Tree ivy (× Fatshedera lizei) is a unique cross between species from different genera: Fatsia japonica (glossy-leaved paper plant) and Hedera helix (English ivy). The resulting hybrid has the shrub-like shape of a glossy-leaved paper plant, along with the five-lobed leaves of English ivy. Its evergreen leaves are a glossy dark green and can stretch between 4 and 10 inches wide. The perennial plant has a mounding growth habit with trailing stems, but it can be trained via pruning to grow in a tighter shrub form as well. While this plant is primarily grown for its foliage, tiny cream flowers do appear in clusters in the fall. Tree ivy has a moderate growth rate, and the best time to plant it is in the spring.
|Botanical Name||x Fatshedera lizei|
|Common Names||Tree ivy, bush ivy, ivy tree|
|Mature Size||3–5 ft. tall and wide|
|Sun Exposure||Partial, shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Hardiness Zones||7–10 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Hybrid plant first cultivated in France|
|Toxicity||Toxic to people and animals|
Tree Ivy Care
When planting tree ivy outdoors, be sure to space the plants roughly 3 to 6 feet apart. For container growth, select a container that’s slightly larger than the root ball with ample drainage holes. The plant does not have the gripping ability that true ivy has, so it will need to be staked or attached to another type of support, such as a trellis, if you wish to grow it more like a vine. Or you could simply allow it to sprawl across the ground like a ground cover.
Plan to regularly water and feed your tree ivy, and prune as needed to maintain your desired shape and size. The plant doesn’t typically have serious pest or disease issues. However, watch out for some common plant pests, including spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves for signs of the small bugs, and treat any infestations as soon as possible.
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for an Ivy Tree Indoors
Tree ivy grows best in dappled light. Too much direct sun, especially strong afternoon sun, can scorch the foliage. But too little light can result in small, dull leaves and lanky, weak stems. For indoor growth, a spot next to a bright window that is out of direct sun is ideal.
This plant prefers a rich, loamy soil with a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH and sharp drainage. A light, all-purpose potting mix is fine for container growth.
Tree ivy likes even soil moisture, but perpetually soggy soil can cause its roots to rot. During the growing season (spring to fall), water whenever the soil has slightly dried out. Over the winter when the plant has gone dormant, reduce watering just to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Leaf drop and yellowing leaves are both potential signs that tree ivy is being overwatered.
Temperature and Humidity
Tree ivy prefers to grow in mild temperatures between roughly 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Excessive heat can cause leaf drop and ultimately kill the plant, so it’s important to provide shade and sufficient water to a tree ivy plant in hot climates. The plant has some cold tolerance, but temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit can cause it to die back. However, if the temperatures don’t dip too much lower, the plant still might grow back from its roots once warm weather returns.
Furthermore, tree ivy likes a moderate to high level of humidity. A container plant can be placed on a tray filled with water and pebbles to raise the humidity level around it. Regularly misting the plant also can help to raise the humidity to its liking. The leaves can turn brown and drop off from tree ivy plants that are exposed to dry air for too long.
Tree ivy is a moderate to heavy feeder. During the growing season, feed your plant with a houseplant fertilizer, following label instructions. No fertilization is necessary in the winter.
Is Tree Ivy Toxic?
Like its parent plant English ivy, all parts of tree ivy are toxic to people and animals. Toxicity can arise both from ingestion and via skin contact.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Some symptoms of poisoning in both people and animals via ingestion include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and drooling. Symptoms via skin contact include redness, itchiness, and rash. If you suspect poisoning, contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
Tree ivy can handle a light pruning at any point to shape it to your liking. And without pruning, it can start to look scraggly. To promote the bushier growth habit that many growers prefer, especially for houseplants, pinch off new growth on the stems. This will create more branching.
Propagating Tree Ivy
Tree ivy can’t be grown from seed, as the plants are sterile. But it can be propagated via stem cuttings fairly easily. Simply trim off a piece of stem that’s roughly 6 inches long. Remove leaves on the lower half, apply rooting hormone to the cut end, and stick it in a soilless potting mix. Place the cutting in a warm spot with indirect light, and keep the growing media moist (but not soggy). You’ll know it has developed roots once you can gently tug on the stem and feel resistance.
Tree Ivy Varieties
There are several varieties of tree ivy available with leaf and size variations:
- x Fatshedera lizei 'Variegata' is a 6-foot variety with cream-colored margins on the leaves.
- x Fatshedera lizei 'Curly' has unusual curly leaves.
- x Fatshedera lizei 'Ribbon Candy' is a shorter (4-foot) variety with wavy leaves in a light green color. It makes a good shrubby plant.
- x Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke' is an 8-foot variety that has bold leaves with yellow markings.