The Trailing Ivy Experiment

Part of my new found passion for creating an indoor jungle was the desire to have lots of lovely trailing plants. I, of course, had no idea exactly what sort of trailing plants were available, what they liked and/or needed, or what might be required to keep them alive.

This has been true for all my plants, and my success has been… variable?

Buni Comic © 2018 Ryan Pagelow

I’ve mentioned my lessons in overwatering and my war against fucking fungus gnats. For all that I love having plants, I’m still learning how to keep plants.

So it was probably a little foolhardy of me to decide to trim some of the ivy holding up my back garden shed (that is so dilapidated I’m afraid the ivy is all there is holding it together) to try my hand at propagating my own trailing plants.

I mean, there’s enough ivy there to fuck up a few times before I get it right, so what’s the harm?

It’s questions like that the universe likes to answer with a wicked sense of humour.

I trimmed a few… fronds? Branches? Vines? Arms? Legs? I took some cuttings! I trimmed back some leaves until only a couple remain around the top and set them all in water.

At worst I figured I’d just have a nice bouquet of ivy leaves to decorate my bathroom until they died and rotted away, at which point I might remember to throw them out.

Imagine my surprise – me, with the brown thumbs! – when I noticed some roots forming!

This was in April, after I’d put the cuttings in water in late February. The roots could have been there since March but I just didn’t notice. I’m sharp like that.

A couple of weeks ago I went through the cuttings and discarded those that hadn’t started rooting and gave those that were a fresh jar of water to marinate in until I got around to the next step, which is to transfer them into pots with soil and whatnot.

With my track record of plant death being what it is, I put this step off for as long as I could get away with not thinking about it. What actually prompted me to get on with it is needing more space in my bathroom, so the jar of ivy cuttings had to be evicted.

Now, I have no idea if I did the right thing, but I’m putting my process down here as much to record it for myself as a place for people who know better to correct me and point out all my fuck-ups.

There was probably a score of YouTube videos or tutorial blog posts out there that might have provided some guidance, but no, it’s better to fail on my own than follow a script to the letter and still fuck it up! (Stay tuned for some posts about my excursions into baking!)

Transferring water-propagated ivy to pots

First, a handful or two of gravel. Apparently, this is useful for drainage and helps prevent root rot – something I’ve had to learn about after my adventures in overwatering.

A few clods of fungus-gnat-free potting mix (seriously, don’t get bags with holes or you’ll have blizzards of these fuckers patrolling your house).

I don’t know where I read it but I remember reading that ivy cuttings like horticultural sand (how that’s different to regular beach or river sand beyond the cost, I don’t know) so a couple of handfuls of that.


More potting mix.

More expensive sand.

More mixing.

Perlite, which all this time I’d believed was some semi-precious gemstone? This is more like a combination of pumice and beanbag beans. Also supposed to help with drainage (or something).


Some nifty nuggets of nutrition – aka plant food made from or by worms (the container doesn’t make that clear) and looks a lot like little pellets of poo.

Slow Support Release Pellets from We The Wild

More mixing then some more potting mix.

More sand.

One last mix.

Then start poking holes in the concoction with a chopstick (handy gardening implements, those) and start shoving… wait, no, you need to spend like a week untangling the roots that have been sharing a jar for months, then you can start shoving your cuttings into the holes you’ve made with your chopstick.

Note: root-end first.

Spray with something to protect them from fucking fungus gnats and encourage them to go.

Protect Spray with Neem from We The Wild

I had three of the variegated ivy and put them all in a cream-coloured pot to match the cream-coloured tints in the leaves.

And I had five or six of the green-leaved variety and put together in a different pot, following the same process as above.

Now, I wait for them to die – and clean up my messy bathroom!

PS – I am not an affiliate of We The Wild, but it would be rude to post about their products without linking them.

So, wotcha think?

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