English Ivy Houseplant

In Albums: plants houseplants

English ivy growing as a houseplant, on a windowsill

Jul 17th, 2011, by Alex Zorach

This is an English ivy plant which I bought from IKEA as a houseplant. I named this plant Girard after SEPTA's Girard Avenue Trolley, also known as Route 15. The green color of the leaves reminded me of the green color of these trolleys, which are retrofitted historic trolleys rather than the cute but more modern and sterile-looking newer trolleys.

English ivy, Hedera helix, is interesting among houseplants, in that the same species is used both as an outdoor landscaping plant in cold temperate climates, and as an indoor plant. Most houseplants are derived from tropical plants, including rainforest plants, desert plants, and plants from tropical wet/dry forests. This is because the indoor temperature profile is closer to the temperature range in these climates; plants adapted to colder temperate climates, which go below freezing naturally, often have trouble adapting to indoor conditions. Many plants will die or struggle without a period of cold dormancy.

I have tried growing ivy from outdoors as a houseplant. Ivy roots readily from cutting, and it is very easy to get plants started indoors. However, I have found that plants grown by this manner always succumb to pest infestations, and eventually die, even if they initially grow vigorously for several months. I wonder if I am bringing outdoor pests in on the plant, or if the plants are simply not adapted to indoor conditions. I am also curious how long this particular plant will last as an indoor plant. Currently, it is healthy and growing vigorously. I have placed it in bright, indoor light, in the same conditions as the fiddle-leaf fig which is visible in the upper-right corner of this photo.