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Cape Ivy Plant Care: How to Grow German Ivy

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This post shares all about cape ivy plant care, also known as German Ivy. This type of Ivy is known as Cape Ivy in some parts of the world and German Ivy in others. It’s a beautiful and easy to care for ivy with beautiful glossy leaves. It’s also very easy to root and propagate. Learn how.

Cape Ivy Plant Care: How to Grow German Ivy

Hey all! Today I’m talking about a tiny little terrarium-sized plant I got about 2 years ago at a local nursery. I didn’t know exactly what it was when I got it—it was just group with she $1.99 terrarium/fairy garden plants and wasn’t labeled.

I gathered that it was some type of ivy. Seeing as I’ve not had great luck with ivy indoors in the past, I was hesitant to buy it. But the leaves were so pretty that I went ahead and took it home. And I’m glad I did, because that little guy grew into a large plant that has produced several propagated babies as well.

How to care for cape ivy

What is Cape Ivy or German Ivy?

This type of ivy is known as Cape Ivy in some parts of the world—German Ivy in others. It’s an evergreen climbing vine that’s native to South Africa; however, in this post I’ll be focusing on caring for cape ivy as a houseplant or potted plant. 🙂 

This sort of ivy has a beautiful lush and glossy foliage with solid-colored medium-green leaves. The leaves themselves can get quite large (up to 4 inches) when they are well taken care of. Cape Ivy is commonly used as an accent to flowers since it trails and climbs. 

The leaves and vining stems are smooth. This plant does flower—small yellow bunches of flowers—but mine never have. Even outdoors. But while ivies are typically a lower maintenance plant, I’ve found that the Cape Ivy requires a bit more TLC when indoors.

How to care for cape ivy

This sort of ivy reportedly grows wild in some parts of the western United States, where it has become invasive. You must control their growth if you don’t want them to become invasive—and you can do that by cutting them back. 

In fact, more than half of U.S. states note that Cape Ivy is an invasive plant (meaning it prevents other plants from growing since it is such a voracious grower). Outdoors, this plant is hardy down to 20 or so degrees Fahrenheit. So its invasiveness is more of a problem in areas where it doesn’t regularly get that cold for an extended period of time. 

Not to worry, though. Keeping it potted up and bringing it indoors for the winter allows you to enjoy this beautiful vining plant without worrying about it becoming invasive!

hanging plants in a small townhouse backyard

Cape Ivy Plant Care Indoors as a Houseplant

When I first brought my teeny tiny ivy home, it had maybe 3 or 4 small leaves. I transferred it from its nursery container into a slightly larger container and put it on my desk. Since I’d read online that this plant like full sun but can tolerate part shade, I put it in the back of my house in an area that gets the most sun.

However, it quickly started looking pretty pathetic. I was worried that it was going to die—in fact, it looked near death after only a few months. Since it seemed to be hanging on by a thread, I decided to move it into my New Plant ICU. That’s what I call the tiny window in Ramona’s bathroom: it has great light, the humidity in there is awesome because she has tubs often, and I can put the plants in a plastic container to help further retain some of the moisture.

After a few weeks in the New Plant ICU, the Cape Ivy rebounded beautifully. Since I’d replanted it in a clear plastic container, I could see new root growth from the outside. In fact, I could see that the roots were growing quite well and beginning to take over the container! I had other things in it, so I went ahead and transferred the ivy back into its own pot.

Cape Ivy Plant Care: How to Grow German Ivy
small pot of cape ivy on a table

Bringing Cape or German Ivy Indoors for the Winter

I kept the ivy in this same pot in Ramona’s bathroom until it was warm enough to take it outdoors for the spring, summer, and early fall. When Cape Ivy is indoors, it’s harder to take care of because this plant likes a lot of sun, a lot of water, and a lot of humidity. So it basically exploded in the humid Maryland summer!

I barely had to care for this plant at all from April through early October. I just made sure it had a good drink if it hadn’t rained in a few days. On extremely hot and dry days, I gave it some extra water. Once we were near a danger of frost, I debugged the pot, brought it inside, and put it back in Ramona’s bathroom.

Although Cape Ivy can survive as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s best to bring it indoors when the temperature drops below 50. My main Cape Ivy has now been indoors for about a month and a half. I have had to pick some dead leaves off and do some pruning, but that is expected. I changed this plant’s entire environment. But it is doing well indoors and looks beautiful trailing down the bathroom wall!

plant ideas for a small townhouse backyard

Cape Ivy Plant Care: Watering and Fertilizing Potted Cape Ivy

Cape Ivy likes to be planted in a well-draining soil, and it likes to remain evenly moist. If the top 2 inches of the soil is dry, give it a drink. However, keep in mind that pretty much no houseplant likes wet feet. Cape Ivy can develop root rot from overly wet soil, so make sure you don’t overwater.

Overwatering can lead the Cape Ivy’s leaves to brown and curl on the edges. This is a vicious symptom because it appears you are underwatering the plant! So you might see the curling brown leaves and give the plant more water, further contributing to drowning it. Droopy, sad leaves are a typical sign that Cape Ivy needs a drink.

Want more plant care tips? You’ll also love my guides on how to take care of monstera plantshow to take care of pothos plantshow to take care of rubber plants, caring for peperomia plants, and how to care for philodendron.

How to care for cape ivy

If you can plant Cape Ivy in a pot with a drainage hole, do so. If you can’t, such as with a hanging plant pot, make sure you build in drainage when planting the pot. See how I suggest doing that here. This plant is not like a snake plant that it hardy and tolerant, withstanding weeks on end of neglect. It’s much more delicate 🙂

You can give this plant a balanced houseplant fertilizer monthly to keep it well-fed. When I have mine outdoors, I’ll give it the same fertilizer I give everything else outdoors. Since Cape Ivy likes higher humidity, a bathroom is a great spot for it. If you can’t put it in the bathroom, you can mist the plant with plain water in a spray model to help with moisture.

Propagating Cape or German Ivy

Cape Ivy is extremely easy to propagate. Simple take a snip from a healthy plant, making sure to include a few leaves. You can then root the plant in water, which is my favorite way to root plants, or root it in soil.

Rooting in water is great because you can monitor root development. When the plant has a sufficiently developed root system, you can then transplant it into soil without much of a shock. Planting a cutting directly in soil works, too—just have some patience and make sure to keep it moist.

Propagating Cape or German Ivy
Propagating Cape or German Ivy

I have given cuttings of my main Cape Ivy plant away to friends to propagate, and I’m also working on developing a second Cape Ivy plant! I rooted a cutting in water in a sunny windowsill and then planted it in soil. Since replanting, it’s been living in Ramona’s New Plant ICU window, and it’s doing very well!

I’m looking forward to seeing this plant develop and taking it outside in the spring to watch it really explode with growth! I will update this post next year. 🙂 Until then, happy growing!

Propagating Cape or German Ivy

Want to read more about plant propagation? Check out my guides on propagating pothos plantssnake plantspeperomiastring of pearlssucculentsmonstera deliciosa, and prickly pear cactus pads.

Reminder: Cape Ivy is Highly Invasive

Even though this post is about planting and caring for Cape Ivy in planters, I want to remind you that this plant is highly invasive. It grows by sending out runners that quickly root in the soil and develop new plants. It doesn’t take much for this plant to grow and take over outdoors.

Share my tips about Cape Ivy Plant Care and how to grow German Ivy on Pinterest!

Propagating Cape or German Ivy
Propagating Cape or German Ivy


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Rebecca Payne

Wednesday 1st of January 2020

Good advice and I love the pictures.

Brittany Goldwyn

Wednesday 1st of January 2020

Thanks Rebecca!

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