In the busy fall cleanup time in the garden, the first freeze can often surprise even the most organized gardener. Most of the time, tasks that have been pre-empted by winter's entry can be finished during a reprieve of warmer fall weather, or in the spring. When houseplants are left out, however, damage may occur. Fortunately, English ivy is not a tropical plant. According to the Chicago Botanic Garden, many of the more than 400 varieties of English ivy are tolerant of extreme conditions. If you leave a pot of this hardy evergreen perennial vine out, it can most often be saved by bringing it in and nursing its injuries.
Bring the pot inside. Tie the pot up in a nylon net bag or top the soil with aluminum foil and slowly submerge the pot in a tub of lukewarm water to hydrate the soil and roots. Remove the pot after a few minutes and allow the water to drain; do not leave the plant soaking in water.
Put the plant in a cool place like a mud room or garage in bright light, but out of direct sun.
Move the plant into the warm house after a week in the mud room. Keep it in bright light, but out of direct sun. Allow the top of the soil to dry between watering; English ivy does not like wet soil.
Examine the plant carefully for dark foliage and dead wood. Prune back 1/3 of the dead vines. If new shoots do not form by the next spring, trim the dead wood back.
Resume the ivy's winter feeding scheme when it recovers its color and begins to set out new shoots. Give it half-strength houseplant food every six to eight weeks until it begins growing in spring, when you can fertilize monthly. Follow the dosage recommendation on the package.