Meet The Family: Ivy – A Surprisingly Difficult Plant

Hedera helix, or English Ivy as it is most commonly known, is in my opinion a very overrated plant. When I say overrated I mean it is growing everywhere in Ireland and so freely available. When I saw it for sale at one of our local shops I thought I might as well take one home as it is said to be an easy plant to care for. Boy was I wrong! 

With my “Meet The Family” series of posts I will be introducing you to my plants and tell you a little bit more about the story behind each plant. I will also attempt to share more about my plant care, and how the plant responds to the conditions in our apartment.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. In January during my first big plant haul I bought an Ivy from B&Q and decided to put her in our bookshelf in our hallway. The idea was to have her trail over the bookshelf. She wasn’t really trailing yet, so when I saw one at our local supermarket that was trailing quite a bit I bought another one. I don’t normally buy two of the same plant, but as Ivy are fairly inexpensive I thought having more than one of the same plant in this case was acceptable.

As the label said they require a shaded area I thought the low light should be fine. After a while I saw they weren’t happy. They started losing leaves fairly quickly and I knew they were not going to survive in the low lighting conditions at all. I decided to put both Ivies in one pot and found all the stems were individual plants. One or two didn’t make it so I removed them. Once they were potted together I moved her to our North facing bedroom windowsill.

At that point she unfortunately lost most of her leaves. I had to have a lot of patience with her, but within a few weeks she started growing new leaves and they were honestly some of the cutest leaves I have ever seen. As the older leaves died or turned brown I cut them off and found that multiple leaves grew back in its spot. 

Looking back now at how full and beautiful she was when I bought her fills me with great sadness. I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning but thankfully I’ve learned something from every mistake. I am hopefully that she will make a full recovery, but it will take some time for her to be as full as she was when I got her.

I didn’t post about my Ivy on my Instagram account as I was quite embarrassed that I almost killed such an easy beginner plant. When I decided this week that she is finally in an acceptable state to appear on the grid I found that a lot of others also really struggled with their Ivy. The most common answer was that the plant was struggling and eventually died. I was so surprised to learn I wasn’t the only one that almost killed mine. In my Ivy’s defense I didn’t provide the correct conditions for her to thrive, but I thought they are hardy plants that would survive almost anything.

I thought I would share some of the responses I got on Instagram: 


I had one once, struggled with it for ages and finally it died. No more Ivy. That’s funny with the Ivy, it’s said to be a beginner’s plant, but so many people struggle with it. Plus pests love it! 


I have an Ivy and haven’t had any troubles with it yet, but I heard they are pest magnets. 


I have one in soil free and she is a dream plant! 


I’ve murdered two but the new one seems okay, for now. 


I can’t keep Ivy alive. I’ve killed two now. 


Oh I do love Ivy!!!! So underrated. 


Ivy grows everywhere in California so I feel like they’re ignored here.

Although Ivy should be placed in filtered sun or partial shade I would advise against lower light conditions. My Ivy did a lot better in brighter light. In terms of watering, she seemed to dry out quicker than most of my other plants so I was watering regularly while she was in direct lighting conditions. I’ve since moved her again to a more indirect lighting area as I am playing around with macrame plant hangers. I immediately noticed her losing leaves again so will move her back to a sunny spot. 

Do you have an English Ivy at home? Is yours on its own mission or are you struggling to keep it alive? I would love to hear from you. Leave a reply by commenting below! 

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