Tips for Outdoor Ivy Plants That Are Dying

The English ivy plant (Hedera helix) is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa, but is grown nationwide in the United States, according to the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group. English ivy is an evergreen vine plant that attaches itself to various structures and trees. English ivy is considered an invasive species and unwanted in many areas, but is also a popular ornamental plant. Poor environmental conditions and various diseases can kill the hearty growing English ivy.

Phytophthora Root Rot

Caused by the fungal pathogen, Phytophthora palmivora, root rot of the ivy plant can be a potentially deadly disease to English ivy plants. The fungus invades the plant through the underground root system. During periods of heavy rain or stagnant water buildup in the soil, the fungus reproduces and attacks vulnerable plants, including the ivy. According to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, symptoms of a root rot infection consist of leaf wilt, plant wilt, root die-back and discoloration on both the leaves and stems of the plant. The fungal pathogen can also infect damp leaves above-ground, which leaves lesions and discoloration on the leaf surfaces. Control for root rot of ivy plants consists of using well-drained soil and fungicide.

Soil Nutrient Levels

All plants need a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for healthy growth. These nutrients are primary macronutrients found in all organic and inorganic fertilizers. Although the English ivy does not require high nutrient levels, N-P-K ratios in soil should be 1:1:1, 2:1:2 or 3:1:2 for healthy growth, states the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Poor soil nutrient levels can lead to weak plant growth, susceptibility to pests and diseases and plant death, according to the Soil Science Education website from NASA. Soil tests, done by university-based or private labs, help determine how much fertilizer, if any, to add to soil for ivy plants.


Mealybugs are small, unarmored scale insects that are common in humid, moist climates. These insects feed on plants in small masses that appear white and cotton-like. According to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, symptoms of a mealybug infection consists of stunted plant growth, sooty mold infection and localized plant death. Although mealybugs rarely do enough damage to the English ivy to kill the entire plant, the insects are responsible for unsightly death on certain areas of the plant. Treating a mealybug infection consists of using synthetic insecticides on the soil around the plant. However, good soil drainage is required to prevent phytoxicity, states the university's institute.

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