En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Elimination of non-native English ivy in Maryland

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 11, 2009

From: Linthicum Heights, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Problem Plants
Title: Elimination of non-native English ivy in Maryland
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have Old English Ivy sprouting up throughout my side yard. What can I do to get rid of it? Would putting lime down help or Crabgrass control? What would you suggest and the easier the better as I am disabled.

ANSWER:

Hedera helix, English Ivy is native to Africa, Asia and Europe and therefore out of our range of expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It is, however, considered a noxious weed and invasive in 18 states and the District of Columbia, including Maryland. Introduced invasives are very much a concern of ours, and we will try to help you find a way to control it in your yard.

This Plant Conservation Alliance website Least Wanted-English Ivy details how it grows, climbing masonry and trees with equal ease, spreading both by seeds and underground roots, and spread by birds. Of course, the primary and most environmentally safe way to eliminate an intruder is to pull it out, roots and all, and keep doing that until the plant is starved out. We realize you probably cannot follow that course; however, we don't think broadcasting anything, including lime and crabgrass killer, is wise. The reason is, anything sprayed or broadcast can kill or damage other plants besides those you are trying to get rid of, and add a chemical presence to your environment that is not beneficial. 

The course of action we want to recommend may still require your recruiting some help, but is the least dangerous to the environment. Equipment you will need: a broad-leaf herbicide, of which there are a great many on the market, in liquid, not spray form, some small disposable foam paintbrushes, and a good clipper or pruner, that will cut through the plant stems very close to the ground. When you have cut the stem as near to the soil surface and the root as possible, immediately paint the cut stem surface with the herbicide. This needs to be done within 5 minutes, as the plant will quickly try to seal off the cut surface. You want to get the herbicide into the living root, where it will hopefully spread through the root system. This will need to be repeated wherever you can find stems emerging from roots in the ground for maximum efficiency. Be careful not to splash or spill the herbicide on the ground, because you don't want to contaminate the soil for some future plant. Any of the above-ground tendrils you can pull up or pick up and discard, do so, as this will make it easier to locate (and eliminate) any remaining viable roots. If any of the ivy is climbing trees, trim the roots at the base of the tree, treat them, and then cut the stems above to hasten their dying and being removed from the trunk of the tree. Try to keep the herbicide away from the trunk of the tree. 

This time of year, the English ivy will be be green, and Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy), which may be cohabiting with it, will still be bare of leaves, so you can at least distinguish the two. Be cautious to avoid direct contact with the poison ivy, and try to eliminate it the same way as the Hedera helix.

Pictures of English Ivy 


Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron radicans

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Decline in non-native crape myrtles
June 15, 2007 - I live in Round Rock and the ground is rocky about one foot beneath the surface. I have about 14 crape myrtles that have been doing very well for about 6 years now. Last year the leaves on 1 started...
view the full question and answer

Will a Norfolk pine survive winter in Houston
May 29, 2008 - If I transplant a Norfolk pine in the summer, or when is the best time, will it survive the winter growing in Houston Tx? Can you give me some suggestions for fast growing vines facing the front of my...
view the full question and answer

Caring for non-native African violet
September 05, 2006 - How do you care for the African violet?
view the full question and answer

Identification of a tree in Florida with bell-shaped red flowers
November 23, 2012 - A friend in Florida has asked about identification of a tree with a flower none of us have ever seen. It starts with a green pod, then flowers into, what looks to me like a Chinese lantern, or bell. I...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine, replacing with native plants
October 06, 2007 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, always excited to talk to the Green Guru himself. I've recently purchased a house in South Austin and am interested in establishing a small, 500+ sq ft, prairie grass and wi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center