Ivy growing on Trees

Asked July 28, 2013, 5:44 PM EDT

I have three large oak trees in a bed covered with ivy. The ivy is growing up the trees. I have heard contradictory information as to whether this is bad for the health of the trees. I have also heard that if the ivy grows up as far as the crown, it brings more risk that the trees could fall during a major wind storm. What is the real truth of the matter about this ivy?

Montgomery County Pennsylvania forestry urban forestry

1 Response

Ivy can harm a tree in two ways. It can grow up into the crown and compete with the tree's leaves for light, or it can constrict the tree's trunk and large branches as both grow in diameter. I don't think that the latter happens that much. The storm thing is not true. Yes, more leaves in the crown might mean it will catch more wind, but unless the tree has no leaves of its own, the effect of the ivy wouldn't be much. when/if you want to get rid of the ivy just cut all of its stems at ground level. Then pull what you can off after a few years.