Wherever there is a bookcase, there should always be a Devil’s Ivy plant that hangs off it. The way their heart-shaped leaves cascade out of their pot brings that little bit of drama and elegance to every space. However, if your Devil’s Ivy is starting to lose a lot of leaves, then there is something wrong and it’s important that you act quickly to stop the issue.
In this post, we will be going through each of the different reasons why Devil’s Ivy plants might start to lose their leaves. We recommend you first check if it is natural ageing before worrying about anything else.
Overwatering is a common cause of leaf drop
Devil’s Ivy plants are fairly hardy plants and won’t die if you overwater them once in a while. In fact, they quite welcome moisture in the soil and don’t really like being underwatered too often. However, if they are sitting in waterlogged soil for weeks and weeks then the roots will begin to rot. Once this has started to happen, then your plant will be starved of nutrients, oxygen and moisture. Your Devil’s Ivy will then not be able to keep all of its leaves alive so will drop some to conserve energy.
If your plant is overwatered, you might also notice the leaves and vines becoming quite soft and drooping down. It might also be paired with yellowing on the leaves before they fall off the plant entirely.
If you think that you may have overwatered your Devil’s Ivy it is best to replace the soil straight away rather than just sit and wait for it to dry up over time as you risk more damage being done to the already damaged root system. Using a moisture meter can also really help to prevent overwatering in future- we love this one from Amazon.
Funnily enough both over- and underwatering can lead to your Devil’s Ivy losing leaves. So it’s really important you figure out which is the cause as you don’t want to be adjusting your watering schedule in the wrong way. There are a few ways to tell if your Devil’s Ivy is being underwatered:
Firstly, if the leaves and vines feel dry and crispy. Secondly, as with overwatering, it’s a good idea to check how the potting mix feels. If it’s dry to touch, almost like dust, then your plant needs more water. You can also use a moisture meter to help figure out how dry the potting mix is and if you need to water more to stop your plant from losing any more leaves.
If you are sure that your Devil’s Ivy is losing leaves due to a consistent lack of water, you need to make sure to reverse the issue in the right way. Your first instinct may be to drown your plant in water but this can actually cause your Devil’s Ivy to go into shock due to a sudden change of environment. To prevent this from happening, we recommend slowly reintroducing water by giving it a little bit once a day for a week. This will slowly dampen the potting mix and hopefully, stop any more leaves from falling off your Devil’s Ivy or cause any shock to your plant.
Drafts and cold temperatures
Another reason why your Devil’s Ivy plant is losing some of its leaves is fluctuations in the temperature around your plant. If your Devil’s Ivy is getting too much sunlight, it may cause a hotspot which means your plant overheats, causing shock and leaf drop. This often happens if your plant is sitting directly by a south-facing window so be careful that it is not receiving too much direct sunshine.
If you’re not already, make sure to open your windows every now and then to make sure that the air in your room is circulating properly. This reduces the risk of hotspots forming in the room where your Devil’s Ivy is sat. The ideal temperature for Devil’s Ivy plants is between 18°C – 24°C, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep in a good range for most of the year. During winter and the height of summer is where you need to be most careful.
Cold drafts can also damage the health of your Devil’s Ivy and cause it to lose leaves. Make sure your Devil’s Ivy isn’t placed next to a particularly drafty window or door or within 1 metre of an air conditioning vent during summer. Any stream of cold air can damage your plant over time so be careful! You can always pick up a digital thermometer to check the temperature around your Devil’s Ivy.
A harder issue to spot is too much fertiliser which can also cause your plant to shed leaves. Most generic plant foods and fertilisers will recommend a dosage for your plants, but it’s often far too much for your Devil’s Ivy and can result in leaves being dropped. Remove any fertiliser spikes or replace the soil if you’ve used a water-soluble fertiliser or small pellets that are mixed into the soil.
Moving forward, to avoid fertiliser burn in future, the best thing to do here is to try out feeding at half the recommended dosage and see how your Devil’s Ivy reacts. Try also decreasing the number of times you fertilise your Devil’s Ivy each year. A few times during the growth period of spring/summer will definitely be enough. You can also get away with not fertilising at all, with the right environment you should still see plenty of luscious growth during spring and summer.
If you have gone through all of the above but none of it really fits what is going on with your Devil’s Ivy then it may simply be natural ageing. Over time it’s totally normal for your Devil’s Ivy to drop some of its oldest leaves as it focuses on new bigger growth. These old leaves will often turn yellow before falling off the plant. You will find that the leaves that fall off with natural ageing are the top leaves, closest to the root system. If lower leaves are falling off, then it usually means something else is wrong.
There you have the most common causes of leaves falling off Devil’s Ivy plants. If it is natural ageing then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s almost a good sign as it means your plant is maturing and ageing well. However, if watering issues or other environmental factors are causing your Devil’s Ivy to lose leaves then it’s something that needs attention as soon as possible. If your Devil’s Ivy is already at the stage of losing leaves, then it means the problem has progressed quite far so acting quickly will help prevent your plant from dying altogether.
To discover more about caring for your plant, including our general top tips, propagation advice and how to diagnose and treat other common issues, check out our Devil’s Ivy care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson