You might have heard that it’s bad luck to grow ivy indoors, but aren’t sure how much credence to put in the superstition. Well, you’re in the right place, we’re going to get to the bottom of this one and discuss whether or not it is bad luck to grow ivy indoors.
My grandparents were quite superstitious, and a lot of those superstitions were passed down to me. However, this one wasn’t one of them—on the contrary, my granddad absolutely loved to grow ivy as a houseplant. He grew all sorts of the stuff, from the plain old wild type to much prettier variegated forms. Regardless, ivy was ever-present. Moreover, cuttings were always being taken and—once rooted—given to friends and family as gifts!
So, it is worth noting in this introduction that the author is bringing a significant degree of bias to the table!
Indoors or Outdoors – Does It Matter?
The titular question of this subsection is important. This is because, it is said, that sometimes ivy is good luck and sometimes ivy is bad luck. What makes the difference, according to some traditions, is whether the ivy is grown indoors or outdoors. Because, when grown outside, ivy is a symbol of good luck. Whereas, when ivy is grown indoors it supposedly brings very bad luck.
Bad Luck To Grow Ivy Indoors – Could It Be The Fairies?!
Because ivy outdoors is considered good luck, but ivy indoors is considered bad luck, it could be that this belief arose in connection with some beliefs relating to woodland fairies.
It is believed, by some, that the fairies will be unhappy if you take something from their home—the woodlands. To them, that would be considered stealing. Therefore, perhaps the idea that growing ivy indoors is bad luck, is because “stealing” ivy from a picturesque woodland grove—a common home of the fabled fae folk—would anger the fairies.
Christmas Traditions and Ivy – Good Luck Or Bad Luck
It is said that it is okay—luck-wise—to bring ivy indoors at Christmas, but not any other time. The origin of this exception, like many superstitions, isn’t exactly clear. However, it is considered to be the feminine counterpart of the masculine holly tree. The holly tree is also brought indoors during the Christmas period.
This isn’t the end of the traditional beliefs relating to ivy and the wintertime holidays. One traditional practice was to pluck an ivy leaf and place it in a bowl of water. If, after a period of time, the ivy leaf was still green and healthy, then the person’s new year would be a lucky one! However, if the ivy leaf turns brown and dies, then the coming year could be a bad one indeed!
Having Money Problems?
Growing ivy indoors also has a traditional association with finances. Again, unfortunately, the origin of this belief is difficult to pinpoint. However, it is claimed that growing ivy indoors will invite bad luck in financial matters. So much so that it is said that a household with ivy grown inside will always be poor, no matter what. I can’t help but think of my grandparents who always had an ivy plant on the windowsill and were never able to break out of poverty.
Any Common Sense Behind This Belief?
This belief might have a decent amount of common sense behind it. For a couple of reasons.
The first one is that ivy is poisonous. This causes a lot of confusion, because of the North American “poison ivy” plant which, technically speaking, is actually not a type of ivy. However, it is “poisonous” in a sense in that it can cause an unpleasant irritation of the skin. Adding even more confusion to the situation is that “true” ivy (scientific name Hedera helix) also grows in North America—it was brought to the Americas by European colonists. This ivy has a few common names, such as English ivy or common ivy. While English ivy won’t irritate your skin as you brush against it like poison ivy will, it will upset your stomach if you eat the leaves because it is mildly poisonous.
So, that could be part of the origin of the association of ivy with bad luck. Our long distant ancestors might have gotten mighty hungry and tried a leaf or two in search of sustenance. After eating the leaves, the poor diners would have experience a degree of discomfort. Therefore, ivy is “bad luck”.
It’s Not a Great House Plant
Of course, it can be grown well indoors. It doesn’t necessarily need a great deal of light. In nature, it often forms part of the undergrowth and therefore is restricted in the amount of light it gets. So, light-wise, it could tolerate being grown indoors. However, it does like a moist environment, so that could be difficult to provide in a heated and dry home.
As such, it could be that ivy brought indoors did not thrive. It’s understandable that our forebears might have taken the death of a plant brought indoors to be an omen of bad luck.
Conclusion: Is It Bad Luck To Grow Ivy Indoors?
When deciding if something is or isn’t bad luck, we use a few flexible determiners. One of them is whether or not a belief surrounding bad luck is “traditional”, i.e. is there evidence that suggests this belief is long-held. Also, we consider whether or not a belief surrounding bad luck is still widely believed.
So, by those two factors, bringing ivy indoors being bad luck isn’t a clear “yes”. However, on the other hand, we have lots of traditional beliefs about ivy and luck associated with the winter festivities. Additionally, there’s some commonsense evidence that suggests bringing ivy indoors is a bad idea.
Ultimately, we’re going to have throw this one on the “maybe” pile!
Here’s the final answer:
Is It Bad Luck To Grow Ivy Indoors? Maybe!