Did You Know? Ivy in Trees

Today’s post is about ivy in trees. If you look around, you’ll see it everywhere. It seems so innocent as it starts to creep and crawl up your trees. It’s even attractive. But then the crawl turns into a dash and before you know it, the ivy is at the top of your trees and it’s completely out of your reach.

Many people wonder if ivy in trees is really a bad thing. Let me assure you that it is bad…really bad. Let’s look at some of the reasons:

  1. Ivy grows at an almost exponential rate and shades out the foliage of your tree. Without the leaves of the tree photosynthesizing, your tree is a goner.
  2. With its thick growth, ivy also provides great cover for all sorts of pests and diseases that can affect your tree. The ivy also keeps the trunk and stems moist which invites disease all by itself.
  3. Perhaps one of the most overlooked reasons for not allowing ivy to take over your trees is the increased canopy that is susceptible to wind. The ivy acts like a sail on a sailboat and can cause your tree to go down during a summer thunderstorm, or worse, a hurricane.


ivy in treesSo what can you if your ivy has already has escaped into your trees? Depending on the size of the vine, you can either try to physically pull the ivy out of the trees or cut the vine near the base of the tree. It’s not a bad idea to do both.  I must warn you that if you cut the vine and leave the remaining ivy in the tree, you won’t kill all of the ivy. Ivy is amazingly tough and has probably rooted into your tree. I don’t mean that it has tapped into the vascular system of the tree like mistletoe does but it has rooted onto the stems and with all of the shade that the ivy provides, there’s still a lot of moisture available to sustain the ivy. Don’t be discouraged…just keep battling the monster once pruning cut at a time.

Another warning: the ivy that is successfully killed by your pruning cuts will turn brown in your tree. It won’t last long but I wanted to warn you that the tree that you’re trying to save will look as though it has died. Take pleasure in seeing the brown ivy; you’re one step closer to an ivy-free tree.

Persistence is the key to eliminating the ivy in your trees. Realize that with every piece of ivy you remove from your tree, your tree is breathing a sigh of relief. If your tree is particularly overgrown with ivy, you may want to consider hiring a Certified Arborist with a bucket truck. They will be able to access much more of the canopy than you can from the ground.

Do you have any experience with ivy in trees? Do you have other methods that you’ve used to successfully remove ivy? Leave me a comment below or e-mail me…I’d love to hear what’s worked for you! If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!