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Common ivy, also known as English ivy, European ivy, or Hedera helix (its scientific name) is most often thought of as an aggressive-growing outdoor plant. However, it also makes an excellent (and easy) houseplant! In this post, I’ll review common ivy care and propagation.
Is Ivy a Good Indoor Plant?
Absolutely! Contrary to what some people might think, ivy doesn’t ONLY have to be grown aesthetically crawling up the side of an old building. Ivy makes a great low-maintenance indoor plant, too. We’ll review indoor common ivy care throughout the rest of this post.
Common Ivy Care
Common ivy prefers bright, indirect light—especially variegated varieties. Too much sun can burn the leaves, and while it can survive in lower light, it will grow leggy and won’t be very happy.
Check out my easy guide to natural light for indoor plants for help determining where to place your ivy inside your home. My guide to grow lights for indoor plants will also assist you if you live in a darker home.
Water your ivy when the top inch or so of the soil is dry. Try not to overwater it. Overwatering once is generally fine, but consistent overwatering can lead to root rot.
Common ivy is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Although is it native to some cooler areas, it does do very well with extra humidity. Check out my post on creating humidity for houseplants for an easy, step-by-step guide to different humidity methods.
If for some reason you can’t provide extra humidity, ivy is low maintenance and should be fine in normal humidity levels, too.
As you can imagine, common ivy is a relatively effortless grower, so it doesn’t require much fertilizer. However, you can fertilize your ivy once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) using a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen. (Fertiziliers have an NPK ratio that stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.)
A general rule for repotting ivy is to do so every other year. For younger plants, it’s good to repot them once a year.
If you observe the plant is rootbound (you may notice roots coming through the drainage holes) it’s definitely time to repot it. Repot your ivy in one the next size up from its current post that has drainage. If possible, do this in the spring or summer.
Overtime, you might need to prune your common ivy for the sake of keeping it tidy. Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to make a cut below a leaf. You can snip off any pieces that are too long, out of place, or dying. Ivy is very resilient and won’t mind being pruned.
You can save the pieces you’ve pruned to propagate your ivy! I’ll cover this in the next section.
How Do You Propagate Common Ivy?
Since common ivy grows with such ease, propagating it is very easy. When possible, you should always take a few cuttings to increase your success rate.
Propagating Common Ivy in Water
To propagate common ivy in water, identify a healthy, mature stem. Using a pair of clean, sharp scissors, cut the stem just below a node (the node is where leaves and roots grow from the stem and where new roots will sprout from, which is why it needs to be included).
Place the cuttings in a jar of room-temperature water, making sure at least one node is under the surface of the water and removing any leaves that are under the water. Place the jar in a spot that receives bright, indirect light.
Fill up the water when the level gets lower and replace it when it gets grimy, once a week or so. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can transfer your cuttings to potting mix and give them a good watering as well as some time to adjust to their new home.
Note: It may take one to two months for the roots to grow long enough. Be patient!
Propagating Common Ivy in Potting Mix
To propagate common ivy in potting mix, repeat the first step I described in the previous section. Here it is again: Identify a healthy, mature stem. Using a pair of clean, sharp scissors, cut the stem just below a node (the node is where leaves and roots grow from the stem and where new roots will sprout from, which is why it needs to be included).
Instead of putting the cuttings in a jar of water, plant them into a pot with potting mix, making sure at least one node is under the surface of the mix and removing any leaves that would be buried under the surface.
Give the cuttings a good watering and place them in a location with bright, indirect light. To help lock in beneficial humidity, place a clear plastic bag over the top of the pot. Remove it for a little every few days to let in fresh air. Keep the potting mix moist but not wet.
After about a month, give your ivy cuttings a VERY gentle tug. If there is resistance, the root system has developed and you can treat your ivy like a normal plant! Your cuttings might need a little longer than a month. If they do, that’s OK too!
Is Common Ivy Poisonous?
Yes, common ivy is toxic, so be sure to keep it out of your furry friends’ curious reach!
Where Can I Buy Common Ivy?
Common ivy is very, well…common! You can find it at many garden centers. It will most likely be sold as an outdoor plant so keep that in mind as you’re browsing around. You can also find common ivy on Etsy. Personally, Etsy is my top source for buying houseplants online because there is just such a huge variety of plants sold by small businesses all over the world! You can find common ivy/English ivy/Hedera helix on Etsy here.
How Fast Does Common Ivy Grow?
Although ivy is easy to care for, it doesn’t grow as fast indoors as it does outdoors. As a houseplant, it will grow about as fast as any of your other fast-growing houseplants. Think of the pothos, for example, which can grow a few feet a year in optimal conditions. In perfect conditions, you can expect a healthy common ivy plant to grow a few feet a year indoors. If it’s a young plant, it will take a few years for it to reach its fastest growth rate.