Green Circle Growers Blog

Keep English Ivy Under Control

Green Circle Growers - Monday, November 01, 2010

Attractive and easy to grow, English Ivy (Hedera) is a common feature in many gardens. A prolific grower with beautiful, star-shaped evergreen foliage, English Ivy is particularly attractive when allowed to encircle the base of a tree. Thriving equally well in full shade or bright sun, it is often used to stabilize garden slopes against erosion or fill in large shady areas where other plants fail.

Care must be taken to keep English Ivy trimmed or it will quickly overwhelm other landscape features and grow beyond garden boundaries. An aggressive climber, English Ivy can often be seen climbing up tree trunks or brick chimneys. If not controlled, it will wrap around tree trunks and branches, trail into grassy lawns, sneak under siding. Once established, this prolific creeper is difficult to rip out and get rid of. Periodic trimming -- about once a month from spring through fall -- will help confine ivy to its designated growth areas and keep it from overwhelming the landscape.

Some gardeners like the look of ivy growing up the trunk of a stately tree; others fear that the ivy may choke or damage trees. While not a parasitic plant, English Ivy is an invasive climber. It does not attack the flesh of the tree, but climbs vertically up the trunk, sinking its roots into the outer layer of bark. Arborists, however, recommend trimming English Ivy at the base of the tree to prevent it from climbing, warning that it attracts harmful pests and decreases exposure to sunlight, neither of which promote healthy tree grow. If English Ivy has already covered a tree and you wish to remove it, cutting through all the ivy stems around the base of the tree will kill the ivy.