Despite being a notoriously invasive species, with its long vines climbing over gates, property façades, and balconies (even when you don’t want it to), common ivy (referred to as Hedera helix) is surprisingly difficult for many indoor gardeners. Here are some top tips for growing ivy indoors (and ensuring that the vining plant thrives in the process)!
Thanks to its uniquely shaped leaves and trailing nature, ivy is a stunning plant which comes in all kinds of shades of green, white, and yellow. That which you’ll most commonly find for sale in garden centres is also often referred to as ‘English ivy’.
As a houseplant, ivy will make a wonderful addition to your home, provided that it is given adequate care. Unlike when the green plant is grown outside, ivy rarely gets out of hand when grown inside and grows at a much slower rate.
However, many indoor gardeners may also wonder why their ivy is getting brown leaves, or even more commonly still, why the ivy leaves are falling off the vine. In this article, we’ll delve into the most common ivy problems, as well as solutions for growing Hedera helix indoors.
Avoid low humidity
One of the most common causes of a finicky ivy plant is low humidiy. This can cause leaves to drop off and the plant to look a little sad for itself. Central heating is not your friend (particularly in the winter). Furthermore, while many houseplants enjoy warmer temperatures all day ’round, since ivy originates in Europe, it prefers cooler temperatures at night. Misting your plant on a regular basis and grouping it with other ivy plants are other great methods for maintaining high humidity.
Don’t over-water your ivy plant
One of the most common causes of plant death in almost always over-watering. When plant roots sit in water for too long, they can develop root rot, which the plant will almost never recover from. If in doubt, it remains better to under-water the English ivy plant, as opposed to over-watering it. Before watering your plant, check that the top inch or so of the soil is dry. If it’s not, hold off from watering until the top inch of the soil has dried out.
Don’t underwater your ivy plant
Though over-watering is a huge problem among indoor gardeners, particularly those just staring out, conversely you also don’t want to under-water your plant. When a plant is under-watered, it becomes stressed, thus leaving it susceptible to pests, such as spider mites.
Fertilise your plant on a regular basis
Ivies enjoy being fertilised on a fairly regular basis and will do well with a houseplant fertiliser that has been specifically formulated for indoor plants. I personally only ever give the plant half of what is recommend on the pack, so as to avoid root burn.
Ivy enjoys bright indirect light
There’s a common misconception that ivy should be grown in the shade. While this is true in some outdoor conditions, when you’re growing ivy inside your home, it’s an entirely different kettle of fish altogether.
Ivy will fare best in bright, indirect light, such as a short way away from a south-facing window or close to a north-facing window. If the ivy plant does not receive enough light, then it will begin to develop problems such as yellowing leaves.
Wash the Hedera helix leaves on a regular basis
One of the greatest ways to keep your ivy plant’s leaves shiny, healthy, and pest-free is to regularly wash and dust off the leaves. If you don’t do this at least once a week, then your ivy will likely start to suffer due to the dust build up in your home.
English ivy plants are used to a lot of rain and so, once a week, bring the plant in the shower with you for a rinse off. This will also likely knock off any pesky pests which have found their way onto the plant.
Propagating English ivy is incredibly easy!
One of the greatest (and free) methods to grow your plant selection is via propagation. When it comes to propagating Hedera helix, the method simply couldn’t be easier. Just take a cutting of a few inches and place it in water, removing the bottom leaves of the cutting so that they don’t sit in water and rot.
After a few weeks, new roots will form. Once the roots are a few centimetres long, take the cutting and plant them in a suitably sized pot (potting a plant into too large a pot will shock it and can cause plant death). In order to get a full, bushy plant, plant up multiple cuttings in one pot (at least three or four).
Growing ivy indoors is not for everyone!
Last but not least, it’s worth noting that growing ivy indoors is not for everyone. If you are in search of an incredibly easy-grow indoor houseplant which grows in a faster manner, can easily be propagated, and is less susceptible to pests, then I highly recommend the golden pothos plant, which is commonly referred to as ‘Devil’s Ivy’, despite not being a variety of ivy at all!
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