Ivy is known for dramatically embellishing exterior walls with their climbing vines, or as creeping plants that cover ground. They’re a popular plant for good reason, as they lend elegance to any location, come in many varieties, and tend to be fast-growing. Although Ivy is often known as an outdoor plant, this plant can be grown indoors as well! They can make fantastic indoor houseplants for those who want to bring the outside in. This Ivy Growing guide will help you understand the general principles of growing Ivy and choose the right species.
Ivy species that thrive as indoor houseplants:
- English Ivy
- Algerian Ivy
- Buttercup Ivy
- Boston/ Japanese Ivy
English IvyThe Hedera Helix varieties of ivy, also known as English ivy varieties are arguably the most popular type of indoor ivy houseplant. Perhaps that’s why they’re often referred to as the ‘common ivy!’
Photograph of Goldchild Ivy, a sub-variety of English Ivy. Photographed by Ildar Sagdejev.
It comes in many sub-varieties, including:
- Duckfoot: has red stems and is named after its small green leaves that take on the shape of a duck’s foot. Duckfoot thrives in small pots and containers, meaning that they are ideal for the indoors.
- Ivalace: This elegant English ivy variety has curly leaves, which take on a lacy, cupped shape. No wonder why it won the 2011 Ivy of the Year Award by the American Ivy Society!
- Needlepoint: If you’re looking for an expensive-looking ivy to hang from a hanging basket, this one might just be for you! Needlepoint ivy has dark green leaves with thin, pointed lobes, which gives the plant an ornate look. You can try a variegated version too.
- Goldchild: Just as the name infers, Goldchild ivy is a variegated english ivy with small, bright, golden yellow edges. If you’re a fan of variegated plants, this could be an ideal indoor ivy to choose.
- Shamrock Ivy: produces little flowers as well as black berries. It’s named after its small leaves, which are shaped like shamrocks! Other common names for this ivy include clover-leaf ivy and Hedera helix.
CareUnlike some ivy species, English ivy is a popular indoor ivy choice because it grows well in partial to full shade. These plants like their soil on the drier side, so check for dryness before watering. English Ivy will tolerate even poor soils, but well-draining mixes are ideal for their growth. Fertilizer should be applied every two weeks during spring and summer unless the plant is living under stressful conditions. Be sure to check out our guide to the top five fertilizer mistakes if you wanted some more information on proper fertilizer technique.
Algerian IvyAlgerian ivies are native to western and island regions of Africa. These evergreen vines are also commonly referred to as Canary Island Ivy or Madeira Ivy. This category of ivy often comes variegated, but will become completely green if planted in very shaded areas.
Algerian Ivy, photographed by Emőke DénesSome of these varieties include:
- Gloire de Marengo: If big, luscious, heart-shaped leaves are calling your name, you might enjoy Gloire de Marengo. This Ivy has grey-green leaves lined with delicate white edges.
- Canary Cream: Similar to Gloire de Marengo, the Canary Cream also has large leaves. However, it typically comes with greater amounts of variegation.
CareAlgerian Ivy enjoys some sun, and thrives anywhere with full shade or partial sun. They enjoy neutral, well-draining soil just like their English counterparts, but can tolerate salt and can therefore be planted in coastal areas! Algerian Ivy is drought tolerant, but you will observe more vivid colors in their leaves with regular watering. Proper care can also lead to blooms in the spring! For more information on how to care for variegated ivy indoors, including Algerian Ivy, read SF Gate’s article here.
Buttercup IvyThere are few Ivy varieties out there that look as cheerful as Buttercup ivy. This ivy species boasts broad leaves that come in bright yellow-green when grown in high-light environments. They even produce little flowers of a similar color every year!
Buttercup Ivy of the Chanticleer Garden. Photographed by Derek Ramsey.
CareJust like Algerian Ivy, Buttercup Ivy tolerates a range of conditions (and even pollution!) but prefers to make home in partial shade or partial sun. More sun should be allowed if you want to see brighter yellow colors, as a lack of sun causes Buttercup Ivy to darken. Ideally, Buttercup Ivy should be planted in well draining soil that is kept moist. Proper care leads to small blooms and even black, decorative fruit! We would advise against eating it though - most Ivy is toxic to humans and animals. Shoot Gardening’s website includes a comprehensive guide to Buttercup Ivy care. Read it here.
Boston/Japanese IvyJust like the name suggests, Boston or Japanese Ivy is commonly found in New England! This category of ivy boasts shiny green leaves that take on a similar shape to maple tree leaves. These leaves are also lined with a thin red trim. Though they can quickly take over an outdoor area if planted in the ground, it is possible to plant this ivy in containers as an indoor plant.
Boston Ivy in Autumn, photographed by Y. G. Lulat.