Black bugs on English Ivy

Patricia546May 8, 2014

I have an english ivy that is several years old. All of a sudden, leaves are turning yellow, drying up and falling off. I did a search and found several pests it could be. When I looked at the plant it has tiny black bugs. Don't think aphids but what are they and how do I get rid of them. I don't want to lose my plant.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


its too early in MN for there to be bugs ...

has it even come out of dormancy yet????

probably winter damage ... it was bad out there ... if you didnt notice .. lol ...

any chance at a pic??


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:16PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Pattie, you'll have to let us see a picture of these critters OR provide a lot more details.

Is this plant outside or inside? Do these things move or are they the stems or leaves or both.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:18PM
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It is an inside plant. They are very tiny, round and black. I have read that s soap bath might help but don't know the recipe for that. Would it just be Dawn soap and water?


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:57AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

We need pictures please.
Without them, everything is a guess.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 5:42PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Don't use's one of the worst of the dish detergents for causing damage, Don't ever use a home brewed concoction with a very good idea of how to mix it. And it is very important that you ID the problem properly.

Again, are these things attached to the plant but can be removed with a fingernail or are they part of the tissue?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 6:38PM
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Ok, did the best I could on picture. Will attach another once I figure out how. Anyway, black bugs..several on right leaf. Left leaf is what they look like

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:44AM
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This is the whole plant. Once a full thriving ivy. Now reduced to this. Have taken cuttings, washed them and watching closely. I want to save plant or the cuttings. Please help

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Can I use ivory dishwashing soap. That should be mild. What I found says 1-2 tsp of dishwashing soap in 1 quart of water. First remove dead or dying parts. Spray with soap water 1-2 times a week. Do not rinse off


    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 12:21PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

I can't see anything on the 2 leaves. And the other image isn't helpful for ID of the critters although it does show a stressed plant

So are the pots sitting in water?
Have you considered spider mites?
That's an awfully dark place for ivy.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:05AM
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Yes I believe it is spider mites. I will begin the soap bath today and move to a brighter place


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:17AM
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I am rather new here so please do not get upset with my post. I don't feel I am getting much help here with my ivy and I am afraid it is going to be too late.

I have tried to post a picture but the bugs are so small my iPad won't pick them up. The are small, black spots. The leaves turn a spotty yellow before they dry up and fall off. I don't see webs but eyesight not as good as before. Leaves on back look kimda of shimmery. Even the cuttings I took look this way.

My plan is to cut off the dead and dying areas. Use soapy water (1.5 tsp ivory dish soap in 1 qt water) 1-2 times per week. this the right plan for now! Should I repot right away? Should I spray dirt with soapy water? Should I rinse off the soapy water. Please, please can anyone help me!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You haven't received the prompt help you'd like because we really can't see the problem. You've finally mentioned that the leaves become speckled which is a big clue! I've been confused by your description of the small, round, black "bugs". Most people with perfect vision would describe spider mites as nearly invisible....literally.

Both Jean and I really hate to recommend a plan of attack without knowing for certain who the enemy is.

Having said that, spider mites are the most common problem with English ivy grown as a houseplant. Many people won't even bother with them for that reason. They are very, very difficult to get under control and keep under control.

I never use dish soap for plant care....too many additives such as fragrances, grease dissolvers, etc., all of which can harm plant tissues. Ivory is just another dish detergent....not milder than any other, but without the super grease busters that Dawn has. I use a commercial insecticidal soap when necessary.....less potential for damage, but more effective as a pest control agent.

However, lots of people DO use dish soaps and ivy is pretty tough. Mix it up in a spray bottle and apply to the underside of the leaves. Yes, remove all of the dead stuff first. No to spraying it all over the potting mix.

Another remedy against spider mites is rubbing alcohol mixed at the rate of one part isopropyl to three parts water. Some make it stronger than that. Again, apply with a mister to the underside of the foliage.

With either product, no need to rinse. Do don't apply every day....maybe once per week. Use strong plain water sprays in between. Make sure that the nutritional needs of the plant are being met.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:19PM
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Thank you so much. Forgive my post but want to save this plant. I will go find an insecticidal soap and get busy on the plant.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Do I wash the soapy water off?


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:11PM
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No need to rinse.

I find insecticidal soaps have minimal impact on spider mites. I much prefer a distinct miticide like Neem oil. Perfectly safe to use on any indoor plant. Also, spider mites proliferate in dry, low humidity environments like we have indoors. Misting your plant often or placing in the sink for a weekly shower will do much to keep spider mites at bay.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Well, it seems like I will lose my plant to these bugs, so I am trying to save cuttings. I have washed them off, used an insecticide,spray and a rooting powder. Any,other suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:58AM
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Since I have decided on the cuttings, there is not a forum to tell me how to do,this. Can anyone lead me to the area where I can post on an inside English ivy and how to do cuttings?


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:32AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)


Use your favorite search engine (mine is
In the search box, type the phrase "how to take ivy cuttings" -- but omit the quote marks
Click Go (or hit the Enter key)

The list of results is extensive, including videos.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:50PM
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