ivy can just as well be grown indoors, where its dangling vines can decorate shelves or other elaborate displays.
English ivy or Hedera Helix can be found in most European countries and in Western Asia.
It’s not only and elegant decorative plant, it’s also a functional plant that can help regulate interior temperature by keeping buildings cooler during summer and warmer in the winter. It even protects the facade of buildings from the corrosive effects of the elements.
If you want to grow English ivy indoors, my guide will walk you through all its requirements.
English Ivy Plant Care Tips
Here are the basics of caring for English ivy plant if you’re considering growing it indoors.
Considering that this is a fast-growing plant that can reach several feet both in width and height, you should be prepared to regularly prune your plant to prevent it from becoming too long or leggy.
Bright light is essential to this plant, just make sure it’s not direct sunlight because that will end up burning the leaves of your English ivy.
An English ivy that is stretchy and leggy, or prone to diseases may not be getting enough light.
Some English ivy plants are variegated and lose their variegation if they’re not exposed to enough light.
Moving this plant outdoors comes with some caveats. For starters, it’s a fast-growing species that’s considered invasive in some places. Growing it outdoors may be even illegal in your country or region, so check local legislation before you plant it outside.
English ivy isn’t a thirsty plant, so you can allow the top inch of soil to dry out before you water it.
This plant can benefit from periodic washing of the leaves to remove dirt, dust and potential pests from the leaves.
You can place the plant in the shower and let it under running water for a couple of minutes or take it outside and wash it with a watering can.
Never let the plant have very moist soil because it can cause root rot, which will destroy your plant.
Temperature & Humidity
English ivy does well in cool temperatures that range from 50 °F at night to 60-65 °F during the day.
The plant does enjoy some humidity, so misting the plant can help increase humidity levels in homes that are too dry.
All-purpose potting soil in a container with good drainage is fine for the English ivy. Just make sure the soil is not too moist and that you don’t overwater the plant.
English ivy will benefit from fertilizing about once a month in spring, summer and fall.
I recommend being stingy with the fertilizer as excess fertilizer will hurt the plant. Ideally, you should use a balanced fertilizer like the one from Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food.
Potting & Repotting
With time, your English ivy will outgrow its pot and you’ll need to plant it into a different pot.
When transferring your English ivy plant to a different pot, make sure it’s at least 2 inches bigger than the current pot you’re growing it.
English Ivy Plant Propagation
If you want to propagate your English ivy plant, you can do so by rooting plant cuttings. The best time to take stem cuttings is during the plant’s active growth period, that is, during late spring or summer.
Here’s what you need to do to propagate an English ivy plant from stem cuttings:
- Prepare a planting medium in a container with good drainage. The planting medium should be coarse sand or perlite.
- Mist the planting medium or soak it in water and let it drain, until the soil is moist but not waterlogged.
- Create several planting holes in the moist medium.
- Examine your English ivy plant and look for a growth that is slightly woody but still flexible. Growths that snap easily because they’re too woody are a bit too old and may not root as well as younger growths do.
- Pick several cuttings and cut the vines just below the nodes making sure the stem cuttings are at least 4 or 5 inches in length.
- Clear the leaves on the bottom half of each stem.
- Using rooting hormone to stimulate root growth is not is not compulsory but it can maximize the chances of rooting. Simply dip the bottom inch of the stem cutting into rooting hormone.
- Plant the stem cuttings into the designated holes and firm the soil around the stems.
- Make sure the plants aren’t touching to prevent rotting.
- Use a clear plastic bag or container to cover the stem cutting to create a greenhouse-like effect, which will stimulate rooting and growth.
In a couple of weeks, your English ivy stem cuttings will start rooting and you’ll have yourself several new plants that you can display in other locations in your home or gift them away.
Different Types of English Ivy Plants
The English ivy plant is one of the most commonly planted ones in both Europe and the U.S. There are over 400 English ivy cultivars and some of the most popular ones include:
This is a variegated English ivy that has curly leaves with yellow margins. The lobes of the leaves are much less pronounced compared to other varieties.
I enjoy this variety because of its elegant leaves that feature 3-5 lobes that are sharply pointed. The leaves are smaller compared to the base variety and grow closer together.
The leaves are dark green and look extremely appealing as groundcover or as a clinging vine on a stone wall.
The leaves of this variety are broad and dark, featuring 5 lobes that are curled on its edges and have a cupped, wavy appearance. It’s great as an ornamental plant both indoors and outdoors.
The leaves of the Tripod English ivy variety feature 3 lobes that are long and slender. The plant is also named ‘arrowhead’ ivy.
The Goldchild is a variegated English ivy variety that features grey-green leaves with yellow edges. Goldchild is a popular variety that was awarded Ivy of the Year title by The American Ivy Society in 2011.
Apart from the hundreds of English ivy cultivars, there are even more ivy types that you can grow indoors or outdoors.
Here are some ivy varieties that are worth your attention:
Also known as the Himalayan ivy, this ivy variety is native Nepal, Vietnam, India, China, Myanmar, and Thailand. The plant grows at high altitudes and it’s tolerant to cold temperatures. It’s mostly grown outside, in public places.
Another ivy variety that tolerates cold climates. It’s native to Iran, Armenia, and Russia. The leaves are a brighter shade of green and have slightly rounded shape going into a deep point.
Native to East Asia, this ivy grows predominantly in forests and woodlands. The leaves of the Japanese ivy foliage are rhombus-shaped, they’re glossy green colored with purple stems.
The Irish ivy is closely related to the English ivy so much so that they’re often difficult to tell them apart. The leaves of the Irish ivy feature 5 lobes, they’re a glossy green with pale veins.
English Ivy FAQ
Do you have some unanswered questions about the English ivy? See if I’ve answered them below:
Is the English ivy toxic to pets?
Yes, the English ivy is toxic to pets and even to livestock, so it’s understandable that is illegal to grow it in certain regions.
Are the berries produced by English ivy edible?
No, the blue-black berries produced by the English ivy are not edible and can cause gastrointestinal distress and breathing difficulties if ingested.
My English ivy lost its variegation? What happened?
This is a common complaint with variegated English ivy cultivars and the solution to this problem is simple – your plant needs more sunlight.
How long does the English ivy plant live?
English ivy plants have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years.
English ivy plants make great ornamental plants both for indoor displays and buildings or stone walls. These plants grow and spread quickly, so occasional pruning will be needed if the plants are grown indoors.
Because of its excellent climbing abilities, English ivy is a great plant for landscaping, but it can easily become an invasive species, so trimming it along sidewalks and other pathways is required.
You can also trim it to create desired shapes or to keep it from climbing to areas you don’t want them to climb (e.g. windows).
All in all, the English ivy is a versatile ornamental plant that has many different cultivars. The plant is easy to grow and tend to, although trimming-related maintenance is crucial to prevent the plant from becoming invasive.
I hope my article on English ivy plant care has answered most of your concerns related to the indoor growing requirements of this plant.