How to keep your ivy plant healthy

Keeping an ivy alive and green and ready to take on the coat hangers of the world…. is really so simple.

Here’s the solution.



Dish washing soap.


Here’s the proof.


Here's my ivy plant in April, needing some upkeep.And again in June, looking fresher and happy

                      Ivy circa April 12, 2011                                                                       Ivy circa June 28, 2011


Have you seen an ivy when it gets yellow and pale and the leaves start falling off?

It’s usually because of spider mites.

I don’t remember who told me to use dish washing soap to get rid of them.

And I don’t know why it works.

But it does.


Dish soap is an easy way to keep your ivy plant spider mite-free and healthy.


The secret is cheap soap.

No fancy stuff.

No extra anti-bacterial nonsense.

Just soap.


Dilute a bit of soap into a pint of water, and put in a spray bottle.


Simply add 2 tsp. of soap to one pint of water.

Don’t add anymore soap or your topiary may not recover.

Then pour mixture into a spray bottle filled with water.


And if you do this….can you try to get a cuter spray bottle than mine?

Not just one from Wal-mart.

A really cute spray bottle.

Like this one.

Or this one.

Or at the very least make a cover for it like this.


Add a light layer of the soap mixture to your ivy plant


Then take your really cute spray bottle and spray the leaves every two to three weeks.


That’s it.

 Spray the ivy once every two to three weeks to keep it green and healthy.

Your topiary will thank you.

Your ivy will thank you.

And the spider mites will have to buy a Winnebago and take a cross-country trip to their condo in Florida 🙂


PS  If you want to know how to make a topiary….here’s a post where I used a coat hanger to create one!

PPS  Here’s an article on using soap that has much better directions and tells when not to use soap under certain conditions.


  1. Image for Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads

    Thank you so much for that tip. It's a joke around our house that Jane can't grow ivy. I say "the thing 's dead and it's time to buy your monthly ivy plant to re-place it. We'll give the soap a try. If it works we can use the extra money to buy silly stuff like food.

  2. Image for betty betty

    Thanks KA~ more good info as I just planted a pot of ivy this week. I'm still spreading coffee grounds and tea bags around the hydrangeas too. I'll keep you posted. ~betty

  3. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    In the words of my precious granddaughter "Grandma I am giving your plants a bubbly bath!"....yes, works great...but every once in a while, the mites had a party, invited all of their friends and the Winnebago broke the sprayer had to be filled with the dreaded Sevin...!...Pretty topiary sparkly clean!

  4. Image for JoAnn JoAnn

    Great tip but please don't send them to Florida...we have plenty! :) Our tomato, bean and cucumber plants just lost their lives to some kind of tiny, tiny spiders...they left little bit of orange residue...I don't think that's spider mites, do you know? Does anyone know? Helppppp! PS I'm going to try the coat hanger! Thanks!

  5. Image for Beverly Beverly

    We discovered this years ago, and it has always worked. My husband and friends tease me by calling me the ivy queen. Why, you ask. Because ivy will over-winter outside here, and due to that I don't constantly have to purchase new plants every year. When they start showing their age, I just repot and give them a trim. I've got some ivy that I have had over twenty years. And, did you know you can break off a piece, stick it in some dirt and you soon have another ivy plant? Have you figured out yet how much I love ivy? ♥♥♥ It is also great to use in your flower arrangements, and it makes a gorgeous garland around a punch bowl for luncheons or showers. I just add a few fresh flowers and it looks great. You go, KariAnne.

  6. Image for Mary Ann Mary Ann

    Who cares what your spray bottle looks like? I was totally distracted by whats behind it - whatever that is with the rabbit on it (a plate?). So cute!

  7. Image for Bliss Bliss

    Well I do have two ivy plants, but I might try this just to craft a cute spray bottle. ~Bliss~ The noodle party worked GREAT why not a spray bottle party?

  8. Image for Stephanie Durdan Stephanie Durdan

    Can I use the ivy that has found its way to my house from the next door neighbor's brick house? NOTHING kills that stuff. I think I'll make some shapes out of coat hangers and stick them in my chimney so that at least if I have to look at the stuff that won't - keep - to - its - own - house, it can look whimsical. Love your blog. I begin my day with it and it always produces my first chuckle of the day. Keep up the great work! :-)

  9. Image for Kim Kim

    Well, aren't you just full of info. Wish I knew that with my last three ivy plants. Now I will go buy another one and wash those spider mites away!!

  10. Image for Scribbler Scribbler

    My mother used to spray all her plants with a mild dish liquid/water solution. The had the greenest thumb I ever saw, so I guess it worked. I can kill just about anything.

  11. Image for Deneen Deneen

    I loved meeting you at Haven! You have an infectiuos smile and personality! Thank you for the drink! I hope I will get to know you better through blogging

  12. Image for Jessica @ Mom 4 Real Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

    Shut up! I love ivy, but I have killed every. single. one. I love topiaries, and bought a really expensive gorgeous ivy topiary at Fresh Market last summer that died, but I kept the form. Thank you, lovely lady! I even have 2 hideous spray bottles! Jess

  13. Image for Kimberly from Serendipity. Kimberly from Serendipity.

    Dang, girl! There's gonna be a mite-y caravan leavin my house this afternoon! Those bad boys have been having a convention on my ivy and when the Ivy Inn was full, apparently overflow accommodations are being made across the shelf on my gardenia plant. Well, Lucky for me (for them, not-so-much) I have YOU...AND a cute spray bottle and some cheap soap! I think that I'll take the plants outside to spray them...closer to the road for them, less tire marks on the kitchen counter for me! I thank you, my ivy thanks you, the bugs...spider mites, well, you should probably buy more soap because I'm guessin that they'll come lookin for ya. xo

  14. Image for Barb @ The Everyday Home Barb @ The Everyday Home

    Oh thanks. On their way down to Florida, they saw my beautiful ivy and have taken up residence. I guess the rent was cheaper. :) I have been using soap water for years and you are right, it works beautifully. And oh yea Miss Fancy Shmancy Spray Bottle promoter, the makers of plain ole' plastic squirters will be writing you in protest. :-D Miss you. xxoo, B

  15. Image for Susan Susan

    I'm going to try that on my rose bush! Since the day I bought it, it's had symptoms that sound like what you describe. It makes the most beautiful roses, and I can make it flush with a little epsom salts, but the greenery part of it is often hole eaten and the leaves turn yellow and drop off.

  16. Image for Laura Laura

    I've been doing this since back in the covered wagon days (well not really, but that's how old my grandchildren think I am) and it really works. :)

  17. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Thank you, thank you!! I can keep every plant alive except for ivy! I'll try this for sure! Love ivy! Thanks again for the tip!

  18. Image for peggy peggy

    LOL - I learned this years ago from Master Gardner, Jerry Baker.....I believe he said it basically gives the bugs diarrhea and they either die or go find a sick room. You can use it on other plants as well! Happy gardening!

  19. Image for Missy Missy

    That's a second at least) generation remedy for spider mites..I don't know why it works..Also if you put a drop of liquid soap on a tick, it will back out...

  20. Image for Liz Liz

    I was just trying this morning to spray some soap on the white fly that's plaguing our plants. It is on my avocado trees and all my palms. However, my Walmart spray bottle only sprays once in a while, the rest of the time I just stand there squeezing the trigger harder and harder, looking like an idiot. and getting a tired finger I kept squeezing because I was sure it was gonna spray something soon, especially since the bottle was full. But no. I definitely need a new spray bottle. I'll take anything, as long as it works. And keep your spider mites to yourself, please. We are notoriously buggy here in South Florida. You send us spider mites, we might just send you some white fly. Sadly there is more of that now than a spray bottle can take care of anyway. [sigh] Liz

  21. Image for Anna Anna

    I love this! What a smart idea. I totally pinned this and the instructions for how to make a topiary, thanks for the great tips! Anna

  22. Image for debbiedoos debbiedoos

    I needed this thank you for sharing. I will be doing this trick tomorrow when I do some replanting and such in the garden. Have a fabulous weekend KariAnne.

  23. Image for Traci Traci

    I just used this trick on an outside plant that had spider mites. My pest man told me about using this solution but I didn't know that you could use it on indoor plants. Thanks Traci

  24. Image for Pinky Pinky

    O M G!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY I may have a solution to my IVY problem! I LOOOOOOVE them but never seem to keep them alive. I will do this! Thanks SOOOOOOOOOOOO muc. BTW, saw this on Pinterest. XO, pinky

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