Gardeners grow English ivy as an ornamental ground cover or climbing vine. These graceful plants require regular pruning to control rampant growth and encroachment over windows, door and other plantings. English ivy grows well in cool climates, preferring temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These shade-loving vines perform well in containers when designers want the beauty of trailing vines. Gardeners commonly use English ivy in topiaries, as this vine trains quite easily. Learning how to prune English ivy requires an evaluation of how you prefer the plant to grow.
Observe the health of the ivy plant. Look for areas containing dead or dying leaves, as well as leggy areas with more vines than leaves. This could indicate harsh winter conditions that damaged the plant. Perform pruning in the spring for optimum growth during the warmer months of the year. Minor amounts of control pruning can be done at any time during the year.
Trim off dead leaves and vines with sharp clippers. Cuts should be made close to where the vine branch joins another branch. Removing dead areas first will help you decide how much of the remainder of the plant should be pruned.
Decide how much growth should be controlled on the plant. English ivy can grow rampant, covering windows, doorways and smothering other plants. Ivy plants tend to grow well in optimum conditions, so a spreading plant probably loves its current location.
Prune back sections of the English ivy vine to the nearest main stem. Trailing branches can head off into any direction. Be patient and remove one vine at a time to avoid giving the plant a sheared appearance. This will help you avoid over pruning the plant.
Clip the ends of vine sections to encourage new branch formation. Limit the use of tip pruning unless you want to encourage spreading growth of the English ivy vine. This method works well to fill in blank areas on arbor-grown ivy plants.