Epipremnum pinnatum: An Easy-care climbing artist

Epipremnum pinnatum 


The ivy (Epipremnum pinnatum) is a climbing and leaf-ornamental plant and belongs botanically to the arum family (Araceae). It is native to South East Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands, where it likes to run wild. We like to cultivate it as an indoor and office plant.


The evergreen ivy hen grows persistent and herbaceous. As a climbing plant, the ivy hawk forms shoots up to ten metres long if well cared for. This makes it just as suitable as a hanging basket plant as it is for greening room dividers, stair railings or walls in conservatories. In the trade it is often offered as a potted plant that grows up on a moss stick.

Oops, doppelganger! It is not uncommon to confuse the Common Ivy (Epipremnum pinnatum) with its relative, the Spotted Ivy (Scindapsus pictus, also Epipremnum pictum ‘Argyraeum’). Unlike Epipremnum pinnatum, however, the spotted ivy carries clearly silvery foliage with white spots. But the sisters are very similar in their care requirements.


The leathery leaves of the ivy hawk are heart-shaped and sit alternately on short stems. The young leaves are more symmetrical than the older ones. They often have a spotted or striped pattern in white, cream or yellow. The basic colour of the leaves also extends over various strong shades of green. Caution: The leaves of the ivy hawk contain calcium oxalate, a substance that irritates the skin and mucous membranes and must therefore never be eaten!


As an indoor plant, the ivy does not normally flower. This is because the genus Eprimemnum does not flower until the very large (wild up to one metre), perforated age leaves have developed, which does not normally happen in indoor growing. In its tropical habitat the ivy hen flowers on an inconspicuous greenish-white cylindrical cob.

Location and substrate

In our latitudes the ivy hen is a non-hardy thoroughbred houseplant and should be warm all year round at about 20 degrees and in winter not below 16 degrees. A light to semi-shady location without draughts and direct sunlight is ideal, but varieties with dark foliage are also suitable for darker places in the middle of the room or in the stairwell. The darker the ivy hive is, the less conspicuous its foliage pattern is. Variegated ivy hawk varieties need more light and should therefore be placed closer to the window. The ivy can be grown either as a climbing or hanging basket plant. Placed in hanging baskets, the ivy hawk weaves a dense curtain. With a little skill, it can be turned into a great room divider. But the ivy hawk also cuts an elegant figure on cupboards, wallboards or shelves. Since Epipremnum appreciates high humidity, she also likes to stand in the bathroom. Normal potting soil is suitable as substrate, but ivy hawks also grow well in hydroponics.


As far as the water supply is concerned, the ivy hen is extremely frugal. In the best case it is kept evenly and slightly moist. However, ivy hens can tolerate occasional dryness or longer watering intervals, so they are ideal for those who travel more often or forget their plants from time to time. In winter the water requirement decreases, less watering is needed. So that no water drips to the ground when watering, the traffic lights should have coasters or be tight. Pour water thoughtfully and pour off standing water when necessary, because ivy does not tolerate waterlogging. If the plant is permanently too wet, the roots will rot and the otherwise sturdy plants will suffer. Well-rooted plants can also be watered directly over the coaster. An occasional spray from the water jug increases the humidity and reduces the risk of spider mite infestation


Although the ivy hive is an extremely easy-care indoor plant that can do without fertilizer, for optimum care it should be given a weekly to fortnightly application of foliar fertilizer during the growing season between March and August.

Repotting and cutting

If the pot has become too small, the ivy can be repotted every two years. However, this is not absolutely necessary. When repotting, the old soil should be completely shaken off the roots and the root tips pruned back slightly. Pruning back the tendrils is possible at any time and will not harm the plant. If you cut off long shoots, the ivy branches better.


The variety ‘Aureum’, also called ‘Golden Ivy Guillemot’, is widespread and has apple-green leaves in a beautiful heart-shaped form with a beige or golden variegation. The ‘Marble Queen’ variety also has light green and white spotted leaves. It is almost indestructible and grows in every dark corner of the room. Golden Queen’ has a large golden yellow variegation. Epipremnum ‘N-Joy’ has green leaves with a high proportion of white, the variety ‘Wilcoxii’ has a yellow leaf pattern. It is somewhat more sensitive to its habitat conditions than the other varieties. Attention: As the ivy hawk reacts strongly to the available light with its leaf pattern, the varieties can be of different colours depending on the location!


The propagation of an ivy hen is very easy, because both head and shoot cuttings easily form roots in the water glass. The climbing plant is so undemanding that it can even be propagated in January. To do this, cut off individual shoots and place them in a water glass so that there is always a knot in the water, because that is where most of the roots are formed. If the roots are about two centimetres long, the cuttings can be planted. For a nice dense plant, it is best to put the cuttings in a pot in groups, because ivy do not form side shoots. Alternatively, cuttings can be grown directly in soil or hydroponics. Simply lower the aerial roots of the plant into pots filled with soil or expanded clay, which are placed next to the mother plant. When the plantlets with plenty of new leaves indicate that they have taken root, separate them from the mother plant.

Diseases and pests

If the stand is too wet or too dark, there is a risk of leaf fall and root rot. Spotted and wilted leaves may indicate a too draughty location. In case of pest infestation, it is best to wash the whole plant thoroughly in the shower and then treat with a spray.

Good to know

The ivy absorbs toxins from its ambient air. This makes them particularly resistant to cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes. The ivy can absorb so much nicotine from the indoor air that the concentration in its leaves is three times higher in the end than in a real tobacco plant! In addition, the green plant filters formaldehyde from lacquers and coatings of furniture and reduces the carbon dioxide content of the air. This makes Epipremnum a real air freshener. However, for a measurable improvement in the indoor climate, a large number of plants are needed. Caution: Because of the storage of large quantities of pollutants, ivy should not be disposed of in the compost at the end of its life, but in household waste.


Growth type
  • Climber
  • Perennial plant
Growth height
from 50.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • overhanging
Flower characteristics
  • unimpressive
Sheet shape
  • whole-edged
  • heart-shaped
  • tapered
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
  • sunny to semi-shady
Soil Moisture
  • moderately damp
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf decoration
  • Interior greening
  • Winter garden

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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