Does Ivy Harm Trees?

Asked September 20, 2018, 1:25 PM EDT

I am drafting our community's next community newsletter. A neighbor asked if I could include an article about the damage ivy can do when it is allowed to climb a tree. I have found conflicting articles online. I was hoping to find something on your website, but have been unsuccessful. Perhaps I'm not using the correct search terms. Can you provide me with, or point me to accurate information on this topic?

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

You are probably referring to English ivy. A search on that may be more successful for you.

Here is our webpage on English ivy, a serious foreign invasive plant:

Not only does it eventually overwhelm and smother or shade trees to death (or its weight can contribute to taking down the tree in a storm), but because it only becomes a mature plant when it climbs, that is when it is more harmful. Then, it produces berries which birds spread into our parks and natural areas, where it begins to aggressively out-compete our native plants that our wildlife need.

As a groundcover, it is very difficult to keep under control. It can grow across lawns below the blades of mowers until it reaches a woods or natural area where it can grow unchecked.

We do not recommend planting English ivy, and we strongly urge Marylanders to replace it and never plant it.