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Growing ivy indoors – how fast it grows (and how to help it along)

In my pre-gardening days, I thought of ivy as an outdoor plant. That invasive climber that covers houses and buildings seemingly overnight.

But while it’s more often found outdoors, ivy makes a wonderful trailing or climbing houseplant too. Though a quick grower, it’s not as prolific indoors as it is outside.

how fast does ivy grow indoors

How fast does ivy grow indoors?

Fast growing ivy can grow up to 8 or 9 feet a year indoors once established, but usually takes 3 years to get up to full speed. Plenty of indirect light, good-quality potting soil and a monthly feed in spring and summer will help it achieve its maximum growth rate.

Most ivies are practically unlimited in their spread outside, with untold space for roots to roam. But their growth rate indoors will be limited by the size of their pot.

You can also easily keep them pruned to the size you like when you grow them as houseplants. Just snap or pinch off the vine with your fingers just above a leaf, or snip with pruners or scissors.

There are a world of ivy varieties to choose from (Algerian, Irish, Swedish, Japanese, Persian and plenty more). But the most popular for indoor growers is English ivy.

You might also like: Are ferns easy to grow indoors?

Why English ivy is ideal for growing indoors

As well as producing lush tendrils of foliage to freshen up a room, English ivy (Hedera helix) is one of the best plants for air purifying, according to a study by NASA.

Like all houseplants, ivy releases oxygen into the air. But it’s also especially good at absorbing formaldehyde, a carcinogen often found lurking in household cleaning products, paints, wood products, cosmetics, glues, etc, as well as cigarette smoke.

Soaks up toxins

Ivy can also absorb trace amounts of benzene, a common component of plastics and other synthetic fibres which has been linked to leukaemia.

It can even soak up airborne faecal matter (sorry – I know you probably didn’t want to think about that!), which makes it great for homes with pets.

Unlike outdoor-grown ivy, it won’t usually produce berries or flowers when grown indoors. But if you choose a variegated ivy, the foliage is more than decorative enough in its own right.

You can grow it in hanging baskets or pots of its own, or at the base of other plants. You can also train ivy on trellises or wire topiary frames for a more structured look.

Getting your ivy off to the best start

It’s fairly easy to propagate an ivy plant by rooting a cutting taken from the stem or tip of an existing plant.

Most varieties root quite quickly in water. Just remove the lower leaves and place the stem in a jar of water in a well-lit spot. After a few weeks you should see roots develop.

plants propagating in glass jars indoors

Once roots are around 2-3 inches long, gently transfer the plant to a pot filled with high-quality potting soil which will ensure good drainage.

Mixing a little compost in too will boost nutrient levels. Repot ivies when plants get top-heavy or root bound, or if they seem to dry out too rapidly.

The new pot shouldn’t be much bigger than the original pot – only around an inch wider. If pots are too big, soil can hold on to too much moisture, which ivies generally dislike.

Because the roots of an English ivy don’t grow very deep, a bowl-shaped shallow planter is ideal.

VERY IMPORTANT – Make sure your chosen pot or container has drainage holes. Otherwise, the pot will become waterlogged and your ivy may succumb to the dreaded root rot!

Plenty of light will boost your ivy’s growth

Though indoor growing can bring some challenges, don’t let that put you off. To get the best out of your ivy, you just need to bear a couple of things in mind.

ivy growing in window

The number one thing to consider is light. English ivy plants grow best with plenty of exposure to indirect light for around 8-10 hours a day.

If they don’t get enough, they’ll grow leggy, tired-looking and more vulnerable to pests.

Choose a bright spot out of direct sun (which can scorch leaves). Close to a sunny window is perfect.

Ivies will tolerate low to medium light if they have to, but growth won’t be as vigorous.

If you’ve chosen a variegated ivy cultivar, low light can make the leaves change to all green, which is a shame if you’ve chosen your ivy specifically for its two-tone foliage.

Grow lights

If natural light is lacking in your home, some growers get good results with artificial lights, which may be worth considering.

A full spectrum LED grow light which mimics natural UV will help you grow not just ivy, but all kinds of plants and vegetables indoors all year round.

While they can be a little expensive to buy, the running costs are low and they’ll soon repay your initial investment with prolific plant growth and a longer, more productive growing season for fruit and vegetable crops.

How often should you water indoor ivy?

woman watering indoor plants

Don’t water ivies too often or you’ll risk killing them with kindness. Around once or twice a week should be fine – they don’t mind soil being a little on the dry side.

And never allow ivies to stand in water or you may find plants develop root rot, as mentioned above.

Root rot is usually caused by either a soil mix or pot that isn’t free draining enough, or from overly frequent watering when plants don’t need it.

In growing season when the weather is warmer, water plants regularly, but ease back during the winter months.

When you do water, give them a good drink but let soil dry to the touch to a depth of about ½ inch before watering again.

Mist the plant 1-2 times a week to boost humidity, especially in the summer months. If you find the leaves seem to be drying up, it could be because the room is too warm.

Ivy does well at cool to moderate room temperatures of 50 to 70°F during the day and about 5 to 10°F lower at night. Much higher and you’ll find leaves start to droop and look pretty sorry for themselves.

Keeping ivy healthy – feeding and pest control

Fertilise ivies around once a month with a slow-release nitrogen plant fertiliser while they are actively growing in the warmer months.

Avoid the leaves so you don’t burn them. And don’t fertilise when plants stop growing, either in the heat of summer or in cooler weather, as this can do more harm than good.

Though plant diseases shouldn’t be a problem indoors, insect damage can still be an issue. Mealybugs, mites, aphids, whiteflies and scales are the most common insect pests of ivies grown as houseplants.

Nip bugs in the bud

If the area infested is small, you can just prune out those parts of the plant. Plants can be pruned at any time of the year, and this will also help to keep plants a manageable size.

It’s important to note that some people can develop a skin rash on contact with ivy sap, so wearing gloves when pruning ivies is always good practice.

You can also pick up plenty of products to help with pests, from specially formulated sprays to sticky traps that you lay on the soil’s surface if you’d rather avoid chemicals. But the best way to deal with pests is early intervention.

ivy leaf with water droplets

Stop insects in their tracks at the first sign of danger by physically washing them off.

Periodic washing can really help to prevent pest problems taking hold and becoming more serious.

Just stand your plant in the shower and rinse foliage under cool running water (taking care not to disturb soil).

If infestation is more advanced, wash the plant by dunking foliage upside down in an insecticide soap solution. Cover soil over with some foil or plastic to keep it in place in the pot.

Maintaining cooler temperatures and high humidity will help prevent some of the most common insect pests. The only down side is that your plant will tend to grow a little more slowly.

Over to you – give ivies a go

Though ivy has its quirks and does need a little bit of effort to get going, it’ll definitely reward you for your efforts.

It’s a beautifully versatile plant that comes in so many varieties and can be displayed in multiple different ways.

Whether you have it cascading down from a shelf, suspended from the ceiling in an indoor hanging basket, shaped around a topiary frame or plant support, or even grown up trellis on an indoor wall, its wonderfully wild and untamed vines are a lovely way to bring a touch of the outdoors in.

Do you know somebody with an ivy plant indoors or in their garden? Why not ask them for a cutting of a few inches or so and give it a whirl? It might just be the start of a lifelong love affair with ivies!

woman surrounded by ivy


  1. Ingrida Ingrida

    Wow!! Now I know what is missing in my house! I need some Ivys! 🙂
    Very informative and very useful info. Thank you for sharing Kerry!

    • Kerry Kerry

      Happy you found it useful Ingrida! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Brittney Lynn Hash Brittney Lynn Hash

    I’ve had an indoor ivy for over a year. I mist it, water it, but not too much, and sit it on window sill a few hours a day. I have 4 branches growing, just like when I bought it. And the branches have barely grown. But it appears healthy… No yellow leaves, no bugs
    Why isn’t it thicker, and why only 4 stems
    I want a thick plant with flowing vines. Any advise??

    • Kerry Kerry

      Hmm, tricky one. Perhaps it’s a little too warm where it is? If it’s close to a radiator or other heat source it will sulk a little. I would try moving it to a different spot for a while and seeing if it gets going. And now we’re in growing season, it’s also worth giving it a feed about once a month. It certainly won’t hurt and might help. Good luck!

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