Curious about english ivy in the south

bahia(SF Bay Area)April 13, 2012

I'm curious to get feedback from gardeners and designers in the southern states about general attitudes towards English ivy as large scale ground cover in the southern states. I realize it can be useful as a planting for shaded areas that one doesn't want to summer irrigate or too shaded for other plants to grow well. I'm interested to hear opinions/experiences with ivy, both good and bad. On other forums I've heard claims that ivy doesn't harbor or encourage rats, and is not a problem invasive to neighbors or wilderness areas from bird spread seed. This tends to contradict experience with English ivy here on the west coast. Anyone have thoughts on ivy's. Pros or cons? TIA for taking time to reply.

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It absolutely is invasive in the south. Many of the old neighbors in Atlanta are covered in it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:40PM
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I can only assume that esh_ga meant to say "old neighborhoods in Atlanta" rather than "old neighbors in Atlanta"; but then, I don't know her neighbors, their ages, or their physical mobility. If, indeed, it is Atlanta "neighborhoods" to which she refers, I can only say that those "old neighborhoods" are made more attractive by the presence of English ivy. But then, I also enjoy Atlanta's kudzu.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 6:55PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

bahia, English Ivy is rarely used in landscapes these days for the reasons you've experienced. It's invasive and damaging. It's famous for providing cover for rats as well as the snakes that come after the rats.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Not sure why we're limiting the invasiveness of ivy to the South. Here in the North it can suffocate mature trees if you let it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 7:58AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

nj, the original poster was specifically asking about the use of English ivy in the south. ;-)

Removal of ivy on valuable trees (Live Oaks, in particular) is a good way to keep the tree crews busy during a slow period. The stuff is a scourge, in urban, suburban, rural, and forested locations.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Ah yes, I meant old "neighborhoods".

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Why doth the ivory climb?

I am so thankful that our native poke plants were unscathed by the recent chilly weather. They're standing tall--however, a little too mature, due to our early spring, for that old Southern treat--poke salad, or "sallet," as some call it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:58PM
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chrmann(z7 AL)

My Mother-in-law gave me some English Ivy about 25 years ago. It was gorgeous for awhile. It started growing up a tree and now, we realize it is a nuisace! We are afraid our tree will die. I have been told if the English Ivy grows to the top of the tree, the tree will die. Our ivy has not grown over half-way up this tree until last year when we had a drought. It is now inches from the top of the tree. My husband is trying to kill the English Ivy. The stems from the ivy are about 2 inches in diameter. English Ivy is on the list of plants that will give you a rash like poison ivy. So, if you need to prune or carry the ivy anywhere, you could get a rash. Some people (lucky them)do not seam to get a rash.

We wish we had never planted the English Ivy! For years, we loved it.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Dear chrmann z7 AL,
My mother planted English ivy on some of our mature white oaks in the late 1940's. Over time, the ivy has become "mature ivy" that flowers, fruits, and feeds some of our songbirds. The ivy has also grown high into the treetops; but the growth of the trees has always outpaced the growth of the ivy. The evergreen ivy is very attractive on the sturdy oaks, especially in the wintertime--a thing of beauty, and a joy forever.

As to whether ivy is a skin irritant: I've never had a rash from it. Do you know what percentage of the human population is supposed to break out in an ivy-induced rash? Surely a small percentage in comparison with those who are affected by poison oak or poison ivy.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 6:22PM
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IMO, ivy is a scourge. As to tree damage, the main problem comes when there are ice storms. The additional weight can bring down limbs overloaded with ivy.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 6:45PM
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I have a very steep hill where the previous owners planted it. It has helped eliminate the errosion issues, but is now climbing the trees. I pulled a bunch of it last week.
I have seen snakes come out of it too. Yikes.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:55PM
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topsiebeezelbub(z7 Al)

I have found that it outgrows other plants, but if you are just covering bare dirt, why not use some of the smaller fancier leaf varieties? Keeping it out of trees is not a big deal, and I've read that it actually protects building from weather. I have lots of rats.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:08AM
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