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I have a two-fold question: (1) how does English Ivy spread? Over 20 years ago we were told it was alright to allow the English Ivy to be on a magnificent tree that was as tall as a 2-story house. The tree died, and I keep finding the Ivy all over our almost 4 acres. (2) Is there a good way to kill it? I have been pulling it up, but it keeps getting ahead of me. KC
Do not ever plant English Ivy! English Ivy
(Hedera helix L.) is an evergreen vine that is a member of
the ginseng family. It is native to Europe, Western Asia
and Northern Africa. European colonists brought English
Ivy with them as a decorative plant. It has spread across
26 states and is a major problem especially along the east
coast of the United States and in the Pacific Northwest.
Using aerial roots, English Ivy climbs on anything, plant
or object, in its path. It spreads by runners (elongated
horizontal stems) and by bird-dispersed seeds. As it
grows along the ground, it forms a dense blanket of
growth that prevents sunlight from reaching the plants
growing beneath it, reducing plant diversity. It's able
to grow vertically up tree trunks into the canopy of tree,
spreading along the branches, adding extra weight to the
trees limbs, and eventually causing breakage. As the
ivy grows up the tree trunk it can loosen bark and hold
moisture against the trunk causing eventual decay and
death of the tree. When it has a chance to climb, English
Ivy produces small black fruits that are poisonous. Few
bird species feed on them.
English Ivy can also grow vertically several stories up
the sides of buildings clinging to masonry,
working its roots into joints. On wooden siding it can
grow under the shingles, eventually ripping
them off the building. It retains moisture and encourages rot.
The only way to manage English Ivy is to pull it up or
dig it up. Vines growing along the ground
can be smothered by covering them with plastic or a thick
layer of wet newspaper covered with
mulch during the summer. Climbing vines can be cut at
a chosen height, loosened from around
tree limbs and removed. Finally, vines can be cut
back repeatedly to starve the roots.
Be careful with the cut debris because English Ivy
can sprout from cuttings left in contact with the
ground. To dispose of it properly it needs to be
burned or bagged.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.