The Q&A Archives: caring for Ivy

Question: Please give complete instructions for caring for ivy plants. I recently bought a small ivy plant form a local garden center. The care instructions on the plant label say to grow in indirect light, and moderately moist soil what does this mean exactly? Would it be okay to place the pot on a table near my east or west-facing window? Or, should I choose another location. Can ivy be grown on top of my kitchen counter/cabinets? Please tell me the water,soil, lighting and fertilizer requirements for ivy. Also, is it okay to put a trellis in the pot to help the plant climb. I would like for it to climb:] Can it climb indoors, or is it best to let it trail?


Answer: English ivy or Hedera helix is an easy to grow houseplant and tolerates a range of growing conditions. An east or north facing window would be great, a west or south window would be fine but you should add a sheer curtain to filter the hot afternoon sun. It grows faster with more light so a bright location is better than a dim one, but it does not need direct sun hitting it. Evenly moist is like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet or saturated. Allow the surface to dry somewhat between waterings but do not let the soil dry out completely. (The plant should never wilt due to dry soil.) Water deeply so it soaks into the soil, allow any excess to drain out and empty the saucer under the pot. You would not water every day, that would be too often, but there is no set schedule. How often to water will depend on the ambient temperature, if there are drafts, if the heating system or air conditioning system is running, the type of soil, the size of the plant in relation to the pot. You may want to fertilize it with a water soluble fertilizer such as 10-10-10 plus minors or similar proportions, read and follow the label instructions. You can add a trellis and direct the tips through it, or allow it to trail, or set some on the trellis and let the rest drape. You can also train it on a topiary frame. Ivy is self clinging so it could grow up and attach itself to the wall -- but the hairy roots are very difficult to remove from the wall if you ever need to repaint. Enjoy our new plant!

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