The Q&A Archives: Leaves of English Ivy Turning Brown

Question: The leaves of my needlepoint English Ivy are turning brown. The plant is in a small container. Too much water or not enough? Would this plant do well indoors under fluorescent lighting?


The most probable cause is overwatering. In a small container, overwatering is not as common because the plant roots usually fill the container and quickly "drink up" the water. In a large container, the limited root volume of a small plant cannot quickly uptake the water, resulting in a long period of soggy conditions. This can cause root rots which quickly show up as problems with the above ground plant parts.

Water well and then wait until it dries a bit to rewater. It is better to let them get a bit dry between waterings than to overwater.

Another possible cause is a fungal or bacterial infection. Remove the affected parts and avoid too much water.

Your ivy can be grown under fuorescent lights. The key is to get them enough light. It is difficult to provide enough footcandles of light (the way light intensity is measured) indoors. A two bulb fluorescent fixture a few inches above the plants will be enough if no natural light is present. In a very bright room, or near a window, the plants may do alright without the fixture. Watch them for weak, spindly, pale growth, a sign of low light.

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