Once planted, ivy cannot be crushed in the garden or house. The undemanding climbing plant with the decorative, evergreen foliage will not let its gardener down. She transforms sober fences, desolate downpipes and sparse facades into picturesque green landscapes. If nothing at all wants to thrive in a shady bed, Hedera helix takes on this task as an easy-care groundcover. As a houseplant, the industrious climbing artist helps beginners and transforms spartan rooms into oases of well-being with lively greenery. The only downer could be the poison content of ivy. Those who take into account the central aspects of planting, care and propagation will not let this spoil their enjoyment of Hedera helix.


  • Plant family of the Araliaceae (Araliaceae)
  • Genus Ivy (Hedera)
  • Common ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Evergreen, hardy root climber
  • Perennial and herbaceous, woody with age
  • Stalked, five-lobed leaves with various markings
  • Inconspicuous flowers in autumn
  • Capable of climbing up to 20 meters in height
  • Life expectancy is up to 450 years
  • Toxic in all parts of the plant

There are more than 1,000 species within the ivy genus, which advertise themselves with very individual attributes. Some specimens have shed their status as evergreen plants and develop dark red to purple foliage as early as summer. In addition, skilled breeders have succeeded in producing ornamental varieties with delightfully variegated leaves.

plants in the right place

A location for ivy in the bed should be chosen with prudence. First and foremost, the hobby gardener naturally strives for vital, lush growth. In connection with this, it should not be overlooked that it is mostly a bond for life that you enter into with Hedera helix. In a suitable location, combined with good care, the climbing plant can reach a proud age. Once it has established itself, the evergreen climbing plant clings so vehemently to the soil or to the trellis thanks to its adhesive roots that it can only be removed with great effort.

  • Partly shaded to shaded location
  • Maximum 2 to 3 hours of morning or evening sun
  • Cool, airy and without sweltering heat in summer

The more colored and lighter the foliage is drawn, the sunnier lighting conditions should be chosen. Ivy feels particularly at home where the temperatures between day and night do not fluctuate too much.

A suitable place in room culture

If ivy is used for greening a room, a bright, not full sun spot on a west or east window is ideal. The entire plant should be evenly surrounded by the light. If some sections are in twilight while others are in the sun, ivy develops an asymmetrical habit. The tendrils with less light supply wilt towards the sun, becoming thinner and developing sparse foliage.

  • Indoor ivy requires harmonious light exposure
  • Consistent temperatures all year round are an advantage
Tip: Ivy also sets decorative accents in corners of the room that are not bathed in light. With the help of a simple plant lamp, you can provide your Hedera helix with sufficient brightness in such a location.

soil conditions and substrate

Ivy thrives in any good garden soil. Cultivation is all the more successful when the plant finds the following conditions:

  • Nutrient-rich, humic soil, fresh and yet permeable
  • A pH of 6.0 to a maximum of 8.0 is ideal
  • Commercial potting soil is suitable as a substrate in the planter

Although ivy prefers a slightly moist soil, there must be no risk of waterlogging. A loamy-sandy soil is therefore an advantage. In the bucket, the experienced hobby gardener adds a filler to the substrate, such as perlite, expanded clay or coconut fibers.


Ivy can be planted throughout the growing season from March to October. The only requirement is frost-free or thawed soil so that the roots can spread quickly.

  • Place the still potted plant in a vessel with water and let it soak
  • Meanwhile, loosen and clean the soil at the intended location
  • Dig planting holes at a distance of 50 cm to 80 cm, depending on the variety
  • Mix the excavation with compost and horn shavings or horn meal
  • At the bottom of each planting pit lay a drainage made of gravel or grit

After this preparatory work, pot the waterlogged plants and plant them. Ivy should not be planted deeper than in the container. After a good gulp of water, a layer of mulch supports growth.

Tip: In the planter, such as a tub, flower pot, balcony box or hanging basket, spread an air- and water-permeable fleece over the drainage so that the substrate does not clog the granular material.

watering & fertilizing

Ivy relies on a constant water supply. Waterlogging should nevertheless be avoided.

  • Water when the substrate surface has dried (thumb test)
  • Spray daily with lime-free water in the room at temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius
  • Either fill coasters with pebbles or empty them immediately after pouring

Any home gardener who occasionally misses watering their houseplants will be pleased to learn that ivy is excellent for hydroponics. In this case, the reservoir is only filled up when the water level indicator signals the need.

The hunger for nutrients can be easily satisfied with Hedera helix. In the bed, you regularly work a little garden compost into the soil if you are out with the wheelbarrow anyway. Ivy in the planter receives liquid fertilizer for green plants every 2 weeks from March to September/October in normal dosage according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To cut

The robust frugality of ivy continues seamlessly in terms of a shape and maintenance cut. In principle, the plant tolerates pruning at any time. At least once a year, inspect the climbing plant for dried tendrils to thin them out. Hedera helix reacts to a lack of light in the room with puny shoots. In such a case, cut them off and change the location.

  • Start each cut 1-2mm above a leaf node
  • Always use freshly sharpened and disinfected tools
  • Always wear gloves due to the toxic content of ivy

Hibernation outdoors

Last but not least, ivy owes its biblical life expectancy of up to 450 years to its complete winter hardiness. As a result, no special protective measures are required in the bed. Specimens planted only in fall should spend their first winter under a thick layer of foliage or straw.

Central European winters are increasingly characterized by frosty temperatures and a lack of snow. In view of such weather, gardeners speak of frost. This term implies that ivy is threatened by drought. The ground is deeply frozen and doesn’t yield any water, while at the same time a moistening layer of snow is missing. On a frost-free day, Hedera helix is ​​therefore also watered during the winter.

In the planter, care should be taken to ensure that the root ball does not freeze through. A cover made of bubble wrap is helpful to protect against frosty side winds. To prevent the cold from freezing the roots from the ground, place the bucket or box on a block of wood.

Overwinter in the room

Where space permits, a hibernation for indoor ivy is recommended. If the busy climbing plant is allowed to regenerate from November to February, it thanks the short break with improved vitality and health. A cool room that is not too dark with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius is ideal. During this phase only a little is poured and not fertilized.


Have you found a taste for the creative design options of ivy in garden and interior design? Then multiply your climbing plants as you wish. There are two methods to choose from.


Cut the desired number of 10 cm long head cuttings. Each cutting is then defoliated except for the upper pair of leaves and placed in a glass with water on the bright window sill. At an average temperature of 18 to 20 degrees Celsius, new roots will form within the next 2 to 4 weeks. From a root length of 2-3 cm, each cutting is planted in a pot with the recommended substrate or in the ground at the chosen location. In order for the cuttings to grow well, observing polarity is crucial. For this reason, it is advisable to leave the pair of leaves on the cuttings throughout the propagation procedure.


In view of the uncomplicated propagation of cuttings, only a few hobby gardeners choose sowing. Thanks to a high success rate, sowing ivy is an excellent practice for beginners who want to increase their experience. Mind you, only the seeds of the pure species Hedera helix come into question. Of course, you can also sow the seeds of the numerous varieties. However, nobody can predict the result, because in the case of hybrids, a large number of parent plants were often involved in the course of the crossing attempts. If you prefer to sow an ivy variety, the specialist trade offers suitable seeds at low prices.

Harvest and pre-treat ivy seeds

The seeds are mature in March or April. Watch out for the blackbirds. When the birds start eating the berries, they are ready for harvest. Be sure to wear gloves because the toxin content is particularly high in the fruit. Each berry contains 1 to 5 seeds, which must be cleaned from the pulp in the first step. As with all seeds that are taken from a fruit, the natural germination inhibition must be broken by means of a pre-treatment. With larger seeds, this can be achieved by filing. However, since ivy seeds are as small as 5 mm, the following procedure is recommended:

  • Buy potassium nitrate in a 0.2 percent concentration in the pharmacy
  • Soak the seeds in it for a maximum of 24 hours

3.0 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is also available in pharmacies, is a suitable alternative to potassium nitrate. In the first step, the seeds swell in it for 20 minutes. Then dilute the liquid by 50 percent with water and leave the seeds in the solution for 24 hours.

together aussäen

Following the pre-treatment, the actual sowing is on the agenda:

  • Fill a seed tray with seed compost and spread the seeds on it
  • Only sieve thinly with substrate and moisten
  • Cover the seed pot with glass or foil and place in a warm, partially shaded place

When the first cotyledons peep out of the substrate, the cover is aired a little longer every day, until they finally fall away completely. Now give the young plants enough time to develop. It is important to note that they do not dry out during this phase. If the seedlings have 3 to 5 pairs of leaves, they are transplanted into individual pots. This works excellently with the help of a pricking stick, which also pre-drills the small planting holes. However, special pricking soil from the hardware store is recommended as a substrate. The cotyledons should not touch the soil to prevent rot from forming.

It will now take several weeks for each plant to take root in its pot. Then the Hedera helix have thrived so far that they move into their final location in the bed or planter.

Anyone who considers the advantages of ivy will no longer want to do without the robust, hard-working climbing plant. Cultivation in the bed is just as easy as in the house. She tirelessly greens even inhospitable places as long as they are not in the blazing sun or have dried out. In all activities related to plants, care and propagation, the poisonous content of Hedera helix must never be ignored.

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