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Friday - July 03, 2009

From: Kingsport, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Plants to replace poison ivy in Kingsport TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Am in the process of killing off poison ivy that is growing vigorously. What do you recommend to plant in its place. I don't want to leave area open to other invasive plants. (Yes, poison ivy is a native but need to remove it since children frequent the area.) Would like to plant it with something that is an equally (if not more) vigorous plant.


What you are asking for is a plant or plants that can suppress Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy), right? Sorry, fighting poison ivy is a never-ending battle, because the conditions it likes are also liked by many more desirable plants. And even when you have pulled out and/or killed the existing vines, the birds will deposit more seeds. We are going to suggest some plants for the area that flourish in the same semi-shady, moist conditions that the poison ivy does, and try to select some that look different enough from the leaves of the poison ivy that you will notice it quickly and get it out before it takes hold. Dense shrubs can hide the vine and the leaves will blend right in, so we are going to suggest some native grasses. They are tough, durable, with long, fibrous roots which will hopefully discourage the poison ivy and the grass blades certainly do not look like poison ivy leaves, so the invader will be visible and available for destroying.

We're going to go to our Native Plant Database, and do a Combination Search for Tennessee, specifying Grasses for Habit, and part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun) for Light Requirement. We are also going to suggest a couple of low ground covers native to Tennessee. They won't suppress poison ivy, either, but the ivy leaves will stand out noticeably when they come up and these ground covers can tolerate light foot traffic. 

Native Grasses for Tennessee

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - perennial warm season grass, 2 to 3 ft. tall, sun or part shade

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge) - evergreen, part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - sun or part shade

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft. tall, deciduous, part shade or shade

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - 1 to 2 ft., part shade or shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 3 to 6 ft., sun or part shade

Ground Covers for Tennessee

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot)- sun or part shade, 3 to 4 inches tall

Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort) - to 1 ft. tall, sun, part shade or shade

Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex cherokeensis

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Schizachyrium scoparium

Dichondra carolinensis

Hydrocotyle umbellata






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