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Popular Houseplant Profiles: H

Hedera helix - English Ivy

Hedera helix; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/cristina.sanvito
Hedera helix; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/cristina.sanvito

This well-loved evergreen can be grown outdoors as a ground cover or vine or indoors as a trailing vine. It is so versatile that it can be easily trained in a topiary form.

Cultural Requirements

Light:

Hedera needs bright light and will retain its best foliage color with one to two hours of direct sunlight in winter but no direct sunlight in summer.

Temperature:

English ivy grows best in temperatures around 65º F during the day and 50º F at night.

Humidity:

A relative humidity above 50% is preferred to successfully grow ivy indoors. Provide additional humidity by misting twice daily. An excellent method of providing extra moisture is to stand plants on shallow trays filled with moistened pebbles and/or use a humidifier.

Feeding:

Feed the ivy only during the growing season (March through September) with a dilute, standard, liquid fertilizer every two weeks.

Transplanting:

When roots begin to grow out of the bottom of the container, it is time to transplant the ivy into the next largest size pot. Use a soil mixture of one part sterilized houseplant potting soil, one part peat moss and one part sand/or perlite.

Propagation:

Ivy propagates readily by 4" to 5"stem cuttings. Make a stem cutting just below an existing leaf node and remove all bottom leaves before rooting. The cuttings easily root in water or in a moistened, light mixture of peat moss with sand/or perlite. Be sure to change the water often to discourage the formation of algae and bacteria.

Maintenance:

Healthy plants require regular cleaning, pinching and checking for diseases and insects. Monitor plants regularly for infestation. Cut away any weak or spindly growth in early spring and trim back very long shoots as necessary.

Special Note:

To dislodge and discourage spider mites, place the entire plant under running water once a month.

Hippeastrum - amaryllis

Hippeastrum 'Charisma'; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/xulescu_g
Hippeastrum 'Charisma'; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/xulescu_g

Hippeastrum is a bulbous plant with strap-like foliage. Commonly known as amaryllis, it is prized for its beautiful trumpet shaped flowers that come in a wide variety of colors. This South American native is easy to care for and can be forced into bloom again and again for many years to come.

Cultural Requirements

Light:

Amaryllis need bright light, with one to two hours of sunlight in winter. Keep out of the direct rays of sun in summer.

Watering:

When the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water after 15 minutes since wet soil will cause the bulb to rot.

Temperature:

This plant grows best in 65º F during the day and 50º F at night.

Feeding:

Feed monthly with a dilute, water soluble fertilizer to supply the bulb with enough nutrients for next year's flowers.

Transplanting:

After foliage yellows completely, store potted bulb in a cool, 55 to 60º F, dry place. When the bulb begins to show signs of growth, repot to the next larger size pot. Use a soil mixture of equal parts sterilized houseplant potting soil high in organic matter, peat moss and sand/or perlite with plenty of broken clay shards for good drainage at the bottom of the pot. Place your newly potted bulb in light and begin watering.

Propagation:

Detach the small bulblets, which grow at the base of the parent bulb, when they are about 1" to 1½" across. Be sure to keep a good root system with each offset bulb. Plant young bulbs in small containers at the same time the bulb is transplanted.

Maintenance:

Remove faded flowers but leave flower stalk and foliage alone.

Special Note:

If possible, bring your potted bulbs outdoors for the summer after all danger of frost is past. Keep them in areas of morning sun or light shade to prevent burning of foliage. In winter, be sure to keep the foliage away from a cold windowpane as leaves can freeze.

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