Ivy Tree Plant Profile

Fatshedera plant

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 

The ivy tree (× 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 with the Latin name of Fatshedera has the interesting and lovely leaf shape of the Fatsia—which can be seen growing along the roadsides throughout the tropical world—and the cultural requirements and basic climbing habit of its other parent, English ivy. It is considerably less vigorous than English ivy, rarely growing more than 8 feet in length.

Botanical Name x Fatshedera lizei 
Common Names Ivy tree, tree ivy, bush ivy
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size 3 to 8 feet, similar spread
Sun Exposure Part shade to full shade
Soil Type Moist, rich, well-draining soil
Soil pH 5.5 to 7.0 (acidic to neutral)
Bloom Time Insignificant
Flower Color Insignficant; grown for foliage
Hardiness Zones 7 to 10 (USDA); usually grown as a houseplant
Native Area A hybrid plant first discovered and cultivated in France
closeup of fatshedera leaves
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 
closeup of fatshedera
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 

How to Grow Ivy Tree

Fatshedera is best grown in moist, rich, well-drained soil in a part-shade location. It does not grip like a true ivy, however, and will need to be staked up. Once properly staked, the plant's stems will grow quite long and form an interesting border to a bright window. Also, from its ivy parentage, it inherited a fondness for cooler temperatures, relatively high humidity, and a more open growing habit. In general, if you can grow successful ivy, you will be able to grow outstanding Fatshedera.

If planting multiple ivy trees outdoors, space them 3 to 6 feet apart in a part-shade garden location.

Light

Ivy tree will thrive in anything from bright light to light shade in the summer, provided it gets slightly dimmer light in the winter. It doesn't like direct sunlight, but dappled sunlight is fine. The level of variegation can be influenced by how much light you provide — the more light, the stronger the variegation. All-green varieties need less light and, therefore are considered a bit easier to grow.

Soil

A light, fast-draining potting soil is perfect. You can use fortified soils. In an outdoor garden, grow it in rich, well-drained garden soil.

Water

Keep the soil moist in the summer growing season and slightly drier in the winter. Do not water with warm water. Overwatered plants tend to drop their leaves, or the leaves will turn yellow,

Temperature and Humidity

This is a cool-room plant with a maximum winter temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Just as with ivy, the key to growing these successfully is to provide plenty of humidity in a cool environment. During dry winter months, indoor plants should be regularly misted. Plants that are exposed to hot, dry air will turn brown and drop their leaves.

Fertilizer

During the growing season, feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer that includes micronutrients. These plants are relatively high feeders and will respond well to ample fertilization.

Potting and Repotting

When growing as a container plant, give ivy tree a rich, well-drained potting mix. It should be repotted every few years as the roots fill the pot.

Pruning Ivy Tree

If you don't have room for a climbing plant, pinch off the growing shoots to encourage a shrubby growth habit. If a rambling, sprawling habit is acceptable, you need not prune it very much.

Propagating Ivy Tree

Ivy trees are not grown from seeds, as the plants are sterile. These plants can, however, be easily propagated from stem-tip cuttings. If the plant becomes leggy, it can be topped, with the severed shoots used for propagation. Use a rooting hormone and make sure to provide high humidity as the cuttings are rooting.

Varieties of Ivy Tree

There is only one species: the Fatshedera. This hybrid is sterile and cannot be crossed with other species. There are several varieties 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 with bold leaves with yellow markings.

Common Pests/ Diseases

These plants are vulnerable to spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Look under the big leaves for signs of infestation, or look for crinkling or curled leaves. Treat infestations early to prevent the pests from spreading to the whole plant or to your other houseplants.

Landscape Uses

Ivy tree is best grown as a container plant, or as a shady ground cover or short climber in those locations where it is reliably hardy. If grown as an indoor container plant, be prepared to prune frequently to tame it. When grown as an outdoor container plant, it can easily be trained along a trellis or post, or left to trail as a ground cover. Planted in garden soil, it can be used as sprawling ground cover or mounding shrubby specimen.