Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Care for English Ivy in the Winter

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017
English ivy, a fast-growing evergreen groundcover, will benefit from protection in cold winter climates.
English Ivy image by Keith Pinto from Fotolia.com

English ivy (Hedera helix) is a fast-growing evergreen perennial that will add a lush, rich appearance to the landscape. Most often used as a ground cover, English ivy will soon grow into a thick, green carpet. The plant does especially well in cool, shady areas under tall trees where nothing else will grow. English ivy is a sturdy plant, but will benefit from protection in climates with cold winters.

Prune English ivy by 1/3 to 1/2 of its height in autumn, using garden shears, hedge pruners or a lawn mower set on the highest setting. Leave at least 3 inches of the plant intact, as shearing the ivy too short can damage the plants.

Water English ivy deeply before the ground freezes in winter, especially if the fall months have been dry. Watering is important, as wet soil will act as an insulator. Don't water the ivy if there is already snow or ice on the ground.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as straw or pine needles around the plants after the ground freezes. Mulch will protect the plants from damage caused by freezing and thawing. If the ivy isn't protected by a snow cover, lay evergreen boughs over the plants. Boughs from a Christmas tree work very well.


Things You Will Need

  • Hedge pruners or a lawn mower
  • Mulch
  • Evergreen boughs


  • English ivy can be aggressive, and if not controlled can do serious damage to the natural environment. To prevent the plant from becoming invasive, keep English ivy maintained and within its boundaries. If you haven't yet planted English ivy, consider planting it in containers.

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.