How to Trim Ivy as a Houseplant

The classic evergreen foliage of ivy (Hedera helix) is popular for use as a houseplant. The low height but sprawling, dangling stems add grace to home decor, but over time they eventually reach lengths that require trimming. Reducing stem length with hand pruners or household scissors is easily accomplished and can be a proactive measure done every spring to ensure the ivy remains an appropriate size.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Scissors

Instructions

    • 1

      Avoid pruning the ivy houseplant in the short days of winter. The plant naturally slows its growth at this time of year and will not respond quickly with new leaves and stems. However, if the size of the ivy warrants immediate trimming, expect little regrowth from a wintertime pruning until the earliest weeks of spring.

    • 2

      Evaluate the ivy plant. Determine which stems are too long, are devoid of leaves, may be diseased or entirely dead. Some stems may have one or two leaves that need removal because of discoloration or being dead.

    • 3

      Trim dead or diseased stems with hand pruners or household scissors by clipping the stem 1/4 inch above a leaf or node, the scaled bump or scar left by an old leaf. Remove individual leaves on stems as needed if you see they are also dead or plagued with mold or an insect.

    • 4

      Reduce the length of the undesirably long stems back to 6 inches shorter than a perfect length. For example, a stem may be 36 inches long, and you wish to reduce it to 24 inches in length. Plan on making the pruning cut at 18 inches, snipping the stem 1/4 inch above a leaf or node.

    • 5

      Scan the plant after the initial round of trimmings. Turn the container and look for balance and overall attractiveness of the plant. If stems or leaves remain that are too long or brown, trim them as per Steps 1 to 3.

    • 6

      Fertilize lightly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at half the dosage rate per label directions. Granular or liquid fertilizer is acceptable. If pruning is done in early spring, fertilize at the full dosage per the label directions.

Tips & Warnings

  • An annual pruning maintenance on your ivy vine is ideally conducted in early spring, just before the plant would naturally increase its growth. Trimming results in side buds to form new stem tips, creating a specimen plant that is fuller, with more leaves and graceful branches.
  • Low ambient humidity in the home can cause foliage and stem tips to brown readily. Increase humidity by grouping houseplants near one another or setting the container atop a small tray of pebbles filled with water.
  • Do not over water houseplants; it promotes fungal diseases and root rot. Ivy appreciates an evenly moist soil, never bone dry or soggy wet.
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