How to Start Ivy Plants


Native to tropical South Africa, German ivy (also known as cape ivy) thrives as a houseplant in the average home, making it a popular plant grown inside during the winter and added to window boxes, hanging baskets and planters during the summer. This trailing foliage plant produces waxy green or variegated green and yellow leaves with six pointed lobes. English ivy is similar in appearance with hardier leaves, can be trained to climb trellises or fences and is used in window boxes and hanging baskets. Greenhouses and homeowners often propagate ivies during the winter to create multiple plants for outside containers in the summer.

Step 1

Select a 4- to 6-inch terminal end of the ivy. Look for healthy firm stems with rich green foliage. New growth roots quicker than old growth. Avoid stems that are woody or dark brown.

Step 2

Cut the stem 1/4 to 1/2 inch below a leaf node (the point where the leaf grows from the stem). This area contains high levels or growth hormones and promotes rapid root formation.

Step 3

Remove foliage from the bottom 2 inches of the stem.

Step 4

Pour rooting compound into a paper cup and dip the bottom inch of the cutting in the powder. Tap the cutting against the side of the cup to remove excess powder. Dipping the cutting into the original container can introduce disease contaminating your rooting powder.

Step 5

Plant the cutting in a 2- to 4-inch pot filled with seed starter or lightweight growing medium. Insert to the level of the rooting compound on the stem. Make your own soil mixture with one part all-purpose potting soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite.

Step 6

Water to moisten the soil and place in a warm area that receives filtered light. Keep soil moist, but avoid soggy soil.

Step 7

Test for root formation in a week or two by gently tugging on the cutting. If it resists your efforts, roots have formed.

Step 8

Apply water-soluble fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength once a week to encourage vigorous new growth.

Step 9

Pinch out center leaves when plants are 4 to 6 inches tall to encourage branching and dense compact growth.

Step 10

Transplant to window boxes or planters in spring after the danger of frost has passed in your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Paper cup
  • Rooting compound
  • Plant pots
  • Growing medium (all-purpose potting soil, peat moss, perlite)
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • San Francisco State University: The Biogeography of Cape Ivy
  • University of Missouri Extension: Home Propagation of Houseplants
  • NC State University: Plant Propagation by leaf, Cane and Root Cuttings

Who Can Help

  • University of Arizona Extension: Plant Propagation
Keywords: ivy stem cuttings, root ivies, propagate ivies, start ivies

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.