How to Grow English Ivy

Updated on August 24, 2019
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.

English ivy thrives best in cool, shady locations with rich, organic soil. As ground cover, English ivy can grow six to nine inches in height and up to 90 feet in length. When used as a climber, English ivy can grow up to 50 feet tall, thanks to their aerial rootlets.

Alternatively, some homeowners choose to plant English ivy in a hanging basic and let the vines drape down the sides. This option allows a homeowner to enjoy the beauty of the leafy plant without having to worry about suffering from an invasive plant.

Planting Instructions

  1. Dig a hole slightly larger than the container you'll be planting from.
  2. Space ivy 12 inches to 24 inches apart; space plants closer together for quick coverage, or up to 24 inches for a more natural, thinner look.
  3. Spread vines out in the direction you wish them to grow. For climbers, prop the vines up against the item you'd like to cover. You may need to create a "ladder" of string to help the ivy grow upward.
  4. Water the new plant in thoroughly.
  5. Monitor soil moisture levels as the plant matures, particularly while the plant is actively growing. Ivy vines grow best with adequate moisture, but can withstand dry spells once completely established.
  6. Fertilize plants with a diluted liquid fertilizer only if you think plants need extra care, or if it looks stressed.
  7. Cut back ivy growing in undesirable locations close to the soil line. Wait until the vine has withered back before removing it from the surface of tree or structure. Ripping the ivy off while it is still thriving may damage structures, including damagingbark of trees or paint off walls.

How to Grow from a Cutting

  1. Cut 4 to 5 inches off a healthy English ivy plant, using sterilized scissors. Look for a stem that is slightly woody, but still flexible. Ensure that you cut just below a node.
  2. Dip the bottom inch of the cutting in growth hormone.
  3. Place the cutting in a glass of water, and set it aside in a sunny location.
  4. Observe the cutting until you notice white hair-like roots growing at least half an inch to one inch long.
  5. Transplant the growing cutting to well-draining soil in a pot. Avoid placing the pot in a location with direct sunlight until the plant has established, approximately three to six weeks.
  6. Moisten soil with a spray bottle to keep it moistened but not soggy.
  7. Transplant ivy outdoors once the plant is larger, approximately a few weeks.


When used in the home, English ivy makes a great natural air purifier. Keep English ivy healthy by spraying the leaves with water once a week. Not only does this added moisture help keep the leaves dust-free, but it also discourages spider mites.

Avoid planting English ivy inside or outside your home if you have dogs, as it is poisonous to them if ingested.

Creating a Topiary

Ivy topiaries make beautiful additions to the home and are also a great gift idea. Instead of purchasing one, consider fashioning one yourself with just a few simple steps and a few simple elements.

Create a topiary by starting with a pot-bound ivy plant, then train the vines around a hollow shaped object, such as a small tomato cage, or an embroidery hoop attached to a wooden dowel.

Gently wind the vines of the ivy around the object to show off the basic shape. Readjust pieces as necessary over the next few days and weeks. Snip off stray or unruly pieces with sterilized scissors.

See video below for basic instructions and ideas of shapes you can make yourself.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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