How to grow and care for German Ivy Indoors

Houseplant, German Ivy

Botanical name: Senecio mikanioides
Synonym: Delairea odorata
Family: Asteraceae

German Ivy also called Cape Ivy or Parlour Ivy is not a True Ivy. It is more vigorous and is less affected by warm and dry conditions than a true ivy. The leaf lobes in German Ivy are fleshier and generally more pointed and the leaves have several pointed lobes. The stems of this plant either trail like in hanging baskets or are trained up canes or trellis. Apart from being an ideal foliage houseplant, the plant also produces clusters of bright yellow daisy-like flowers through out the growing season. German Ivy is native to South Africa where it grows as a vine that climbs up trees and can reach a height of 5 m. in the wild. It grows from a hardy underground rhizomes which may be difficult to control. Due to this invasive nature, it is not recommended to be planted in the ground and given time, it will smoother trees. To control its growth when grown indoors, regularly pinch the growing tips to encourage bushyness and to prevent it from becoming unruly. Destroy the underground rhizomes before discarding as they easily resprout.

How to Grow German Ivy

Light

German Ivy prefers bright light or light shade 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

Water German Ivy thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

German Ivy prefers average warmth with a minimum of 180C. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

German Ivy has no need for high humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves under a stream of running water to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation.

Feeding

Feed German Ivy every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding during the cold season. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot German Ivy every 2-3 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

Pruning German 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.

How to Propagate German Ivy

German Ivy is propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings. They root easily so there is no need for rooting hormone. Rooting can be done in 3 ways:

Propagating German Ivy in soil
Take stem cuttings of about 4-5 in. length and insert 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 German Ivy 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 German 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.

Common Problems in Growing German Ivy

  • Brown leaves with curled edges
  • Waterlogging German Ivy will cause brown leaves and curled edges. Ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole. Water only when the top 2 in. of soil have dried out and reduce watering during the cold season. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Drooping leaves
  • Underwatering German Ivy will cause the leaves to droop. Water the plant immediately it starts drooping and it should perk up. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely, only slightly before watering German Ivy.

    Undersized leaves and spindly growth

    If German Ivy receives too little light the leaves will be small and the growth is spindly. Move the plant to a brighter spot; German Ivy prefers bright light or light shade away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in German Ivy are Mealy Bugs and Aphids.

  • Diseases
  • Common diseases in German Ivy are Leaf Spot and Root-rot which is prevalent in too wet conditions.

Toxicity

German Ivy (Senecio mikanioides) is toxic 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.

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