Skip to Content

Thriving Yard is an affiliate for companies including Amazon Associates and earns a commission on qualifying purchases.

Causes Of Brown Spots On English Ivy

Causes Of Brown Spots On English Ivy

Share Or Save For Later

Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

English ivy should be luscious green, so there’s undoubtedly a problem if you notice brown spots around it. But why does your English ivy have brown spots, and how can you fix it and prevent the issue from recurring?

The most common cause of brown spots on English ivy a fungal or bacterial infection known as “leaf spot.” Less common causes include underwatering, overwatering, or root rot.

Understanding why your English ivy has brown spots will help you determine the best way to get rid of them and keep them away. Keep reading to learn more about the leading causes and fixes.

1. Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is one of the leading causes of brown spots on English ivy, so you must consider this as a possible cause of the problem. There are different types of leaf spot, including fungal and bacterial.

According to the Connecticut State website, a typical fungal leaf spot looks like a lesion with a black, brown, reddish, or tan center (source). In most cases, there are many brown spots across the leaves rather than just one.

When it comes to bacterial leaf spot, the center of the spots sometimes fall off — this makes holes in the leaves and is an unsightly appearance (source). Like with fungal leaf spot, there are usually many spots in the case of a bacterial infection.

Fungal leaf spot occurs if the leaves of your English ivy are wet or moist and warm, as these conditions are favorable for fungus to grow and thrive.

Bacterial leaf spot also develops in warm and humid conditions (source). But instead of the issue being a fungal spore, it’s a bacteria.

How To Fix

Here are some tips on fixing fungal leaf spot:

  • Remove affected plant parts. To fix the fungal leaf spot on English ivy, you must remove all affected plant parts. If all leaves are badly affected, it might be best to discard the entire plant and start fresh with a new one. 
  • Ensure the English ivy has enough airflow. If the plant lacks airflow, consider moving it to a more favorable area. Adequate airflow allows the plant to dry more quickly.
  • Avoid wetting the plant. Since fungal leaf spot is caused by wet environments, you want to avoid getting the leaves damp. If it rains, keep the plant sheltered if possible.
  • Use fungicides if necessary. Fungicides inhibit fungal growth (source). So, they will fix the issue and prevent it from recurring.

Fixing bacterial leaf spot is similar to improving fungal leaf spot. Remove affected leaves and ensure the plant remains dry.

However, you won’t need to use fungicides in the case of a bacterial infection because they won’t work.

2. Underwatering

If leaf spot isn’t the culprit, you may also consider underwatering. If you’ve been neglecting your English ivy, there’s a chance it’s become dehydrated.

Brown spots are one of the symptoms of a dry plant, but it’s good to look out for other symptoms, such as dry, droopy, or curled leaves that feel crisp and break easily. Another one is overly dry soil.

So, if the leaves on your English ivy have brown spots and some (or all) of the above symptoms, underwatering could be the culprit!

How To Fix

Here are some tips to consider if you suspect underwatering is the issue:

  • Check the soil. Before concluding that underwatering is the reason for the brown spots, check the soil to ensure it feels dry. If it doesn’t feel dry, the issue might be caused by something else.
  • Remove parts that are overly damaged. While you may be able to fix plant parts that are slightly damaged, you won’t be able to fix ones that are too damaged. 
  • Protect your English ivy from sunlight. UV rays can damage plant cells (source). Therefore, you certainly want to keep your English ivy away from sunlight to allow it to fully recover.
  • Water your English ivy. It may seem obvious, but you must water your plant thoroughly every day or every few days to ensure it can recover.

See How Long Can English Ivy Go Without Water?

3. Overwatering

Although underwatering can cause brown spots on English ivy, overwatering is another issue to consider. If you’re sure the problem isn’t leaf spot or underwatering, think about how often you water your plants (or how much water you use).

If you water the plants frequently or use a lot of water each time, you’re likely overdoing it and causing more harm than good. Symptoms of an overwatered English ivy plant may include:

  • Brown spots
  • Possible yellow or browning leaves
  • Mushy or droopy leaves

See our guide to The Signs Of Overwatering Plants.

How To Fix

To fix the issue, there are different things you can do. Below is a list of the most important things:

  • Remove the English ivy from direct sunlight
  • Feel the soil to see if it’s overly wet. If it’s not, underwatering could be the issue.
  • Avoid watering the plant until it (and the soil) is fully dry
  • Check the roots if the above tips don’t help after a week or two because root rot may have developed.

4. Root Rot

Root rot generally occurs when you overwater your English ivy for a prolonged period. As a result, the fungus begins to grow and affects the roots. Root rot can cause brown spots on leaves, but it can also cause them to turn entirely brown or yellow over time.

Common fungi that cause root rot include Armillaria mellea, Clitocybe tabescens, and Fusarium (source).

How To Fix

In some cases, you can salvage English ivy that’s infected with root rot. But in other cases, the infection might be so bad that you must dispose of the entire plant and start fresh with a new one.

Here are some tips if you want to fix the issue:

  • Examine the root and remove infected parts. Ensure you remove all infected parts of the roots. Otherwise, the problem may persist.
  • Prune the affected leaves. 
  • Repot with new soil. You may also want to use a new pot or disinfect the previous one.
  • Avoid overwatering the plant to ensure root rot doesn’t reoccur.


If your English ivy has brown spots, there are different things to consider. The most common cause is leaf spot, a bacterial or fungal infection that affects many plants. Other causes include over and underwatering and root rot.

How you fix the issue will depend on what’s causing it, so be sure to figure out the cause before trying anything.

Recommended Reading: