Botanical name: Hedera helix
English Ivy is a popular houseplant for a hanging basket or as a climber. It is easy to grow and easily adapts to a wide range of growing conditions. It is native to most of Europe and Western Asia. In its native habitat, it is a rampant clinging evergreen vine found in gardens, waste spaces, on walls, tree trunks and in wild areas. The plant grows slowly in the first 2 years of establishment. Once well established, it grows vigorously and can quickly cover walls, trellis, fences, trees and other places it can climb or trail. English Ivy is useful as screens on a trellis or in covering unattractive spots in the home or office. It can also be used as ground covers under trees where grass cannot grow. According to a study carried out by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Hedera helix was found to get rid of common VOCs like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toulene and trichloroethylene from indoor air.
The general form of English Ivy is the characteristically lobed leaves. There are many variations on the basic pattern. The leaf edges are smooth or ruffled and colors vary from simple green to complex mixtures of white, cream, grey and yellow. One drawback of English Ivy is that it can be invasive in some regions. Due to its aggressive nature, it can choke out some native species. Take caution when growing this plant and find out if it is acceptable in your region.
English Ivy prefers bright light conditions. However, keep it away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight may cause scorching. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants
Water English Ivy thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry a little between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
English Ivy prefers a cool temperature between 12-200C. Protect it from cold and hot draughts. Though it can adapt a wide range of temperatures, constantly high temperatures can damage the plant. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
English Ivy has no need for high humidity. However, for lush growth and to reduce pest infestation, mist the leaves frequently or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves under a stream of running water to get rid of dust.
Feed English Ivy monthly during the growing season with a nitrogen-rich water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot English Ivy every two years during the growing period. Use a pot which is 1 size larger and loose free-draining soil. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging.
Pruning English Ivy involves removal of yellow and dead leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy and compact growth, pinch off the growing tips. The tips can be used to propagate new plants. Cut back leggy stems to rejuvenate growth. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.
English Ivy is propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings. They root easily so there is no need for rooting hormone. Rooting can be done in 3 ways:
Propagating English Ivy from stem cuttings in soil
Take stem cuttings of about 4-5 in. length and insert them in moist rooting soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges and substantial growth has been observed. Transfer to individual pots and begin routine care. For a fuller plant plant several cuttings in one pot.
Propagating English Ivy from stem cuttings in water
Take cuttings of about 4-5 in. length, place them in a jar of plain water until a good amount of roots have formed and then plant in moist potting soil. Place in warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth has emerged and substantial growth has been observed. Transfer to individual pots and begin routine care. Several cuttings can be planted in one pot for a fuller plant.
Propagating English Ivy by spreading the stems on the soil
Spread the stems on the soil surface while still attached to the mother plant. They will root at every point they come into contact with the soil. Once rooted, sever the stems, dig them up and pot in moist soil in individual pots. Place in a shaded cool place and maintain the soil moist until well established.
If English Ivy receives too little light the leaves will be small and the growth is spindly. Move the plant to a brighter spot; English Ivy prefers bright light away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants. Naturally, the mature leaves at the base of the plant will drop with age; cut back the bare stems to rejuvenate growth.
This is a sign of Spider Mites due to the air being too dry. Mist leaves regularly or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity to discourage the pest and remove dead growth to reduce pest infestation.
Too little light is the reason for loss of variegation in variegated English Ivy; move the plant to a brighter spot. Another reason for loss of variegation is inadequate growth space if the plant is pot-bound; repot the plant every two years in a pot 1 size larger than the current one.
English Ivy (Hedera helix) is poisonous to both humans and pets. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Keep it away from the reach of children and pets.