English ivy is grown as a trailing vine and ground cover that gives an area a rich, lush appearance. If you plan to take your ivy outside, you must know if it can survive the winter. Let’s find out.
English Ivy plants are sturdy, grow well into USDA zone 5, and can adapt themselves to survive winters. Still, if your region experiences frost and freezing temperatures, your ivy will have a hard time. To protect and help it survive, you must bring it indoors and reduce watering.
Let us now discuss the primary problems that your plant undergoes in winters and suggest to you the care tips you should follow to help your English to survive through the winters.
Table Of Contents
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Can English ivy grow in winter?
English ivy is amongst the hardy plants that adapt to various conditions.
English ivy thrives in much of the United States through USDA hardiness zones 5 through 11.
They grow the best in temperatures between 70-90°F but can tolerate low temperatures in the northern regions.
However, such low temperatures might affect your ivy’s health.
Therefore, give the plant the necessary care if you reside in areas experiencing freezing winters.
Common problems of English ivy in winter
To keep your English ivy thriving and happy through the winters, you must provide the plant with the care it needs.
The plant shows various signs of stress if exposed to extreme cold.
- Wilting: Low humidity, cold weather, lack of sunlight, etc., might be the reasons behind wilting. Whenever I see my ivy wilt, I understand it is undergoing some stress. I look into it carefully and treat the problem.
- Low light: A primary concern in winters is the low intensity of the sunlight. The plant can become leggy or weak if it doesn’t get enough light.
- Low humidity: English ivy doesn’t like dry air. They need at least 40% humidity to thrive. In winters, the air is dry, which causes several problems like drooping leaves, dry leaves, and so on.
- Low temperatures: English ivy is a hardy plant that can tolerate winters through zones 5-11. However, if you live in regions with freezing winters and hard frost, the ivy might not be able to cope.
- Overwatering: A major cause of plants dying in winters is overwatering. In the winter, the plant hibernates, and its growth reduces largely, reducing its need for water. Also, the evaporation decreases due to the lower light intensity, which is why the soil stays wet for longer than in spring or summer. So if you maintain the same watering schedule as in summer, your ivy will get overwatered.
- Stunted growth: In severe winters, English ivy plants may get into severe hibernation mode, where their growth reduces and stops producing new growth. Multiple unsuitable factors like low light, cold, low humidity, etc., force the plant to reduce its growth.
- Overfertilization: Plant owners make a serious mistake: they fertilize their plants in winter. In winters, due to the lower rate of activity, the English ivy reduces its growth. In this situation, adding fertilizer to the soil keeps it unused. This leads to salt build-ups and root burn in the roots and the plant.
- Pest infestation: The low light, overwatering, and low temperatures increase the chance of pest infestation. English ivy is prone to bugs like mealy bugs, scales, thrips, aphids, and spider mites.
How do you keep English ivy alive in the winter?
You can help your ivy survive the winter by providing the right care.
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1. Reduce watering your ivy
Your watering schedule must change with the season.
In winters, the water requirements decrease drastically since the soil remains wet for longer due to lower evaporation.
Overwatering kills a lot of houseplants in winters.
So, you must cut down the watering.
Otherwise, your English ivy will get overwatered.
Also, empty the cache tray or plates under the pots where the water gets collected after watering.
Let the soil completely dry in between watering during winters.
If you are unsure, use a moisture meter to measure the moisture content in the soil.
Also, remember not to use hot or cold water on your plant as it can shock the plant more. Water your ivy with room temperature water.
2. Provide enough light to your ivy
Light is the most important factor that helps plants make food for their growth.
In winters, due to the low light intensity, the photosynthesis level of the plant reduces, leading to stunted growth.
Here are some tips to help you choose the ideal spot for your ivy:
- Move the English ivy plant to a spot where it will get a few hours of bright direct sunlight and indirect light for the rest of the day.
- An east-facing window or balcony will get direct sunlight in the morning and give the plant much-needed warmth.
- You can also choose a south-facing spot that receives a lot of bright light throughout the day.
- Do not keep the ivy near frosty window panes, as that will further stress the plant.
- Always keep the leaves clean to absorb as much energy as possible. Dusty leaves clog the pores, reducing the plant’s light absorption capacity.
- If you think the sunlight in your house is insufficient, install artificial lights.
- Rotate your ivy every week, so all the sides get even light, and the plant does not bend to one side in search of light.
3. Take care of the humidity
Lack of humidity can cause stress for your plants, resulting in the plants getting dehydrated, shedding leaves, and drooping.
English ivy requires around 40-50% humidity around them which is not always available naturally, especially in the dry cold winters.
I mist my English ivy plant thrice every week in winter or use a humidifier to maintain humidity.
Let us understand a few ways to increase the humidity:
- Humidifier: The best way to increase humidity around plants is with the help of a humidifier. It’s a device that has to be filled with water and kept near the plants. The water evaporates, making the area humid and comfortable for plants.
- Grouping: Grouping the moisture-loving plants is another effective way. Through this, the plants transpire and give out moisture which keeps the surrounding area humid.
- Pebble trays: Pebble trays are filled with a layer of pebbles and water on which the plant is kept. The water evaporates from the plate and increases the humidity around the plant.
- Misting: English ivy enjoys getting misted. It not only increases the humidity but also keeps the leaves clean. However, you must always mist in the morning so the leaves do not stay wet for a long time which can attract pests and fungus. Also, misting increases humidity only for a short period.
- Relocation: Relocating your English ivy to a humid area in the room like the kitchen or bathroom is another way to give it more humidity. But make sure the area has plenty of sunlight and ventilation.
4. Don’t expose your ivy to temperature fluctuations
Most houseplants, including English ivy, do not like frequent temperature fluctuations.
They enjoy a steady temperature between 70-90°F.
Here are a few points you must remember to maintain a steady temperature around the plant:
- Do not keep the plant where there are abrupt temperature changes.
- It is advisable to bring the ivy indoors if your region experiences extreme cold.
- If your ivy plant is growing outdoors, mulching the soil surface with dried leaves, straws, wood chips, twigs, etc., helps keep the soil warm.
- Do not keep the ivy near windows or doors with a cold breeze or near vents and drafts where cold winds will hit.
- Don’t keep the plant near a fireplace or heater, hoping to keep them warm as, on the contrary, it will suck the moisture out of your plant.
- If you want to keep them in the same room with a heater or fireplace, ensure a few feet of distance between them.
- Do not keep the plant where the leaves can get rubbed against frozen glass panes as that can give the plant cold injury leading to brown spots on the leaves.
5. Keep an eye out for pests
Chances of pest attacks are higher in winter due to low light and wet soil, but luckily there are ways to prevent and treat these infestations.
- A reason for pest attack is wet soil as pests breed on them. Do not keep the soil wet and let it dry in between watering.
- Whenever you mist the leaves, make sure you do it in the morning so that the water gets evaporated.
- Spray your plant with Neem oil periodically to repel and prevent pests and fungus.
- In case of bugs, spray neem oil or chemical pesticides to clear them off.
- Make sure the plant gets plenty of light and air circulation. Pest breeds more in damp stagnant air.
6. Cut off fertilization in winters
Many plant owners fertilize their plants in winter, expecting them to grow faster.
But this leads to root burn due to the salt accumulation in the soil.
Stop all forms of fertilizing from fall to winter.
As the plant stays less active, it cannot use the fertilizer, which leads to damage to the plant.
Feed your English ivy with a slow-release fertilizer once in March and once in September.
You can complement it with a liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing period.
The ideal NPK ratio for your English ivy is 20-20-20.
Resume fertilizing when spring arrives.
7. Do not repot
Repotting gives the plants much stress because they get uprooted from their present condition and shifted to a completely new pot and soil.
So the best time for repotting is the growing season when they can recover from the stress quickly.
In the winters, since they are already stressed due to the cold weather, repotting further shocks the plant, leading to injuries.
Repot the ivy only during the growing season unless there is a root rot or disease, in which case you need to be very cautious and observe whether it can recover from the stress.
8. Find an ideal spot
Finding the right spot for your ivy is important.
Because each area has different light and humidity settings inside our homes, selecting the best spot for your ivy is necessary.
I keep my English ivy in an open east-facing window where the morning sunlight directly hits the plant.
At the same time, I do not keep it too close to the frosted windows so that they stay warm.
Get artificial lights for your ivy for homes with lower light.
9. Prune the ivy before the onset of winters
English ivy is an aggressive grower and can get bushy and entangled if not taken care of.
Prune the plant just before the onset of winter.
This keeps the plant in shape and maintains its aesthetics.
Also, since the plant is low on energy in winters, keeping it compact will help it utilize its energy efficiently.
Prune the leggy areas, yellow and brown parts of the plant, and the extra branches.
But do not prune more than 25% of the plant at a time.
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Will English ivy come back after a hard freeze?
English ivy is a tough plant.
Though unfavorable conditions and low temperatures can damage it and cause cold injury, the chances are that it will bounce back once the temperatures start to warm up.
But if the plant gets exposed to hard frost for a prolonged period, it might be difficult to revive it.
Protecting the English ivy from frost is highly recommended to prevent this.
English ivy is a sturdy, elegant plant that grows fast without much care.
Though they are quite adaptable in winters, harsh cold can be difficult. So if your region experiences frost and intense cold, this article will be handy for you.
Just follow the few basic points like giving the plant a lot of sunlight, watering it less frequently, and a steady temperature and humidity will help your plant survive through the winters.
Reference: Researchgate, University of Tennessee, Mississippi State University, Central Florida Research and Education Center, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
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