How to Care for an Ivy Plant


When referring to ivy, gardeners most often think of English ivy (Hedera helix), the most popularly grown ivy vine in the United States, according to the University of Florida. Landscapers prize the plant for its vigorous growth and it's commonly used as a ground cover or strung along a vertical structure. Give your ivy plant the care it needs for optimal growth to create a lush, green appearance.

Step 1

Cultivate the garden site before planting the ivy. English ivy thrives best in rich and moist soil. Stir in 3 to 4 inches of aged compost to improve the soil condition and help the dirt retain moisture.

Step 2

Plant the English ivy. Backyard gardeners typically plant ivy from seedlings or rooted cuttings, and rarely sow seeds directly in the ground. Whatever your method of propagation, space the plants approximately 2 feet apart, according to Clemson University.

Step 3

Water the ivy plants on an as-needed basis. The vine's extensive root network only needs supplemental watering when there isn't sufficient rainwater to keep the soil moist. Observe the plant for signs of drought stress, including the curling and yellowing of the foliage. When watering, apply water so that the soil is moist to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 4

Fertilize the ivy plant. During its first year, fertilize in the spring, midsummer and fall. After its first year, fertilize only in the spring and fall. The University of Florida recommends using a 15-5-15 or 12-4-8 fertilizer applied according to its labeled guidelines since potency varies by product.

Step 5

Prune the ivy with pruning shears. Ivy grown as a ground cover may occasionally spread to areas in which you don't want it and need to be trimmed back, or may grow higher than you want and need to be pruned closer to the ground. Ivy grown on a wall, trellis or similar structure may also need trimming for aesthetic purposes. Clemson University suggests cutting ivy in the spring to give the plant time to regrow when the plant's growth rate is fastest.

Tips and Warnings

  • All parts of the English ivy vine are poisonous, according to North Carolina State University. Do not ingest the plant as this may cause hallucinations, fever, throat pain and convulsions.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Ivy seedlings or rooted cuttings
  • Fertilizer
  • Water
  • Pruning shears


  • "The Gardener's Guide to Growing Ivies"; Peter Rose; 1996
  • University of Florida: English Ivies to Know and Grow
  • Clemson University: Ivy
  • North Carolina State University: Hedera helix
Keywords: growing ivy plants, ivy vine care, English ivy care

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.