Growing Ivy Indoors

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Ivy with Birds

Ivy (Hedera species) thrives outdoors in most areas of the United States, but with the right growing conditions, it also makes a pretty houseplant. This ivy, spotted at my local gardening center, is a perfect example of the vine’s charm.

The secret to happy indoor ivy plants is to keep in mind their growing conditions. Many homes are too dry and warm for this plant at night, as ivy really prefers cool evening temperatures. This plant tends to grow best in moderate room temperatures of 50°F to 70°F during the day and about 10 degrees colder than that at night.

We keep our house cool at night, because we sleep better that way. But if your house runs warm in the winter, keep your ivy plants in a colder part of the house.


Holiday Ivy


Ivy grows best in bright light, but don’t place this plant in direct sun.  If the light is too dark, the plant will grow more slowly and the variegated types may turn green, warns the Clemson State University Cooperative Extension.

This ivy was growing at a local flower shop during the winter holidays. As you can tell, it looks pretty happy in this spot, but be sure to allow plenty of room for good air circulation. Don’t crowd your plants.

When the soil feels dry, water your ivy deeply so that the plant’s entire root system is saturated. I do this chore in a sink or outdoors, so water can drain out the bottom. Never let your plant sit in water.

Humidity is important for ivy plants, and sometimes our heating systems can really dry out the moisture in the air.  Try misting your plants occasionally, or placing them elevated over a tray of water with pebbles. Just make sure your plants aren’t actually sitting in the water.


Pruning Ivy


Ivy is a popular plant for topiaries, because it grows quickly and winds itself around different shapes, such as these hearts in my home.  To maintain the shape, prune your ivy plant regularly using a tool like a Fiskars® Softgrip® Garden Multi-Snip.


close up of pruning ivy


For best growth, feed your ivy plants monthly using a houseplant fertilizer.  You can prevent many pest problems by periodically dunking ivy plants’ foliage upside down into water with a bit of insecticidal soap. A piece of foil will help hold the soil in the pot. When handling ivy, you may want to wear gloves. Some people develop skin rashes from the plant sap.

Please Note: Ivy is such a fast grower that it is a nuisance plant outdoors in some regions of the nation, including Oregon and Washington.

In my California home, we spent a lot of money and time removing ivy, planted in the late-1950s, which had completely taken over the front yard. So learn from this experience!

If you live in one of these areas, don’t be part of the problem. Only grow ivy indoors or in a container outdoors. Don’t plant ivy directly in the garden, or you’ll regret the day you made that decision – and so will the next people who move into your house.

Fortunately for all of us, ivy can be enjoyed in our homes all year long, regardless of where we live.


Ivy in the shape of a heart