Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Monday - March 23, 2009

From: Greenville, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Will an ivy vine growing up my maple kill it?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a ground cover ivy vine that has grown up my big maple tree. I would like to know if this will kill the tree if left, or will I kill the tree if I take it off? What should I do with it?

ANSWER:

Your ground cover ivy (you don't mention the kind) needs three things to survive; light, water, and nutrients. Your big maple tree needs the same three things; thus they are competitors. The maple tree has the advantage because of a massive root sytem to absorb water and nutrients, and because its trunk and branches can put its leaves up high in order to absorb sunlight. The ivy plant probably can get sufficient moisture and nutrients with its root system, but it most likely isn't getting enough light under the shade of the maple tree. To get more light, it needs a new strategy; grow up the big trunk and branches of the maple tree. This is why your ground cover is becoming aerial.

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks the the answer to your first two questions is no. Generally, ivy vines won't kill trees, but  their presence on the tree is not with out some consequences. If the growth of the ivy becomes excessive, the ivy leaves may block sunlight from the maple leaves, and the weight of the ivy may weaken the limbs of the maple and cause them to break. Removing the ivy won't kill the tree. Just do it carefully so you don't damage the tree bark.

Remove? Don't remove? This a pesonal preference. These two links gives several pros and cons regarding ivy vines in trees.

Trees Atlanta

Classy Groundcovers

 

More Vines Questions

Should Ipomea alba be planted in a yard in Spring, TX?
April 23, 2012 - I would like to know if there is any reason not to plant Tropical Morning glory (Moon Flower-Ipomoea alba)in my yard. Is it toxic or aggressivley invasive? I am looking at a space in my side yard wi...
view the full question and answer

California Vine for Privacy Screening
November 06, 2014 - I have a two story house going up behind my back yard. I would like to plant a climbing vine with non-invasive roots to provide privacy. I live in Los Angeles and the trellis would receive almost full...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for vine in Kentucky
April 26, 2010 - Need to know the name of a plant. It grows in Eastern KY, south WVA and West VA. It grows alone riverbanks and creeks. It is a weed, in the spring it has a white bloom and bees work it like crazy. ...
view the full question and answer

Purple leatherflower with white bloom
July 17, 2014 - A couple of years ago at the wildflower center native plant sale I bought a purple leatherflower according to the tag. This is the first year it has bloomed and the blooms are pure white. The shape ma...
view the full question and answer

Protection from native invasive trumpet vines
April 17, 2008 - Mr. SP: I have invaders! Trumpet vines from a neighbor's yard, two doors away have taken over and are eating my garage and trying to steal all the sun from my clematis vines. How do I get rid of...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.