Why is My English Ivy Turning Red? [How to Fix]

Ivy leaves breathe new life into your home garden, room, and functional spaces. These heart-shaped plants come in a variety of colors and a range of variegated forms.

A commonly asked question about English Ivies is “Why is my English ivy turning red?” This could be due to a lack of water, too much water, or a mineral deficiency. But with the right dose of water, nutrients, and lighting, ivies can be some of the most beautiful plants. Here are the deets.

Lack of Phosphorus in the Soil

Phosphorus is key in harnessing the sun’s energy and funneling it into biomolecules like ATP. They drive important chemical reactions that allow English Ivies to grow into mature plants.

Phosphorus is the second most limiting factor for plant growth after nitrogen. Leaf reddening may signify a severe case of phosphorus deficiency. The first few stages of stunted growth are indicated by dark, dull, and blue-green leaves.

If you don’t address this problem sooner, your leaves will likely turn a shade of red due to anthocyanin synthesis. You will see symptoms of red color in Ivy leaves on more mature plants.

Phosphorus deficiency itself is a symptom of other problems. It may indicate a low pH level in the soil or substrate.

Extremely dense soil can make it difficult to increase the intake of phosphorus. Another cause of phosphorus deficiency is an extremely high concentration of iron that complicates phosphorus intake.

Treating phosphorus deficiency requires thorough diagnosis and troubleshooting of the plant. Look for signs of health problems in the soil.

If the soil is not healthy, it could complicate the intake of nutritional elements. Also, take into account the pH level in the soil or substrate. This may be done with the help of a pH meter.

If you notice any incorrect values in the pH, it’s time to immediately adjust the pH by adding appropriate fertilizers.

There is such a thing as too much phosphorus, although this is a rare problem in Ivy plants. In any case, it should be prevented at all times because it will negatively impact the intake of other nutrients. This could also contribute to the reddening of Ivy plants in California.

You can fix a phosphorus deficiency by testing the soil’s pH value. The preferred pH value for English ivies is 6 to 7.5.

You may have to change the entire soil if it strays too far from the ideal range. After changing the soil, you can fertilize the plant with phosphorus fertilizers.

You also prepare phosphorus fertilizer with the help of compost and bone meal. Finally, avoid overwatering your Ivy when it is recovering. Make sure that the temperature of the plant is correct.


English ivy plants in California are highly susceptible to anthracnose, a fungal disease that affects many plants.

Anthracnose can cause your Ivy plants to develop sunken lesions on their leaves that may look red at times.

Anthracnose can spread very quickly in the rainy seasons. The fungal disease thrives under warm and moist conditions, and it is often a symptom of too much watering.

If you notice Anthracnose in your English ivies and there has been no rain in recent days, it’s time to reconfigure your watering sessions.

The spots enlarge and have a red center with water-soaked lesions. A yellow halo may appear around the bacterial lesion.

Anthracnose may first appear as small, irregular yellow or brown spots. They get darker and redder with age and will expand to other plants.

Anthracnose is generally harder to control in Ivy leaves. However, Anthracnose of Ivy often occurs due to environmental stress and injury.

The best diagnosis of Anthracnose is to inspect the Ivies for any signs of disease. The fungus appears as black needles under low-level magnification.

Remove the questionable leaves and discard them properly. You may apply fungicides in case of severe Anthracnose.


A major reason why English ivy leaves turn red is because of root and stem rot. The leaves may be affected by a fungus called Rhizoctonia solani and Phymatotrichum omnivore.

In both cases, the leaves will begin to turn color and slowly wilt. Rotting will attack lower leaves before spreading to other leaves.

Note that ivy leaves are particularly susceptible to both cases of fungi when it’s cold and moist. Root rot can be devastating to ivy leaves because it cancels out the entire plant.

You can avoid root rotting by planting the ivy leaves in a well-drained bed that is thoroughly sterilized.

Improper pH Management

The pH value of your plants can also affect the absorption of phosphorus. Improper pH values will disrupt the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients such as phosphorus.

Phosphorous, in particular, is very sensitive and does not respond well to improper pH values. This may also allow other minerals to get absorbed into the plant in higher quantities.

English ivies will develop red pigments if the pH value doesn’t fall in the ideal range. A common fix is to test the pH level of the soil using pH test strips.

Scoop out a small sample of the soil into a cup of water and mix it thoroughly. Now dip the pH strip into the soil sample and check its color.

The color of the pH strip indicates the acidity level of the soil. Blue indicates acidic soil, yellow indicates neutral soil and red indicates alkalinity.

If the soil is too alkaline or acidic, you can fix the pH value by introducing some high-quality compost to the soil.       

Compost usually has a neutral pH that can neutralize the acidity and alkalinity of the soil.


Overwatering creates a dangerous environment for ivy plants. It does this by cutting off the oxygen supply. Roots depend on this supply of oxygen to function properly.

This will gradually starve the entire plant of oxygen and will cause the leaves to turn color. Worse-case scenarios of overwatering can also lead to root rotting and cause the irreversible decay of Ivy roots.

This is because too much water can drown the ivy leaves and prevent them from getting air. Ivy leaves extract carbon dioxide from the air for energy. But they need oxygen for health-related reasons.

The roots are designed to retrieve oxygen from the air. This, in turn, allows the plant to get more nutrients for the plants and stay healthy.

Overwatering can also deprive the plant of water. This may sound ironic because the plant has an overabundant supply of water.
However, plants have root hairs that absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Excess water can expose the plant to waterlogged conditions. This can cause the root hairs to eventually die.

The plants eventually lose their ability to absorb oxygen, slowly wilt and turn a shade of red before dying.

Excess watering also flushes fertilizers from the English ivies. These fertilizers are added to help the soil improve the plant’s nutritional profile and aid growth.

The best way to prevent overeating is to check the surrounding soil. Use a soil probe to check the moisture content of the soil.

If the moisture level is too low, it’s time to add more water. If the moisture level is too high, you might have waterlogged the plant!


Underwatering can cause the leaves to turn dry, wilt, and turn a shade of red. Another sign of underwatering is the slow growth rate of the leaves that prevents them from achieving full size.

An underwatered plant will always have dry soil. In this case, you should water your ivy leaves and watch how they respond in the next few hours.

An under-watering plant will recover quickly after receiving adequate water. However, prolonged dry conditions will damage the place beyond recovery.

Underwatering is more likely to occur if you don’t have the time to look after your English Ivy plants in California.

Check the soil before watering English ivies. As a rule, water the plant only if the top 2 inches for the soul feel dry.

Temperature Problems     

The best temperature conditions for English ivies are between 75°F to 85°F.

The plants are not fond of cold or hot temperatures. The leaves will turn a  shade of red if the temperature drops below 40°F.

Cold drafts in the winter can freeze the soil which may lead to red pigmentation in the plants. Just like excess cold, extreme heat can also turn the leaves into a shade of red.

High temperature causes the leaves to lose their water content which results in dehydration. A good solution is to keep your Ivy leaves in a climate-controlled environment.

If this is impossible, you should protect your Ivy plants from cold or hot drafts to prevent a sudden temperature change.

Never keep your ivy plants near heating vents, radiators, chimneys, fireplaces, and stoves. 3pack Gold Child English Ivy 3" Pot - 'Hedra Helix Plant' -Outdoor and Indoor Plant

Wrapping Up

Ivy plants are hardy species but they are susceptible to temperature fluctuations, exposure to disease, and waterlogging.

Try to inspect soil health every 24 hours to see if something is amiss. We recommend getting pH strips to test the soil for acidity and alkalinity.

Not all cases of plants turning a shade of red are severe. If you catch the problem early, you may be able to fix it.

Read more: