When not associated with the word "poison," ivy can be an attractive plant.
Ivy can be grown both indoors and outdoors, but attempting to grow it indoors is a greater challenge, according to Sara Melton, manager of The Barn Nursery in Chattanooga.
Ivy is a vine, which means the long, almost garland-like stems can become unwieldy. To keep them from becoming too spindly, Melton recommends giving the plant a "haircut" on occasion.
"Every time you cut an ivy stem back, it'll get thicker," she said. "So a nice way to rejuvenate an ivy plant is to cut it back."
The cut leaves can be removed from the stem, revitalized in water and planted to create new vines.
While ivy is not recommended for consumption, Melton said it is not considered to be a hazardous plant for children and pets.
• Mist the leaves a couple of times a week. Humidity can cause them to dry out. "Heat in the winter in the house can be very dry," said Melton. This tip is especially applicable for those who are tending to ivy topiaries, which have fewer stems traveling to the top of the plant.
• Water the plants appropriately. "It doesn't need to sit in a puddle, but it does need to stay moist," Melton said. A couple of times a week is a good rule of thumb, depending on the size of the pot and the air circulation. Check the soil by sticking your fingertip beneath the surface. If the soil is moist, wait to water. If it's dry, wet it down.
• Maintain a good temperature. "They're fine cooler," said Melton, "Sixties are great." Being kept in rooms where the heat is in the mid-70s can cause the leaves to dry and wilt.
• Watch your light. "Ivy plants will grow in low light, but they will not thrive in low light," Melton said. Ivy will do best in bright, indirect light. Melton recommends keeping the plants fairly close to a sunny window but not in the direct sun.
• Invest in insecticide. Ivy can be susceptible to infestation, including spider mites. Melton said a preventive treatment can be helpful.