Ivy Leaves Dry and Crispy

Ivy Leaves Dry and Crispy

Ivy is a popular plant that is typically used as a groundcover or made to grow up a trellis in the backyard. It is a low-maintenance plant that can grow well with minimal attention, while also adding a pop of life to your home.

One of the common problems encountered by ivy owners is when their plant’s leaves turn dry and crispy.

The most common reasons for this are too much water, too much fertilizer, insufficient light, low humidity, high temperatures, pests, or a buildup of minerals in the soil.

In this article, we will discuss each of these causes and how you can fix them. So, if you are having this problem with your ivy, keep reading to learn more.

Why are my ivy’s leaves turning dry and crispy?

Too much water

When you see dry, crispy ivy leaves, you might assume that this is due to a lack of water, which is a reasonable guess. But in the case of the ivy plant, these symptoms are most likely due to overwatering. Thus, your attempt to fix the issue by giving the ivy more water may, in fact, make the problem worse.

Ivy plants like their soil to be a little drier than most, and if you give them too much water it can cause root rot.

Root rot is a condition caused by prolonged exposure of the roots to waterlogged soil so that eventually they drown. The dead roots will start to rot and will be susceptible to soil-borne pathogens which will cause the rot to spread even faster until all of the roots succumb.

With no viable roots, the plant will no longer be able to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil. This will affect the leaves, turning them brown and dry, especially around the edges.

To avoid dry and crispy leaves from overwatering, you need to let the soil around the plant’s roots dry out before you even think about watering it again. Touch the top two inches of soil in the pot: if the soil is dry, water the plant, but if it is still a bit damp, wait one or two days before checking again.

Make sure that the pot you choose for your ivy has drainage holes at the bottom, and that they are not clogged with soil or pebbles. The drainage holes will let any excess water flow out and instead of stagnating around the plant’s roots.

Too much fertilizer

Although ivy planted in the garden does not require fertilizing, it is a good idea to feed a potted ivy plant with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to keep it healthy. However, timing is critical here, because too much fertilizer can cause a salt buildup in the potting mix and cause leaf scorch. The ivy leaves will turn brown, dry out, and become crunchy.

Spring, summer, and fall, when new growth is emerging, is the time to fertilize the plant. Do not fertilize it in winter, because this is when your ivy will be in its dormant phase and will not require as many nutrients as when it is actively growing.

Fertilize your plant once a month, using a liquid fertilizer.

Insufficient light

Regardless of whether you have a variegated or an all-green variety of ivy, it will grow in medium to bright light. Direct sunlight is not tolerated by any of the ivy varieties.

A young ivy plant requires extra care when it comes to light exposure. Avoid placing it near a bright, direct light source because it is prone to burning. It’s not a good idea to leave a young plant on a windowsill for the majority of the day.

Keep in mind that if you keep your indoor ivy in a poorly-lit location, its growth will slow. If it is too dark, your plant may eventually die.

Low humidity

Moderate humidity is ideal for ivy plants. They can thrive in the normal, lower levels of humidity found in most homes, but extremely dry air can cause the edges of their leaves to dry out and turn brown.

Also, avoid overcrowding your ivy plants in order to ensure that they receive adequate air circulation. You can keep ivy in the bathroom if you want to.

Additionally, purchasing a mister and placing it next to your plant is a good idea. Every time you pass, you can spray your plant with water to provide it with additional moisture.

Alternatively, the old-fashioned humidity tray method can be used; all you need is a saucer and some pebbles. Arrange the pebbles in the saucer, pour water around them, then place your potted ivy on top of the pebbles. The water will evaporate, increasing the humidity in the area surrounding your plant. 

High temperature

It is important to remember that ivy prefers temperatures in the cool to moderate range. This plant is native to Europe’s central and northern regions, where it flourishes in cool climates.

If your room temperature is too hot, it can be detrimental for your ivy. Try to keep the temperature between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit lower than that overnight.

You could consider placing your plant in a separate room, or in the kitchen, where it will be able to stay cooler.

Pest infestation

Although pest infestations are rare on outdoor ivy plants, they can occur. This generally happens for one of two reasons: your plant is either underwatered or it needs to be washed.

If the plant does not receive adequate water, it will become stressed and therefore weakened, which leaves it more vulnerable to pest infestations and diseases.

Moreover, if you do not give your plant a regular wash, dust and pests can accumulate on and behind the leaves.

Spider mites are the most common pests to attack ivy. They are tiny and black, and you can tell they are there by the small webs they leave under the leaves. Spider mites feed on the sap from the plant’s foliage, causing the leaves to turn brown and dry.

Washing your plant on a regular basis will help to keep pests away. All you need to do is place your plant in the shower and allow the water to run over it for a couple of minutes.

If you notice spider mites on your ivy, half-fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid and spray this on your plant.

Keep the infested plant away from your other, healthy plants while you treat it, so that the pests do not spread.

Buildup of minerals

We have talked about the build-up of nutrients that can occur when you use an excessive amount of fertilizer. A similar situation occurs if you use tap water that contains a large number of mineral salts, which can cause an accumulation of salts in the soil.

A salt buildup in the soil can cause your plant’s leaf edges to burn, leaving them dry and crispy. 

Fortunately, you can easily resolve this situation. Replant your affected ivy in fresh potting soil and, from now on, only use distilled water to avoid further damage.

If you are able to collect rainwater, that is an even better alternative to distilled water; plus, it is free.


Ivy is a popular plant often grown as a groundcover or made to climb a trellis outside the house, but it can also be grown as an indoor plant.

It is low-maintenance and therefore perfect for those wanting a plant that does not need too much care and attention.

One of the most common problems encountered by ivy owners is dry, crispy leaves on their plants. The most common causes of this problem are too much water, too much fertilizer, insufficient light, low humidity, high temperatures, pests, or a buildup of minerals in the soil.

Image: istockphoto.com / izzzy71