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I find the English Ivy to be an attractive plant with its green, wonderful-shaped leaves. But I recently saw some of the leaves turning red and wanted to investigate what the problem was.

English Ivy can turn red because of a pest infestation, a lack of phosphorus in the soil, or if the soil pH is too far from neutral. It could also be that your English Ivy plant is actually Boston Ivy which naturally turns red in the fall.

I’ve written a lot more details about the different issues your English Ivy may face causing the leaves to turn red. So keep reading.

A Lack of Phosphorus in the Soil

Many plants change shades when there’s a lack of phosphorus in their soil. This happens because when there’s little to no phosphorus, there are more sugars, and the leaves tend to turn red at this point.

If there’s a lack of phosphorus, but there’s still some, this element will travel to new leaves, neglecting the older ones, which is why you may notice redness only in some leaves. The plant, in general, will suffer, and it will have slow growth.

A lack of phosphorus can happen for numerous reasons. Agricultural plants often suffer from it if there have been many rotations. However, horticultural plants like English Ivy lack phosphorus if the soil is of poor quality and doesn’t allow the phosphorus to be absorbed properly.

Test the soil before fertilizing and adding this element. If the soil allows it to be absorbed, add a cup of phosphorus fertilizer with slow absorption. Make sure that you add it to the area where the roots are. Check out the best phosphorous fertilizer on Amazon.com.

pH Too High or Too Low

The pH factor can affect phosphorus absorption as well. Phosphorus is a sensitive element and it will not respond well to pH values that stray too far from neutral.

If this happens, other minerals will react in a way that prevents phosphorus from being properly absorbed. Plants like English Ivy usually turn red when there’s a lack of it, especially if they are in need of more than the soil will allow.

Make sure that the soil is of a good pH level. Nothing too high or too low. Even slight changes could decrease absorption by as much as 30%. So, test the soil and then repot the plant if it’s in a pot.

If it’s in the ground, make sure that you change its spot or spread wood ashes over the ground where it’s placed to raise pH levels. Don’t add more phosphorus if the soil hasn’t been tested and you don’t know its pH value.

Too Much or Too Little Watering

While watering doesn’t directly cause red pigmentation, it does so indirectly, both when you overwater and underwater the plant.

And again, it has a lot to do with phosphorus. If there’s a lack of water for the plant, the nutrients will have a hard time moving to the leaves, causing the leaves’ redness.

If you overwater this plant, the nutrients can get trapped in the roots. The sugars build up as a result and you can see the redness of leaves.

Fluctuations In Temperature

No plant likes fluctuations in temperature or temperature extremes, and neither does English Ivy. The cool air of winter or fall can cause pigmentation in some cases, especially if the soil gets cold as well. The leaves might not be completely red in this case, but they might get a reddish tint.

A strong heat can also cause issues because it can dehydrate the plant and can cause pigmentation. If the soil doesn’t drain well, this can also cause issues.

Bacterial Leaf Spots

If the leaves’ redness isn’t present everywhere, but only in certain parts of the leaves, you most likely don’t have a soil or care problem, but rather a pest problem.

Various types of fungi or bacteria can cause leaf spots. Fungi most likely won’t cause the redness, but bacteria are more likely to do so.

If your leaves have brown spots with red corners on them, this might be the case. Getting rid of bacteria is a bit harder, and you have to work on your plant’s general health more to allow it to heal from these infections completely.

One thing that you could do immediately, though, is to stop the spreading. Pluck off the leaves that have been infected and burn them so that the infection doesn’t spread anywhere else.

Could Your English Ivy Actually Be Boston Ivy?

People commonly mistake one ivy plant for another. They look pretty similar, especially to an inexperienced eye.

If you have planted your Ivy during the warmer season, enjoying its beauty, but you noticed that it started turning red in the fall, you could have a Boston Ivy on your hands.

Boston Ivy isn’t evergreen, so it will turn red during the fall and the leaves will fall off eventually. At the same time, English Ivy will remain the same throughout the year, provided that it doesn’t have any health issues.

How to Care for English Ivy to Avoid Leaves Turning Red

English Ivy is a plant that can grow both indoors and outdoors, although it usually does better outside. It doesn’t like indoor conditions such as dryness or too much warmth. However, it can still be grown as an indoor plant with proper care.

This trailing plant loves to be in moist conditions, under bright light. Remember that during summer, it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight as it might dry out, especially with a lack of water. During winter, direct light may be okay for this plant, whether indoors or outdoors.

English Ivy needs good soil to grow in. It should be moist, as mentioned, but it shouldn’t retain water and turn soggy. Aim for good drainage, whether you keep it in a pot or not. The soil should be fertile and with plenty of nutrients.

Keep the soil moist at all times and don’t let it dry before watering again. Misting this plant is another good idea since it will help it thrive. It helps if you live in an area with a lot of rainfall over the year.

English Ivy loved moderate temperatures and mild weather conditions. It doesn’t like a strong wind, heat, or too much humidity. So, provide everything in moderation. If you keep your Ivy inside, make sure that you keep it in an area where it’s not too hot and dry for it.

Depending on the type of soil, this plant will need some fertilization as well, usually early in the spring, but it might need it later as well, as it experiences vigorous growth.

As mentioned, make sure that the soil has enough phosphorus for this plant to avoid any redness and test it to determine whether it’s causing any other issues for your English Ivy.


Before you start looking for solutions to the problems mentioned in this article, check to see what kind of Ivy you actually have on your hands. If it’s Boston ivy, you have nothing to worry about as the lush redness is one of its main features. But, if it’s not, you should get to the bottom of your issues.

For one, test the soil properly and make sure that the one you have is appropriate. Apply proper care routines for your English Ivy and give it enough nutrients so that it can thrive in your garden.


Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.

Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.

Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.

Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.

TrowelGarden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers

Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.

To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.