Does English Ivy Kill Trees?

Asked April 6, 2020, 1:44 PM EDT

I have read/heard two opinions on this. If I do not cut off the English Ivy that is growing up my trees, will the ivy eventually kill the trees? Thanks.

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

English ivy is an invasive vine. Dense foliage blocks sunlight and restricts growth of other plants. Heavy vines cause damage and death to mature trees by loosening the bark and holding moisture against the trunk, making a good environment for fungal disease and decay. Heavy vines can take trees down in wind, snow, and icy conditions, etc.

We recommend removal. To eradicate English ivy that is growing on trees cut the vine off at the base of the tree and paint the newly cut end of the vine with a systemic herbicide (containing glyphosate or triclopyr) at high strength. Read the product instructions pertaining to tough weeds. Do not let the herbicide get directly on the tree. Do not pull the vines from the tree as this can damage the bark. The vine will dieback on its own on the tree trunk.

For English ivy groundcover, pull up as much as you can, dig out the roots as well as you can, and repeat until it no longer re-sprouts; or treat the re-growth with an herbicide (applying it directly to the foliage, not the ground).
See more on our website https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/english-ivy

Marian