Ivy turns brown - what now?

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If the leaves on the ivy turn brown, this may be due to incorrect care or infestation with pests. But sometimes a fungus is to blame. Then it's time to act quickly.

Ivy brown leaves help

Ivy is a robust and undemanding climbing plant, which tends to proliferate and thus must keep you in check. Nevertheless, there are also vulnerable varieties. So it can be e.g. happen that the ivy does not survive a harsh winter. But it also causes great drought. On top of that, even pests and fungi can cause the leaves to turn brown and eventually die off altogether.

Causes of brown leaves & treatment options


The most common cause of brown leaves on the ivy is dryness. If the ivy is in a too sunny place, it can quickly suffer from a lack of water. The result: the leaves turn brown. Therefore, always plant the ivy in a partially shaded to shady spot.

If the summer is very hot, then you should always water the ivy. If the plant is already very high, sprinkle the leaves with water. But only when the sky is overcast, otherwise the leaves could burn.

Ivy variety is not hardy:

Not every ivy is hardy. If that's the case with your ivy, then do not be surprised if the plant gets brown leaves over the winter. This is a sign that the leaves have frozen. These varieties must always be planted in a place where the ground does not freeze in winter. Otherwise use hardy species such as Hedera colchica Sulfur Heart, Hedera helix Modern Times and Hedera Helix Baltica.

Fungal diseases:


If the leaves only brown at certain points, it may be due to bacteria or a fungal disease. The focal spot disease (Colletotrichum trichellum) manifests itself e.g. through gray to brown spots with a mushroom coating and small fruiting bodies.

If an infestation with this fungus can be seen, then cut the plant back strongly and remove the fallen leaves.


But also the so-called ivy crab (Xanthomonas campestris pv. Hederae) can tamper with the plant. This manifests itself first by small spots on the leaves. In the further course, black spots form with a reddish-brown edge, which dry and fall out.

To put an end to this fungal disease, you should quickly remove the affected parts of the plant. Afterwards, dilute the plant well and do not rinse it off, because the fungus spreads through water. It is also important that you regularly disinfect your cutting tool, as the bacteria settle there as well.


Common spider mite:

Pests can also cause the leaves of ivy to turn brown. Among others, e.g. the common spider mite is responsible for the fact that the ivy in the living room turns brown. It spreads to the underside of the leaves, where they then extract the nutrients from the plant. At first, the leaves turn yellowish. If the infestation is very strong, then they turn brown and dry out.

Since the pests multiply strongly in dry, warm air, do not place the plant too close to the heater. Also, periodically spray the ivy with water to prevent it. If all of this does not help, then it is best to proceed with a non-toxic preparation based on rapeseed oil against the pests. Recommended is e.g. Natures pest-free (available here). The fine drops of oil stick to the breathing holes of the animals, so that they suffocate in no time.

Scale insects:

Even scale insects like to get worked on the ivy. An infestation you recognize, for example on the so-called honeydew on the leaf top. It is a sticky substance. The insect lice themselves settle on the underside of the leaves. If the plant is severely affected, the leaves turn brown.

To get rid of the pests you can use the ivy, for example spray with a solution of water, soft soap and alcohol. Alternatively, you can use a rapeseed oil-based preparation against the pests again.

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