Devil's Ivy Care Guide
by Joshua Tynan Sep 13, 2019
Devils Ivy is a must-have member of your plant collection. It has been one of the top indoor plants for several decades, not just because of how easy they are to grow, but for the fact that you can shape and train their vines to cover the inside of your house! These are very rapidly growing plant and can grow several metres a year, meaning you can very quickly turn your house into your dream jungle.
The most important question is, how will you display your Devil’s Ivy? They are happy to be in a hanging pot, or sit on a high shelf to trail downwards, but you can also train them up your wall or across a surface. Use clear stick-on hooks that are normally for hanging picture frames to guide your plant wherever you like. The aerial roots of the ivy won’t damage plaster walls, as they will only dig into moist materials such as tree trunks, soil, and moss.
Devil’s Ivy is very easy plant to care for and can easily be left alone for weeks without any care. Typically too much attention is their number one killer.
LightDevil’s Ivy is a very low-light tolerant plant. If the room you are thinking of using has a window, then you most likely have enough light. In a darker space, the plant will grow slower and need less water, but it will definitely adapt. It’s best not to move it into a brighter space to give it extra light for a short time,this will only hurt the plant as the sudden extra sunlight can burn its leaves.
Some minimal direct sun is fine, but they easily thrive without it and grow very fast in any well-lit space. (I usually think of a space with enough natural light that you could comfortably read a book.)
In the wild, these plants grow on the forest floor or on the side of a tree, so they are always in a shaded/dappled sunlight position.
WaterGenerally, you can water your Ivy when half the soil is dry in the warmer months, and when all the soil is dry in the colder months. The time between watering will vary but it could be as often as once a week in the peak of summer or once a month in the dead of winter.
The great thing about this plant is that it will very visibly wilt when it’s desperate for water! At this point, you still have another few weeks to do anything. Essentially no damage will occur from under-watering your plant, so it is always better to err on the side of too dry than too wet (which will quickly kill your plant.) After a while you will figure out the signs and use your past experience to know when it is time to water before the plant wilts.
To fully hydrate the soil, make sure to soak your plant. Check out this guide on watering to learn more.
Pot SizeWhen we look at the natural habit of this plant, we are able to see that it only needs a very small amount of space to grow into an enormous size. A standard 200mm nursery pot can easily support the plant even when it is 10-20m long! For this plant a larger pot does not equal a larger plant. Usually a larger pot will mean excess soil which stays wet for longer, leading to root rot.
I recommend that you make an aesthetic choice when choosing your pot as you won’t need to change it for a few years. When it comes to vining plants like this, choosing a decorative pot that is roughly the same size (a little smaller is fine) or an inch bigger if the plant is nice and root bound already.
These plants like to be cramped and actually prefer to have their roots nice and tight in the pot. If the pot is too large the plant may die, or it will stop growing leaves and spend all its time just growing roots to fill up its new pot which could take up to a year. Even if your plant has roots spilling out of the pot, it does not need a larger pot.
SoilThere are many different soil mixes that work for devil's ivy. The key factor is usually that the mix is well draining and allows for good airflow. While a standard premium potting mix works fine, a slightly better draining mix like a cacti mix, or orchid mix can provide better assurance that you aren’t going to keep your plant too wet. There are several more specialty substrates you can try but these are a really great place to start.
Totems (Climbing)In the wild, Devil’s Ivy, will grow across the ground, find a tree, and then climb up the trunk by sending aerial roots into the tree’s bark. They can sense the humidity coming off the tree and soil and dig their roots in. The plant will travel out across a branch until it gets to the end, where it will start to hang back down to the forest floor.
Either of these three growing habits work great for the devil’s ivy, but once allowed to grow up a tree or totem the plant activates a little-known secret. The leaves can actually grow more than a metre long and will develop fenestration (holes in the leaf) similar to its cousin the Monstera deliciosa. Once they sense that they have vertical support they rapidly transform, but without the support they return to a smaller size.
TemperatureWhile E. aureum can survive outdoors in the warmer months, but it will suffer greatly in a Melbourne Winter so it best to find them a permanent home inside. During Winter, it is best to move your ivy away from the window as the cold air coming off the glass can be too cold for them and cause the older leaves on the plant to drop off (defoliation). This is usually only necessary during the worst parts of winter. The plant won’t die if you don’t move it but it may be a bit bald on top.
To help keep your plant warmer, make sure to minimize watering in Winter. Dry soil is warmer.
Your house or apartment is never going to get too hot for your devil’s ivy. If the space does get very warm over summer your plant will most likely just use more water and grow faster. If you have concerns the best thing you can do is raise the humidity around your plants. It’s also worthwhile to keep in mind that afternoon direct sun can be fine in Winter but burn in Summer.
HumidityDevil’s ivy do perfectly well with Melbourne’s low humidity although they do enjoy muggy weather. It is unnecessary to mist (or raise the humidity) but if you have time you can go for it!
Aquatic GrowthPlants in this family are often able to be grown in a vase of water or to have roots and vines trained into water. Make sure to change the water regularly to avoid any algae growth and to add a very weak dilution of fertiliser into the fresh water so that plant can absorb nutrients.
Family Ties (Nomenclature)The scientific name for Devil’s Ivy is Epipremnum aureum. This means it is a member of the genus Epipremnum, which is a part of the family Araceae (aka Aroids.) This family includes Monstera, Philodendrons, and Spathiphyllum (peace lilies). All these plants have very similar care requirements making it very easy to add these plants to your indoor plant collection.
Devil’s Ivy was named Pothos aureus until the early 60s but after fresh examination the plant was renamed. This is why it is often inaccurately given the name Pothos even though it is not a member of that genus.
Watch this space for our Devil’s Ivy Propagation Guide!
Greener House is an indoor plant nursery based in Melbourne, Australia. Find us at 95 Sydney Road, Brunswick. We focus on houseplants but also stock a great range of pots, and accessories!
Check out these photos for some inspiration!