The botanical name for the English ivy plant is Hedera helix. It is an extremely popular houseplant because of its wiry stems and small, lobed leaves which give it an attractive look. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors. When indoors, it is kept in a suspended pail or potted in a regular clay pot. In outdoor landscapes, when it is allowed to creep over walls, arbors, or fences, it looks very beautiful. With proper care, these attractive ornamental plants can be kept in the house for several years.

English Ivy Care Instructions

The English ivy plant is propagated from cuttings obtained from the tip of its stem. It should be planted in an all-purpose potting mix with good drainage. The temperature requirements for this plant is cold to room temperature in the 50-70°F range (be careful not to subject it to varying temperature changes, but a constant one; air-conditioning exposure isn't good, so keep the plant away from it). It should be placed in one such location where it should receive indirect and not direct sunlight, since it is not suitable for the plant if you want it to thrive. When grown indoors, it should be kept near a west- or south-facing window. Here are some essential tips on how to care for an English Ivy.

Soon after it is planted, the English ivy requires frequent yet moderate watering. During this time, it should be given one inch of water every week. Once its roots are established into the soil, water the plant only when the soil turns dry. Put your fingers into the soil, if it feels dry, then only water your plant. During the winter, it does not require much watering, where warmer temperatures call for additional water supply.

Mulch the soil around the newly planted English ivy with chopped leaves or wood chips. The thickness of the layer of mulch should be between 2-4 inches. There are several advantages of mulching―it facilitates weed control which can cause harm to the roots of the plant. It helps to keep the soil temperature low, and also retains soil moisture. The English ivy should be mulched in the first two years only. Once its rich, dense foliage grows and covers up the soil, no mulching is needed.

You have to add fertilizer to the soil twice a year. In the first year, the soil should be fertilized once in the summer and then again during autumn. From the second year, it should be fertilized during spring and autumn. A slow-releasing nitrogen fertilizer is best-suited for the English ivy. When the plant has a full-grown foliage, you have to be extra careful while adding fertilizer to the soil so that the fertilizer does not come in contact with the leaves of the plant. Read the label of the fertilizer for the recommended dosage. Use only a small amount of fertilizer, since excessive fertilizing can cause fungal diseases.

Pruning helps to keep the growth of the plant confined to one area. Those varieties of English ivy that tend to grow wild, do not require much pruning as it gives it a thick, dense foliage, that looks attractive. However, those which grow from shoots need frequent pruning. During its active growing season, you may have to prune them 3 to 4 times. Prune the plant in such a way that the growth of the plant is in the direction where it can climb on support structures.

English ivy is susceptible to red spider mite attacks. They are not easily visible but can cause substantial damage to the leaves of the plant. If you notice any signs of damage on the leaves, cut it off immediately and spray pesticide on the plant. Soft water should be sprayed on the English Ivy once a week to keep pesky red spider mites at bay.

Indoor plants need more fertilizing than outdoor, and should be used after a gap of two months. Mix one teaspoon of a balanced, nitrogen-rich, fertilizer in a gallon of water and then add it to the soil, being careful not to bring it into contact with the leaves. Avoid fertilizing the English Ivy in the winter, since the plant lies inactive and only requires fertilizing during summer and spring.