English Ivy around my tree?

heidiho(St. Martinville, La. Zn.8)October 31, 2010

I want to put english ivy around the base of one of my trees; is this a good time to do this or should I wait until the spring?

Thanks for your time and have a nice day.

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I would not recommend it at all. It is a very aggressive vine and if it climbs up the tree, it is dangerous for the tree plus it makes berries and birds spread it.

Would you like some suggestions for a different ground cover?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 9:15AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I agree with esh! There are a lot of tree companies out there making some good money removing English Ivy from tree canopies! You don't want to add to their income that way, do you? ;-)

I'll suggest, right off the bat, that you consider Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis) as an option. A close relative to the English Ivy, but it does not have the tendency to climb. Rather, it becomes a fast growing ground cover, and is a favorite option under the dense shade of Live Oaks in the South.

This would be an ideal time for the planting of just about anything, in your location. Woody plants, in particular, appreciate being established in the fall/winter in warm climates.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 3:52PM
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English ivy is a traditional, time-honored plant that has been used in American gardens for generations. I have always loved English ivy and always will love it. Go ahead and use ivy at the base of your tree, and have no reservations about it. If you prefer not to allow the ivy to grow up into the canopy of the tree, simply do what reasonable gardeners do to control its upward growth. At eye level, or maybe a little higher, prune the runners of the ivy and, thus, control it. Some ivy growers allow their ivy to grow to a certain height and, then, gently pull the long runners off the tree trunk and let them hang downward as attractive, evergreen, streamers.

This being said, mature English ivy cloaking a large tree is truly attractive. In the fall, it blooms with multitudes of curious, other worldly, light green blossoms which develop into beautiful dark blue fruits, which become a welcome food source of the robins in late winter as those berries ferment. A tree adorned with mature ivy will entertain you with a host of "rockin' robins"--drunk on ivy berries. Ivy is a "thing of beauty and a joy forever." Remember, too, that it will take several years for newly planted ivy to grow very much. An old horticultural ivy adage is "The first year it sleeps; the next year it creeps; and the next year it leaps." Be patient as you wait for this fine vine to leap.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 5:46PM
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heidiho(St. Martinville, La. Zn.8)

Will take all suggestions into consideration.
I have the ivy in a big pot and need to put it somewhere so I may just take my chances putting it around the tree and keep it trimmed as jay suggested.
Thanks so much for taking the time to help me.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 11:21PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

heidiho, you may want to check with your Department of Natural Resources or similar organization so that you can get some first hand information about this plant's invasive status. I believe that it is considered a 'threat' species in your state. That, alone, should give anyone pause about planting it in the landscape.

Jay's descriptions are indeed romantic, but not based on the reality of how English Ivy behaves in a semi-tropical environment. And the very last thing that should happen is for this plant to achieve sexual maturity so that drunken birds can spread the seeds far and wide.

If you have the ivy in a pot right now, why not keep it there? In the spring, you could take it out of the container and give it a good root pruning so that you can add some fresh potting medium to the same pot. English Ivy can thrive for many years in the same container with very little effort....much longer than most plants. Annual root pruning is the secret to keeping it happy and healthy in the same container. I'd be glad to walk you through that process, if you'd like to email me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's some great information!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 6:01AM
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My current home came with an island planting of Canadian Hemlocks and holly. Planted at the base was English ivy. While I can appreciate the appeal of ivy in certain environments, there are issues with it near specimen trees. Given a couple of years, it takes off. The ivy was beginning to smother the hemlocks, so I radically cut them back. There is still some ivy in the island but radically reduced and definitely not growing into the tree canopy. I pruned the lowest branches of the hemlocks and introduced several different 'ground covers' including, ajuga, Irish and Scottish moss and several varieties of ferns.--I'm sure, they, like most ground covers can be invasive, but at least they they stay on the ground.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:54AM
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I wonder if large areas of ivy-covered ground promote mosquitoes? No scientific evidence of this, but plenty of anecdotal.

Maybe they thrive in the dark moist undercanopy of the ivy?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:07PM
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