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How to grow ivy indoors without it taking over your house

Your guide to growing ivy indoors for an elegant display

Ivy is a stately, elegant plant. Its winding vines and distinctive leaves make it instantly recognizable to most people, even those without a green thumb. It’s generally one of the easiest plants to grow indoors, aside from mint. However, ivy plants also have a tendency to climb over anything in their path as they grow. This can make for a quaint outdoor display or possibly a nuisance indoors.

When inside, ivy grows slow enough that the vining is manageable, but if you’re not paying attention, it can also  sneak its way into places you don’t want it. If you have or are planning to have an indoor ivy plant, here’s what you can do to keep it under control so it doesn’t take over your house.

Ivy in a terracotta pot on a small black table

The best indoor ivy plant varieties

Most often, when people picture ivy in their heads, they’re picturing English ivy. This type of ivy can grow indoors, and it’s a hardy plant, which makes it easy to grow. However, it also tends to grow very quickly. For a smaller, easier- to-control-plant, check out one of these varieties.

Glacier ivy is a variety of English ivy, but it was cultivated specifically for use indoors, making it much tamer than the standard English ivy. It enjoys bright, indirect light and is sensitive to overwatering. Bettina ivy, another indoor English ivy variety, stays quite small, making it a popular desk plant. As with most English ivies, provide it with several hours of bright, indirect light a day, and be sure the soil goes dry between waterings.

In addition to these true ivies, you can achieve a similar aesthetic with less aggressive ivy lookalikes. Pothos and philodendron are both exceptional houseplants with lovely trailing vines that won’t spread across your entire home. Pothos, in particular, is popular for its extreme tolerance, as this plant is notably hard to kill.

A small pot of ivy beginning to climb the table

Caring for your indoor ivy plant

Basic ivy care depends largely on the type of ivy you have. English ivy, as noted above, prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. However, other types of ivy differ depending on the climate they originate from. Keeping your ivy happy and healthy indoors is important. Plants that aren’t getting adequate sun, for example, tend to get leggy, growing taller or leaning over to reach for the sun. When trying to keep a vining plant small, this is especially important.

Persian ivy and Irish ivy have similar requirements to English ivy, in that they are hardy, enjoy bright, indirect light, but are shade tolerant, and prefer well-draining soil. You can keep some varieties of Persian ivy indoors, but Irish ivy is even more aggressive than English ivy.

Algerian ivy has similar lighting requirements, although it is less shade tolerant. While it prefers well-draining soil, it also likes to be consistently moist. Algerian ivy is less aggressive than English ivy, but is adept at climbing even without a trellis.

Himalayan ivy prefers less sun, ranging from full shade to partial sun. It does well in most soil types but prefers slightly acidic soil. Himalayan ivy is also less aggressive and does have some houseplant-compatible varieties.

A small pot of ivy being pruned

Keeping your indoor ivy plant small

Aside from making sure you take good care of it, there are a few things you can do to ensure your ivy stays under control. The first thing is to have realistic expectations about the natural behavior of ivy.

This plant loves to grow, so if you plan on growing it in a hanging basket, make sure it is hanging somewhere where it has some room to trail, away from any obstacles it may feel the need to latch onto. It may also attempt to grow up the basket’s hanging attachment and onto your ceiling. If it does, gently untangle it when it first begins to do so and lay it over the basket where you want it to trail. If you’re growing it in a pot, give it a little trellis or something to climb on. Keeping ivy on a single trellis is much easier than keeping it from growing at all.

Regular pruning also helps keep ivy in check. Unlike pruning rose bushes or trees, you can prune ivy with your hands or with clippers. Cut it just above a leaf for the best results. And there’s no particular time of year to prune ivy; you can prune your plant any time you need to.

An English ivy in a hanging basket

Propagating your indoor ivy plant

When pruning, you can either toss the cuttings or plant them in soil or water to propagate an entirely new ivy plant! All you have to do is cut off portions of the stems — ideally with one or two nodes on each cutting — and root them in soil or water, whichever method you prefer.

If you’re rooting them in soil, apply some rooting hormone powder to the ends of the cutting before placing them, and then water weekly. If you’re rooting them in water, just place them in a jar or mug and let them grow. You should see results in a few weeks.

A white table with potted ivy

Troubleshooting problems with your ivy

If your ivy’s leaves are turning brown or wilting, there may be a few things going on. First, make sure that they’re getting the correct type and amount of light. Too much or too little, and their growth will drop off. Next, make sure you’re not overwatering or underwatering them. Ivy will react poorly to both. They also like humidity, so if possible, place them near other houseplants or near a small tray with stones and water, to promote the air quality around them.

There you have it, the best ways to keep an indoor ivy plant from taking over your home. Start with an indoor variety, and then make sure it’s getting the correct amount of sun for the type of ivy it is, give it a little space to climb, and prune it when it gets too long. By following these simple tips, you can grow ivy indoors to your heart’s content without worry or fear. Enjoy your elegant indoor ivy plant!

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