The Q&A Archives: Ivy Dying Over Winter (zon 6)

Question: We have a large (2ft+ diam) plastic container (round) infront of our house which in summer is shaded by an oak. We have a hosta, ivy and some spring bulbs planted in the pot. For the first few yaers we live here the ivy was very hearty and hardy and did beautifully overwinter. The first winter after I planted teh bulbss (1999-2000) the ivy died over teh winter. We replaced it last year and again it has died this winter: stems are mostly brown and dried and the most distal leaves also are all brown and dried out and seems nonvigourous. It looks like I will have to replace it this year as well. The point here is to have a yearround perennial thing in there. Could it be the lime/low pH for the bulbs has hurt the ivy? The last 2 winters don't seem to be different than previous ones. Any sugggestions. I would rather have the ivy/hosta and forgo the bulbs, if necessary. Is there anyway to bring the ivy back> Should I change the soil in the container?
jane kauer

Answer: It is usually a good idea to renew the soil in a container every year because the soil structure deteriorates and the soil becomes exhausted over time. This is in part due to the constant watering and in part because it is isolated from the natural processes of renewal. For this reason you might want to reset the ivy plant or replace it with a vigorous new one each spring.

I would expect ivy (Hedera helix) to be hardy in a large sized container, especially if it is not allowed to dry out during the fall or during a warm spell in the winter. (The bulbs on the other hand will suffer if the soil is excessively moist, so you might want to plant them in a separate container.

Your reference to pH is a bit confusing in that average potting soil should not need to be adjusted with lime for bulbs. If you caused a large shift in pH this could have possibly shocked the ivy planting.

Finally, in a windy season you may see ivy showing symptoms of winter burn, where the foliage looks terrible but the plant is not really dead. If this is the case, there should be new growth this spring to conceal the deteriorated foliage.

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