Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Dividing Up English Ivy Plants

English Ivy image by Keith Pinto from

English ivy (Hedera helix) is used as a ground cover, a vining plant to cover walls and other structures or as a container plant. It grows best when given a northern exposure and moist well-drained soil. If the soil where English ivy is planted is waterlogged, the shallow root systems and stems of the plant will rot. English ivy spreads by segmented runners that have an aerial root system between each segment. This aerial root is used by the plant to either attach the plant to a stone or wood structure, or to attach the plant to the ground where it forms roots creating a new plant.

Find the places where the English ivy is rooted into the ground. Simply follow the long stems to a point where they are securely rooted into the ground.

Take a pair of hand held garden shears, and cut the stem behind the areas where they are rooted. Cut halfway between the joints, or nodes, that are rooted into the ground and the next joint. This will leave the long stems you were following and the attached rooted areas. Then, you can trim off any long stems attached to the root systems to a length of 12 inches or more to make moving the root system easier.

Dig the rooted part of the English ivy plant from the ground with a shovel, and transplant to the desired location. Plant the division 2 inches deeper into the ground than where it was previously planted. This prevents dry air from pulling moisture from the root system before it can become established.

Divide the rest of the root system of the English ivy plant by following the remaining stems back to the area where there is extensive growth, such as the area where the original plantings were made. Dig up the complete root balls and pull apart the sections of roots attached to different sections of main growth with your hands. They will come apart easily, and you can plainly see rooted sections of English ivy plants. You can transplant the divided English ivy plants in the new location. Do not allow the root divisions to dry out before they are transplanted.

Garden Guides