Stacy Cowdery, South Central Power Company
Q. Hi Chip! We live in a beautiful wooded neighborhood in Circleville, and some of our trees are starting to become covered in English ivy. They were this way when we bought our home a few years ago. Is this safe for the trees or will the ivy eventually kill them? If it is unhealthy, what’s the best way to remove it? One tree is completely taken over by ivy, and I’m assuming it is dead. I’m attaching a photo.
A. Stacy: I referred your question to a professional forester friend of mine, Chad Sanders, who works as a manager for the Ohio DNR, Division of Forestry, at Mohican State Forest. Below are his comments and suggestions.
“English ivy is tough stuff. Very invasive. Since it’s a waxy leaf plant, an herbicide that would kill it needs to have an oil base to penetrate the leaves and stems. Unfortunately, the herbicides that would work on ivy — Garlon (active ingredient triclopyr) or Arsenal (active ingredient imazapyr) — would also work on trees. So, there would be a risk of killing the tree when trying to kill the English ivy.
“The best, and about the only option, is to physically cut ivy. Use hand pruners or loppers. Cut all the vines at ground level. Cut again a few feet up the tree trunk, so the vines don’t reattach to the ground. The vines in the trees will die. You then just have to continually fight with cutting/pulling/digging the vines out. You probably will never totally get rid of the ivy, but over time, if you get it localized, then maybe herbicide could be used without risk to the trees.”
It sounds like you have some work to do, Stacy. I hope this helps… Chip