White and green plant

“Do you have Variegated Monstera deliciosa?” Of the countless plants requested in our shop, perhaps none is more highly sought after than this one. (The answer, by the way, is that yes, we very occasionally do have it, but not all that often… yet!). But it’s not just Variegated Monstera that’s capturing the attention of the houseplant community. As the focus of many plant lovers shifts from flowers to foliage, variegated indoor plants — plants whose leaves have differently colored zones — have come to the fore.

Whatever the reason, one thing can’t be denied: variegated indoor plants are trending. Hard.

Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo-Variegata’ shows dramatic chimera variegation

There are many types of variegated indoor plants, and understanding the various types and causes of variegation is key both to the care of variegated specimens and to why many of them are so rare and hard to find.

Types of Variegated Indoor Plants

While the random patches, streaks and dots of white typical to Variegated Monstera is most likely what comes to mind when you think about variegated indoor plants, there are a number of different types of variegation that look quite distinct, with completely different causes.

Chimeral Variegation

Chimeral variegation is the most common type of variegation. Caused by a genetic mutation, In this type of variegation, plants show two different chromosomal make-ups in a single plant, where some tissue is able to produce chlorophyll and other is not. The result is a plant with white or yellow zones intermixed with the solid green form — this kind of plant is called a chimera. Variegated Monstera deliciosa is one such chimera.

Sometimes, chimeral variegation is randomly spread out around the plant. This is the case with Variegated Monstera, for instance, where you see white or yellow patches and dots splashed around the leaves almost like they’re splattered with paint, while some leaves emerge entirely white and others entirely green. Alternately, sometimes chimeral variegation can be consistent throughout the whole plant, with symmetrical leaf patterns.

Fatsia japonica ‘Spiderwebs’

One important thing to note is that depending on the plant and the cause of the variegation, the variegated form may be stable or unstable. Unstable variegated plants may revert to their solid green form. Variegated plants may also be less vigorous; for example, leaves that emerge solid white on a Variegated Monstera are unable to photosynthesize, and so they typically don’t last very long.

One of the reasons that some variegated cultivars or species are hard to come by is that only certain plants with chimeral variegation can be propagated successfully from stem cuttings, and no chimera will come “true to type” (exhibiting the same phenotype — in this case, variegation) from root cuttings, leaf cuttings or seeds. This means that opportunities for propagating this type of variegated plant are limited, and often unsuccessful.

Perhaps it’s the ephemeral nature of chimera that makes these plants so desirable?

Pattern-Gene Variegation

Sometimes called Pigmented or Natural Variegation, some variegated plants aren’t mutants at all, but rather are naturally patterned. Some of our very favorite variegated indoor plants are patterned like this, and fortunately, unlike chimera, this type of variegation is written into the DNA of the species or cultivar, passed down from generation to generation.

A grouping of Marantaceae family plants like Calathea and Ctenanthe showing pattern variegation

For example, Calathea lancifolia (Rattlesnake Calathea) exhibits pigmented variegation, with a regular patterning of purple dots on its lanceolated green leaves. Likewise, Ctenanthe burle-marxii (Fishbone Prayer Plant) and other members of the Marantaceae family have Pattern-Gene variegation.

While some degree of natural variegation may be present in a species, growers often select for patterning and create hybrids to accentuate and manipulate this. The results are cultivars, a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding.

Blister or Reflective Variegation

Another kind variegation commonly seen in our favorite indoor plants is referred to as either blister variegation or reflective variegation. Tiny air pockets form between the pigmented lower and unpigmented upper layers of the leaves in this type of plant. When light hits thes transparent pockets, it is reflected, causing the leaves to have a silvery appearance.

Scindapsus pictus displaying blister variegation

Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia, below) is one such plant that exhibits this reflective variegation. The silvery stripes that lend the plant its nickname are actually strips of reflective air pockets! This type of variegation doesn’t always appear so symmetrically, though; for example, the random spots on the leaves of Scindapsus pictus (aka Satin Pothos, above) are also caused by blister variegation.

One form of reflective variegation that we find especially attractive is when it occurs along the veins of leaves. This is often seen in aroid plants like Anthuriums, Alocasias and Philodendrons. For instance, Anthurium clarinervium, Alocasia frydek and Philodendron gloriosum all show reflective/blister variegation along the leaf veins. Beautiful, no?

Alocasia frydek, with blister variegation on leaf veins.

Philodendron gloriosum, blister variegation on leaf veins.

Viral Variegation

Some variegated leaves are actually caused by viruses, such as the Mosaic virus. Though not super common, sometimes the resulting variegation from a virus is desirable and can be reproduced. Though not an indoor plant, one variegated plant where this type of viral variegation can be seen is certain Hosta cultivars.

Nomenclature, and One Last Note on the Variegated Monstera

Variegation is a term that is used rather loosely in the plant world. When it comes down to it, any plant displaying multiple colors can be called variegated. The word Variegated comes from the latin word variegatus, which means “made of various sorts or colors.”

Whether you use the term in its loose interpretation to describe patterned or multicolored leaves, or dive into the more technical causes of variegation described above (and it gets wayyyyy more technical and scientific if you want to go down that road – we’re no botanists, just fascinated!), we hope you’re better equipped to understand why plants look the way they do — and why some variegated indoor plants are so hard to find.

One final note to help you navigate the complicated world of plant variegation. When looking at a latin plant name, if you see the italicised word variegata as the second part of the latin name, this indicates a species found in the wild with variegation, such as Aloe variegata. Much more commonly, though, variegated plants are cultivars. This would be indicated with a capital ‘Variegata’ in single quotations.

Monstera deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’ cultivar

There are two variegated Monstera forms we’re aware of, both cultivars. One is ‘Albo-Variegata,’ which has white paint-like splotches on the leaves, sometimes with half or wholly white leaves. The other is ‘Thai Constellation,’ (above) which typically displays a creamy-yellow variegation with much smaller splotches or dots on the leaves.

What’s your favorite variegated plant? Share with us in the comments!

Variegation on a Theme: These Patterned Houseplants Are Hotter Than Ever

Like pink-leaved plants, variegated foliage is having a major moment right now. All of the houseplant nerds I follow on Instagram are posting shots of their gorgeous (yet expensive) specimens. Part of the charm of variegated plants might be that they can be ephemeral; many variegated specimens will revert back to their normal, plain form, much to the plant owner’s consternation.

When it comes to growing variegated plants, keep in mind that they tend to be a bit slower-growing than their non-mutant versions (hey, being that fabulous is hard work!), and fertilizing them more won’t fix it—in most cases, it’ll cause more harm than good. Variegated plants also tend to prefer slightly dimmer conditions, because the chlorophyll that makes leaves green also acts as a plant’s built-in sunscreen; white leaves can scorch easily in direct light. On the plus side, their shade-tolerance makes them excellent houseplants.

Monstera (Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’)

With nearly a million tags on Instagram, Monstera is one of the most popular genera for houseplants right now, full stop. And let’s face it, it’s pretty dang charismatic. M. deliciosa is hotter than ever, and people are losing their freaking minds over the variegated version. It’s really a breeze to grow, but do keep in mind that the variegated version doesn’t need as much light as the green one.

Adanson’s Monstera (Monstera adansonii ‘Archipelago’)

This cutie-pie monstera is also blowing up on IG right now, with or without variegation. It’s somewhat diminutive compared to its more robust cousin M. deliciosa, but still pretty easy to grow. These benefit from a moss-wrapped pole, and do best with filtered light and evenly moist (but well-drained) soil.

Century Plant (Agave potatorum ‘Tuxedo Mask’

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It’s not just tropical plants that get a little sexier with variegation—succulents get even better when their leaves are patterned and streaked. Sunset definitely loves its agaves; you can’t find a more handsome water-wise plant. ‘Desert Diamond’ is another blue-and-cream knockout. Another favorite is A. attenuata ‘Variegata,’ with golden-yellow stripes. Find care tips here.

Elephant Ear (Alocasia odora ‘Variegata’)

With its gigantic leaves, elephant ear will always make an impressive houseplant, but wait ’til you get a load of this streaky freak. This variegated plant would look perfectly at home on the edge of a pond, but to grow it indoors, keep it in a pot of consistently moist soil, in indirect bright, filtered light.

African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha variegata)

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I will always have a soft spot for old lady plants like African violets. There are literally hundreds of varieties of African violets in America alone (don’t even get me started on Russian varieties), and dozens of these are variegated. This mini ‘N-Yagunya’ is from a grower in Germany, but also keep an eye out for ‘Neva Fern,’ ‘Happy Harold,’ and ‘Zacah’s Fantah.’ Give your African violets a slightly shady spot (mine are in a north-facing window), and they tend to do well in self-watering pots.

Banana (Musa x paradisiaca ‘Ae Ae’)

It’s hard to beat a banana tree for bringing an instant tropical vacay mood to indoor spaces, but the variegated version of this plant manages to kick the Trader Vic’s vibe up to level 11. And get this: even its fruit is variegated! Grow these in partial shade, and give them plenty of humidity. If white isn’t your cup of tea, the dwarf variegated banana ‘High Color Mini‘ is streaked with red and take a bit more sun.

Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata,’ ‘Spider’s Web,’ and ‘Spider White’

Compared to a lot of the other variegated plants, Fatsia is not only much easier to source (it’s pretty much a garden center staple), but it’s not going to break the bank, either. The variety ‘Variegata’ can produce several completely white leaves at a time, whereas ‘Spider’s Web’ (pictured) will typically be more uniformly speckled. These gorgeous Aralia relatives actually do quite as outdoor plants (in Zones 7B-10B), but they grow effectively in well-lit spaces. They can reach about 5 feet in height and grow nearly as wide, so give them space! Otherwise, these plants are pretty easy-care; average soil and water will do the trick.

If you want to read more specifics about the different types of variegation, or some of the science of how variegated plants are created, our friends at Pistils Nursery in Portland wrote a really discursive article on the subject.

Plant Rx: 5 Tips for Raising English Ivy Indoors

Owning an English ivy (Hedera helix) is like getting a Valentine every time you look at it: The plant produces multitudes of heart-shape leaves that come in a variety of colors, from dark to light green, as well as variegated forms.

English ivy s a vining plant that smothers buildings and races across the ground. Ivy is beautiful but is also considered an invasive plant in some places because of its aggressive growth habit.
Raising ivy as a houseplant
As a houseplant, ivy will never get out of hand. With the right light, water, and care, it can be one of the most beautiful indoor plants, exelling in containers and cascading from hanging baskets.

One of the most commonly asked ivy care questions are “Why does my ivy have brown leaves?” or “Why is my ivy dropping leaves?”
Symptoms such as drying, browning, and dropping leaves are a plant’s cry for help. But MANY things (and a combination of things) can cause ivies to freak out and produce brown leaves. Plants can get too much of a good thing: too much water, fertilizer, or sun. Or they can get too little of a good thing: too little water or humidity.

Diagnosing problems
With so many diagnoses for the same symptoms, where do you start? Understanding what your English ivy wants is the first step. Here are 5 things you need to know about growing English ivy indoors — their likes and dislikes.

1: Ivies LIKE the right light: medium and bright.
Ivies like medium light best, but will also do well in bright light. While you can grow ivies in low light indoors, they won’t like it and won’t last as long.
If you have an ivy variety with white variegation on the leaves, it likes less direct light than those with green leaves, so if you have lower light levels you may try varieties such as ‘Ingrid Liz’, ‘Little Hermann’, and ‘Nena.’ Variegated leaves are more susceptible to damage from too much sun.
2: Ivies DON’T LIKE to be overwatered.
Try not to be over zealous when watering your ivy. Ivies don’t like wet soil. Wait to water until the top inch or so of the potting mix dries out. It’s best to keep this houseplant a little too dry than little too wet. (This is true for most houseplants.) Also, make sure that the pot the ivy is growing is has drainage holes.
So, here’s a thing that will throw you: If you overwater your ivy, the leaves will turn brown and dry on the edges. This symptom seems like the plant needs more water. The reason the leaves turn brown is that the plant roots are too wet and are basically drowning. Overly wet roots can’t deliver nutrients or, oddly, water to the plant. So, keep your ivy on the dry side.

3. Ivies LIKE humidity.
While ivies don’t like overly moist soil, they do like moist air. You can increase the humidity in your home—or at least around your plants. To do this: Add pebbles to a saucer, then add water. Set your ivy on the pebbles and the water will evaporate, raising the humidity around the plant.

4: Ivies DON’T LIKE to be under watered (because it can lead to pest infestations).
A too-dry plant is a stressed plant. And a stressed plant is susceptible to insect infestations or disease. Winter is especially rough on ivies. Lower light levels and dry air from furnaces and fire places stress out plants. And when plants are stressed, pests, such as spider mites. might attack. These little suckers (they literally suck the juices in plant leaves) like warm and dry conditions. If you have spider mites, you’ll know it: watch for little weblike structures on the undersides of leaves. The mites themselves are tiny and black—like little specs. They reproduce very quickly so you could have an infestation before you know it. To get rid of spider mites, spray them off the leaves with water or apply Neem oil.

5. Ivies LIKE temps on the cool side.
Ivies are native to cooler climates, originating in central and northern Europe. (English ivy is not a native plant; it was brought to the United States by colonial settlers.) So, ivies don’t like really hot temperatures indoors as some tropical plants do. They do best in cool rooms that remain between 50 to 70°F (10 to 21°C).

Read more about ivy!
–Discover creative ways to decorate with ivies.
–Use ivy for holiday (and everyday) decor.
–Start an ivy collection.

Information On Care Of A Variegated Ivy Plant

When it comes to indoor plants, a variegated ivy plant can add some sparkle and jazz to an otherwise boring room, but care of a variegated ivy differs somewhat from the care of other kinds of ivy. Read on to learn more about variegated ivy care.

Basic Care of a Variegated Ivy Plant

Variegated ivy leaves will typically have green and white or yellow markings. The white and yellow areas on the variegated ivy leaves lack chlorophyll. Chlorophyll serves many purposes, the main ones being producing food for the variegated ivy plant and protecting the plant from the rays of the sun.

This means that because of the variegation, variegated ivy care is slightly different than normal green ivy care. First, a variegated ivy plant needs less sunlight and it must be placed out of direct sunlight. Proper care of a variegated ivy requires that you place the ivy plant in indirect or filtered bright sunlight. Variegated ivy leaves will burn if placed in direct sunlight. Variegated ivy will do best on a window sill behind a sheer curtain.

The second secret to variegated ivy care is to significantly reduce the amount of fertilizer you give the plant. Because variegated ivy leaves have less chlorophyll, the plant produces less energy for growth. This means variegated ivy plants grow much slower than their all green cousins. Because they grow slower, they need much less food in the soil. The best fertilizer care of a variegated ivy is to fertilize only once a year, at most. Even then, do so only lightly.

If you fertilize your variegated ivy any more than this, excess fertilizer will build up in the soil and can kill your plant.

Keeping Variegated Ivy Leaves Variegated

Variegated ivy leaves are caused by a genetic factor in the ivy plant, but, without proper variegated ivy care, a variegated ivy plant can revert to the more standard green leaves.

One key factor is sunlight. While a variegated ivy plant can’t take direct sunlight, they do need bright sunlight. Without bright sunlight, the plant cannot make enough food from its chlorophyll to support itself. In order to survive, the plant will start to grow leaves with more green area. If left like this, the plant will eventually grow only green on the leaves.

If this occurs, move the plant to brighter sunlight. The variegated ivy leaves should return over time.

Occasionally, a variegated ivy plant will spontaneously revert to green leaves. You will know if this occurs because only part of the plant will be growing green leaves while the rest is fully variegated.

If this happens, simply trim off the non-variegated ivy leaves to encourage growth of the right colored leaves.

Ivy Houseplant Care: How to take Care of an Ivy Plant?

Ivy is one of the no-fuss and easy growing houseplants that can do quite well with neglect as much as they do with care. This wonderful plant can grow lush and long while bringing you a dash of green to your living space.

English Ivy is available in these varieties:

  • Irish Ivy (Hedera hibernica)
  • Nepal Ivy (Hedera nepaulensis)
  • Japanese Ivy (Hedera rhombea)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis)
  • Russian Ivy (Hedera pastuchovii)
  • Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)

Other than these, you can also find Gold Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Kolibri Ivy, Asterisk Ivy, California Ivy and many more.

The ivy plants are native to Asia, Europe and North America. The varieties are found in over 100 of colors, plant size and shapes of leaves. The plant is quite versatile and can grow both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, you can use it as a tabletop arrangement, in a hanging basket or make it sit in a sconce or use it as topiary.

  • Botanical Name of English Ivy:

Ivy’s botanical name is Hedera Helix. While Hedera is the generic term for English ivy, helix is derived from a Greek word, which means twist or turn.

  • Growing English Ivy Indoors: An Overview

Since there is an array of ivies available for your living space, you can choose one in preferred color, leaf shape and size.

If you keep on providing and fulfilling its needs in terms of water, light and humidity, it is a relatively easy plant to grow indoors as well. The most critical element here is light. Ivies need bright light but can’t tolerate direct light either. Low light can make the plant sick and leggy. It may produce short leaves and its growth becomes stunted if it doesn’t get proper light. The variegation on the leaves, which is its charm and the prime reason people buy ivies for, fades away and the leaves are left with plain and dull green. Without proper lighting conditions, ivies become far more susceptible to pests and disease than they are outdoors or in proper light. Apart from the light, you should also pay attention to the soil as it should be well-drained and evenly moist. The water regimen should also change as the weather changes.

Fertilizer is yet another requirement for the plant, which should be done in spring. You should avoid using fertilizer during winter or when plant is growing leaves. Winter is a hibernation period for the plant and you shouldn’t fertilize it as it can damage the plant permanently. Misting can help plant to retain its humidity and prevent the infestation of spider mites.

If the infestation is too much and kind of irreversible, opt for green solution and spray from top to bottom. Don’t forget to spray on inner parts and curved leaves.

In Europe, you can find almost English ivy covering walls of every household. In fact, the government recommends planting it to provide insulation in winter and cooling in summer. The plant also shields the building against exposure to sun, temperature fluctuations and soil moisture. It is also used to hide unsightly walls and facades and to bring a dash of extra dash on vintage buildings. However, the decision of using English ivy for a green façade should be a conscious one as the plant is an invasive species and can intrude to tiles, roof spaces and even gutters, causing blockage and seepage in the walls. The plants can also become home to insects, bugs and mice. So, if you are considering English ivy as a façade or wall sconces, keep pruning it regularly and if the plant becomes unruly, root it out from the stumps.

Growing and nurturing English ivy at home can be very rewarding. After all, who would not want to watch the wonder of nature unfurling at your home and getting accolades for it!

  • Words of Advice:

Since English ivy grows actively, is an evergreen and fierce vine that clings to trees and plants nearby, it is very important that you prune it regularly. It has its benefits such as clearing the toxins from air and mold particles from indoor air but it is a very invasive species and it can hamper with the growth of other household plants. Hence, it is advised that you keep pruning it regularly to limit its height or make it grow to a desired length.

  • Identifying Ivy:

The plant has training vines and lobed leaves. The plant has become the preferred choice of homemakers and interior decorators all over the world. English ivy is a wonderful and cost-effective home accent. If you want to jazz up a dull corner or want to bring a dash of nature to your home, consider this plant. For dish gardening and as a container plant, English ivy is the perfect choice as it brings variety to your collection.

The leaves of English ivy are placed alternatively and in a petiole arrangement. They are 2-4 inches long and the space between them is about 0.8 inches. Ivies have two types of leaves. The young leaves have five lobes that stem out of climbing stem whereas adult leaves are unlobed and cordate. These adult leaves are placed in cordate arrangement and stem out of fertile stem. These are usually on the top, the place that gets full and bright light.

  • English Ivy Flowers

The flowers spring from the mature stem, the part which gets full light and is on the top. The flowering phase occurs from late summer to late autumn. The flowers are about 2 inches wide and greenish-yellow in color. These are very small in size and nectar-rich. In late autumn, when the food is scarce for bugs and bees, these flowers become the main source of food for them. However, indoor ivy plants rarely blossom. If you can maintain the exact requirements of the plant, you can experience this woody vine in its full glory and blossoming.

  • English Ivy Fruits:

The fruits of English ivy are berry-like and orange-yellow or purple-black in color. About 0.3 inches in diameter, the fruits ripen in late winter. The fruits are considered poisonous for humans but for some birds, it is a major source of food. Birds are also the main pollinators of the seeds that are in a berry. Usually, there are one to five seeds in a berry, which are dispersed during the eating process.

The plant grows actively and can grow as a vine as much as it wants. The shiny green leaves are speckled with creamy white, gold or yellow color. The stems are covered with foliage. The roots are aerial and can double up as a vine, further accentuating your living space.

  • Air-Purifying Plant

NASA has included English ivy plants as clean air plants that purify the air by clearing air borne toxins such as carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde. It is in fact, one of the top 10 clean air plants.

  • English Ivy Houseplant Helps Reduce Mold

Moreover, it has also been established that the plant helps eliminating the mold particles from the air. It is to be noted that air-borne mold particles have been diagnosed as the trigger of asthma, throat infections and serious illnesses. With English ivy, you can reduce the count of indoor mold particles in your household. A study linking the effectiveness of English ivy in reducing the indoor mold particle has been done by Hilary Spyers Duran, West Coast Clinical Trials Practitioner. Besides, WebMD Health News has also studied and established the credibility of the study.

During this study, the researchers kept English ivy in two containers, with dog feces and moldy bread. After six hours, it was found that the plant has reduced the mold particles in the jars by 58% and 60% respectively.

English Ivy in Medicines:

Ethno-medical uses of English ivy have been prevalent since times immemorial. The plant’s leaves and fruits were taken orally as a cough expectorant and to treat bronchitis. Even today, the extract of ivy leaves and fruits are a part of many cough medicines. In the year 1597, famous British herbalist, John Gerard used ivy infused water to wash sore and infected eyes. However, people who have been diagnosed with type IV hypersensitivity and have allergy from even carrots, can develop contact dermatitis from the leaves of English ivy.

  • Toxicity

You should keep the plant away from pets and kids as the plants, when indigested, can be poisonous. The Ivy Houseplant can also cause skin irritation and it is advised that you use gloves while pruning or watering the plant and wash the hand thoroughly after this.

The toxicity level of ivy plants is 3.

  1. Light:

The plant needs bright yet indirect sunlight. In proper lighting condition, the plant can grow lush and green whereas low lighting can stunt the growth of the plant and leaves can be smaller and with larger margins. If you can spot burnt leaves or brown spots on the leaves, it is a sign that your plant is getting too much light. Variegated leaves lose their color and remain just green due to the lack of proper light.

The plant can also thrive quite wonderfully in fluorescent light.

  1. Water:

Both overwatering and under watering the plant can be deadly for the plant. It is recommended that you let the soil dry up to at least 20 percent before you water it again. Crispy leaves on the plant are an indication of overwatering. However, the soil shouldn’t be soggy. You should make proper arrangement for the drainage of excess water. Keep the soil little drier in winter but evenly moist during spring-fall.

  1. Fertilizer:

The plant requires plant food in every two weeks in spring and summer. Provide fertilizer of half the recommended strength. Don’t fertilize the plant when it is too hot or cold. One shouldn’t fertilize during the growing phase of plant, especially when the leaves are growing out or when soil isn’t wet. You can also use a liquid fertilizer that is rich on nitrogen content. Use it monthly for better results.

  1. Humidity:

The plants prefer medium to high levels of humidity to thrive. Don’t keep the plants anywhere near heat vents because the heat can dry up the soil. Moist air and soil is quite necessary for the plant. You can create a mini greenhouse in your home near ivy plants if you find that humidity levels go further down to 50%. Keep the pot on wet pebbles tray and arrange other houseplants nearby. Place a mini humidifier to raise the humidity.

You can also try misting the leaves with water alternatively. Misting also helps the plant to keep pests like spider mites at bay.

  • Temperature:

Cooler temperatures ranging from 10-21degree Celsius is preferable. However, make sure that the temperature remains consistent. Temperature shock can cause the plant to go into dormant phase unexpectedly.

  • Pest:

English ivy plants are vulnerable to infestations of scale, mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites and white flies. Spider mites’ white webs are often seen on the plant when it doesn’t get proper humidity. To prevent infestation, you can spray the plant with green solution.

  • Soil:

Soil that is well-drained, rich and organic is perfect for English ivy plants.

  • Diseases:

English ivy plants are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases.

  • Pruning:

Keep pruning the plant to promote it overall growth. English ivy is grows quite fast and you can help it reach a desired length by pruning it.

  • Propagation:

Stem cuttings can be used to propagate the plants. Take stem cuttings of about 8-10cms and root them in the soil. The time to propagate stem cutting is spring and you can use water to root them too.

  • FAQs on English ivy:

I can spot some fine webbing on the plant. What is it?

It is spider mites. Spider mites attack the plant due to dry air and low humidity. Mist the plant to maintain its humidity. In case the infestation is too much, spray green solution on the leaves.

The leaves on my ivy are turning crispy. Is this alright?

Despite the popular belief, the leaves of English ivy turn brown and crispy due to overwatering. It is recommended that you allow the soil to dry up at least 20% before you water it again. You need to make sure that the soil is well-drained. The soil should remain evenly moist but not soggy.

The new leaves on my ivy are small while the old leaves are turning pale.

The new leaves are further apart and smaller because of improper and low lighting conditions whereas the pale leaves are due to the infestation of spider mites. Spider mites happen due to low humidity levels and dry air. You can consider keeping the plant in bright and indirect light to initiate proper growth of the plant.

And if the infestation isn’t much, you can try misting the leaves and if it is beyond control, reach out for green solution, which is undiluted alcohol mixed up with a few drops of biodegradable soap and mineral oil.

I can spot white sticky patches all over the ivy leaves. What are they?

The white patchy spots on ivy leaves are due to mealy bugs. The only solution to this problem is green solution.

The white ting on the ivy is gone. It is just green now.

Low lighting can make the variegation on ivy leaves disappear. If your plant isn’t getting proper light, keep it nearby window sill where it can get bright but indirect light. Keep rotating the pot to prompt uniform growth in the plant.

  • How to maintain the appearance of English Ivy:

You can judge the health of English ivy by its leaves. If your plant has dry leaves, it is an indication that the plant needs moisture, moist soil and cool atmosphere. You can move your plant to a cooler place and mist the leaves so that they don’t dry and retain the moisture level.

If you want the plant to grow up to a desired length, prune it to trigger its growth. Routine pruning can be done throughout the year to maintain its shape and appearance.

Light is necessary for the plan to thrive. Green leaves with no variegation should be cut off the stem. Keep rotating the pot to expose the plant to the light for a holistic growth.

  • Tips for Buying English Ivy

You can buy ivy houseplant online or from nearby garden or nursery. These are some tips that can help you choose the right plant for your space:

There are hundreds of plants you can choose.

If you don’t have much space at home or office, you can go for Itsy Bitsy ivy, which is a small cultivar and low on maintenance as well.

Want to add some drama to your home? Go for ‘Curlilocks’ that has curved and wavy leaves. Gold Child has gold, white and gray color splashed all over the leaves. Similarly, Glacier has leaves with creamy white edges and of gray-green color.

Love it, Hate It – English Ivy

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How can a problem-solver cause so many problems? Plant English ivy and you’ll find out.

Native to Europe, English ivy (Hedera helix) is a popular, evergreen ground cover for the shade. The main reasons are it has very attractive foliage, it spreads and fills in faster than other ground covers, and most other ground covers don’t like shade. Typically, it sports dark green leaves with three to five lobes, but many variations exist. Some selections feature variegated foliage with leaves edged in white or yellow. Other forms flaunt heart-shaped, deeply cut, rounded, or diminutive leaves, as any member of the Ivy Society will be happy to show you.

On an open surface, all forms spread along the ground, rooting as they go to form a solid mat about four to eight inches high. If they did only that, there would be a lot less hate. However, aided by tenacious aerial rootlets, they climb any and every object they encounter – house, boulder, chain-link fence, wall, abandoned school bus, hobo, and – worst of all – tree. Ivy has no problem climbing to the top of a 100-foot tree and completely enshrouding the trunk and main limbs. It can shade out so many leaves that the tree dies due to lack of photosynthesis. Here’s what happens when English ivy invades the woods.

Image zoom Steve Bender

Ivy is interesting because it exhibits two distinct life stages. In the juvenile stage, it’s a clinging, vegetative vine. In the adult stage, it’s a sedentary shrub with oval, non-lobed leaves. You’d think the adult form would be entirely safe to plant and ignore, but you’d be wrong. Adult plants flower and produce blue-black berries filled with seeds. Birds eat the berries, poop them out, and seedlings sprout. The seedlings are juveniles that spread and climb.

The Jekyll and Hyde nature of ivy present serious conflicts for Grumpy. For example, a number of readers have asked what’s the quickest, plant-based way to stop a bare, shaded slope from eroding. Plant English ivy, I reply. But if these readers don’t keep the ivy from climbing or spreading beyond their property, they could be setting loose a plague like you see above. English ivy is considered an invasive plant in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, and many other places. Oregon banned its sale and planting.

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How do you get rid of ivy you don’t want? Well, if you only have a little, pull it up roots and all, bag it, and throw it out with the trash. If you have a lot, though, “Houston, we have a problem.” Cut tree-climbing vines at the base of the tree. The vines above will die and shower the yard with dead leaves for months, but the tree will thank you. Eradicating ivy on the ground means carefully timed applications of either Roundup of Brush Killer. Spraying in the summer or fall does no good, because a waxy coating on the leaves prevents absorption. You must spray in the spring when the new leaves are bright green and lack the wax.

Bottom-line: Plant ivy only as a last resort and if you can keep it in check. Don’t let a problem-solver become a catastrophe.

The best decorative ivies for the garden

Ivies are more than just evergreen climbers for shady walls. Many make excellent ground cover, and they are good for planting in containers including pots and window boxes. Others make brilliant houseplants and produce stunning foliage for adding to cut-flower displays. Compact forms of ivy can also be used for topiary and add interesting structure to the garden. Here we list some of the best decorative types of ivy including green-leaved ivy, variegated ivy and green and white ivy, to add interest and colour into your garden all-year-round.


Decorative foliage

Green-leaved ivies offer an array of forms and textures, from the defined and bold, to the crimped and frilly.

1 Hedera helix ‘Duckfoot’ Good for containers and often grown as a houseplant.
2 H. hibernica ‘Spetchley’ perfect in containers or over rocks and low walls.
3 H. helix ‘Lalla Rookh’ Good as groundcover or in containers.
4 H. helix ‘Triton’ This bushy ivy is best grown as groundcover or in pots or containers.
5 H. helix ‘Anita’ Its trailing habit makes it ideal for pots or for training over topiary frames.
6 H. helix ‘Ivalace’ With a dense, compact habit, it responds well to clipping.
7 H. helix ‘Pink ’n’ Curly’ A bushy plant, with waved, crinkled leaves.
8 H. helix ‘Green Ripple’ Lovely in pots or cascading over low walls.
9 H. helix ‘Parsley Crested’ Reaching just 90cm, it is perfect for low walls and excellent for groundcover. AGM.
10 H. helix ‘Cockle Shell’ A trailing form, popular for hanging baskets and window boxes.

Variegations: cream and yellow

Cream and yellow-flushed and variegated ivies light up shady walls and fences and contrast with dark, evergreen shrubs in pots.

1 H. helix ‘Golden Ingot’ A slow-growing climber reaching up to 90cm.
2 H. helix ‘Jersey Doris’ Good on a dark fence or wall.
3 H. helix ‘Goldfinch’ Perfect for pots, over rocks or as groundcover.
4 H. colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’ A vigorous climber reaching up to 8m. Also good as groundcover.
5 H. helix ‘Buttercup’ A slow-growing climber up to 2.5m, and one of the best for colour.
6 H. helix ‘Amber Waves’ A compact climber or trailer growing to 90cm. Good for containers and baskets.
7 H. helix ‘Golden Girl’ A versatile ivy that grows fast for a variegated form.
8 H. helix ‘Oro di Bogliasco’ A vigorous climber, reaching 8m.
9 H. helix‘Midas Touch’ A creeping ivy that rarely climbs, perfect for pots and containers, indoors or out.
10 H. helix ‘Luzii’ This fast-growing, medium-sized climber is popular as a houseplant.

Variegations: green and white

Green and white or cream variegations make uplifting backdrops as climbers, and enliven shady borders.

1 H. helix ‘Sally’ Ideal for lighting up a shady wall, this is a slow-growing climber (to 3m).
2 H. helix ‘Misty’ Ideal for pots and as a houseplant.
3 H. helix ‘Heise’ A medium-sized climber.
4 H. helix ‘Silver King’ A good climbing and trailing ivy with five-lobed leaves, the central lobe longer than the rest.
5 H. helix ‘Chester’ An attractive climber, not too dense.
6 H. helix ‘Ardingly’ Attractive in pots and as floral decoration.
7 H. helix ‘Glacier’ A fast-growing climber. Good as groundcover on dry, shady slopes.
8 H. algeriensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’ A vigorous climber, growing up to 4m. Great on a shady wall.
9 H. helix ‘White Ripple’ An attractive climbing or trailing ivy. Grows to 3m.
10 H. helix ‘Little Diamond’ A dwarf, bushy ivy. Good in pots and indoors.


Most ivies are classified with a hardiness rating of RHS H5, USDA 6a-11, although sheltered situations have a great influence, and plants grown in pots in colder regions may need winter protection. Hardiness ratings are explained here.


Fibrex Nurseries, Honeybourne Road, Pebworth, Warwickshire CV37 8XP.
Tel 01789 720788, fibrex.co.uk.

Photographs Dianna Jazwinski


Words Andy McIndoe, plant expert

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