Underwatered English Ivy – Signs and How To Revive

Underwatered English Ivy - Signs and How To Revive

English ivy plants, with the scientific name Hedera helix, are woody, evergreen, perennial vines. Also known as common ivy or European ivy, they are fast growers and make a good ground cover. They can also cover walls, fences, trellises and trees. These plants are toxic to both humans and animals. Like most plants, English ivy will be susceptible to the effects of underwatering if its watering needs are neglected for too long. 

Underwatered English ivy – Signs and how to revive

Signs of underwatered English ivy 

  1. The leaves turn yellow or brown. 

The leaves of an underwatered English ivy plant will turn yellow and eventually brown due to extreme dehydration. Water is used not only for hydration, but also to transport nutrients throughout the plant. This means that if the plant is deprived of water, it will also suffer from a nutrient deficiency, which can result in leaf discoloration. 

  1. The leaves become dry and crispy.

This can be due to underwatering or from being grown under direct sunlight. The leaves will dry out and become crispy after a long period without water, but this can also happen due to being scorched by the sun. While these plants can tolerate some direct sun, too much could damage their foliage. Also keep in mind that plants in full sun will need more water than those in partial shade, as they will dehydrate faster from the heat of the sun. 

  1. The plant wilts

If your plant is wilting, it is a sign that the root system has become compromised or is dying from drought stress. It is no longer able to transport water to the rest of the plant, resulting in wilting due to a lack of water in the plant tissue. If the roots are still alive, you may be able to save the plant. Remove it from the soil and check for roots that are firm and pale. If they are all shriveled and dry, they are probably dead and the plant cannot be saved.

How to revive underwatered English ivy

To revive your underwatered English ivy, you will need to water it thoroughly as soon as possible, and then adjust your watering schedule to one more suitable for the plant. If it is in a pot, you can stand the pot in a bath or basin of water for about 30-45 minutes to allow the soil to absorb the water from the bottom. When the top layer of soil starts to look moist, you can remove the pot from the water and allow any excess water to drain out.

The plant can take days or weeks to bounce back to health, depending on how severely underwatered it was. Try to keep it out of direct sunlight during this time to facilitate a faster recovery.

To avoid underwatering in the future, you will need to be more vigilant and try to achieve the ideal soil moisture balance for yoru English ivy. The correct schedule will depend on your local weather conditions and climate, but generally, a thorough soak at least once a week is ideal. This provides the plant with ample water while still allowing the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. 

If you live in a place with a dry climate or low humidity, you may need to water your English ivy a little more often. It is fine for the surface of the soil to feel dry, but ideally it should not dry out completely around the roots. Nor should there be too much water, as the roots should never be surrounded by boggy soil. If the plant is in a pot, water it until you see excess water flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom, as this means that the water has reached all the roots. 

The plant’s pot should also be an appropriate size. Larger pots have more soil capacity and can therefore retain more moisture, which is useful when temperatures are high. A larger pot also prevents the roots from becoming pot-bound, and the extra soil provides more nutrients. However, a pot that is too large may retain too much water, which can cause overwatering, so do not go overboard when selecting a larger size.

Cut back any brown or dying plant parts to stimulate new growth. Leaves that have already turned brown are less likely to survive, and by pruning them away you will allow the plant to focus its resources on new, healthy growth and recovery. 

English ivy is a woodland climber that prefers partial sun, shade, or dappled light. To revive a shriveled and underwatered plant, move it to an area with bright, indirect light or a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. If the plant has become accustomed to a certain spot and is then moved to a more sunny area, its leaves may look scorched and the plants might look as if it is dying. If you want to move your plant to a sunnier area, it is better to gradually expose it to more and more sunlight by moving it to a sunnier spot for just a few hours a day to begin with. This will help it adjust to the differing light levels better than if it is suddenly moved from shade to full sun. 

The sun will also increase the evaporation of water from the soil, as well as the loss of water from the leaves through transpiration. Monitor the plant to ensure that the soil does not become too dry, and increase the watering frequency accordingly.

English Ivy plant care

English ivy is a great ground cover for preventing soil erosion, especially on hillsides. It also does well when planted in baskets or containers where its vines can hang down. These perennials thrive in part to full shade, such as when planted under trees, and they have a dense growth habit. They prefer bright, indirect light during summer, but could tolerate direct light during the winter. 

This plant likes well-draining soil. Mulch can be used to help keep the soil moist in dry climates. Indoor plants grow well in loose, well-draining potting mix. 

When watering, always check the soil before watering your plant. It prefers to be slightly on the dry side, so allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Try to keep the soil moist but not soggy, and see to it that both the soil and the pot have good drainage. The roots should not be kept in standing water or in overly wet soil. 

English ivy likes temperatures of 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves become dark green when temperatures are steady and humidity is medium to high. They do not like the winter cold or the high summer heat. 

Ideally, keep indoor plants at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some species do well even during winter. 

Fertilize the plants at least every two weeks during spring and summer, ideally with a 2-2-2 organic formula. Avoid fertilizing if the plant is stressed, such as during erratic or extreme weather or if the soil is very dry. 


English ivy is a fast-growing evergreen perennial that has become popular as an indoor plant. Take some precautions when handling it, because it is toxic to humans and animals. 

If its watering needs are neglected for too long, your English ivy will start to succumb to the effects of underwatering. Signs of this include yellowing leaves which eventually turn brown, and shrivelled or scorched leaves. 

To revive your underwatered plant, give it a thorough soak immediately and at least once a week thereafter. This frequency will give the soil time to dry out a bit before the next watering, so that the roots also have access to oxygen. Also ensure that the plants’ pot is an appropriate size, and place it where it can get bright, indirect light. 

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