is Virginia Creeper killing my tree?

lmarks(z6 NY)May 9, 2007

I have a big old Catalpa tree (about 30' high) which is starting to get partly covered with Virginia Creeper from a neighbor's yard. I'm noticing this spring that while the upper limbs are getting buds, the lower limbs, the ones that have the vine on them, have not produced any buds yet. Is it possible that the vine is choking off these lower branches? Do you think I should have the vine removed? (I'm pregnant and won't be getting up on a ladder myself anytime soon!) Since the vine originates in a neighbor's yard, keeping it off the tree altogether would require constant vigilance. Thanks for all advice.

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Virginia Creeper is a pretty vine, it gets orange red in the fall. I would just consider it part of the "flora" Nah,I don't think it will hurt the tree. :) Arum

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 8:19AM
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Yes, the vine is killing your tree. First it will strangle the lower brances and then it will shade out the tree's canopy of leaves. Please cut it back. Ripping it out is next to impossible, but cutting it back once a year would be fine. Also, talk to your neighbor. They might not want to lose trees either!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 4:30PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I have an old virginia creeper that's growing into an old pine tree in my yard and I think it's glorious. No harm has come to the tree or it's branches over all the years it's grown there.

If it was english ivy, I'd say take it down but VC is a much more tree friendly vine.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 2:47PM
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Karen Pease

I agree, creeper is very pretty. It grows all over the place around here, and nobody seems to mind, nor have I ever seen a tree that appeared to be killed by it. Of course, it will shade leaves just like any climber. Both catalpas and virginia creeper are native to the same places, incl. NY, so I'd think they'd tolerate each other reasonably well.

Google seems to confirm this. It's aggressive, vigorous, and hard to control, but it doesn't strangle or smother nearly as much as wisteria, kudzu, or english ivy. Oh, and the berries attract birds.

BTW, Wikipedia mentions that it's a beneficial plant for buildings. It helps keep buildings cool through blocking sunlight and through transpiration, but it doesn't damage them because it bonds through adhesive pads, not penetrating roots. To remove it, first kill the plant and leave it up. After a while, the adhesive will fail and it will be easier to remove.

Hmm, reading up about the cooling benefits makes me want to plant some; I always though they were rather pretty. And take a look at that Southern French -- wow, that's redder than my burning bushes :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 5:45PM
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Westview(Zone 8, N. TX)

We are in North Texas. There was Virginia Creeper in our big oaks for the 35 years we lived in our old house. It was pretty, esp. in the fall but it never bothered the trees. However, it might shade out the leaves of a small tree---these were really big really old oak trees and they laughed off mistletoe and vines.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 8:46PM
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lmarks(z6 NY)

Thanks for the responses - I'm puzzled because the lower limbs are in fact dead now, and they're the only ones that have the vine on them (so far).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 11:10AM
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I have a virginia creeper which keeps trying to invade the trees in my backyard. Just cut the vine where it is going up into your tree--the vine will die there. I know it will look shabby for a little bit (until the dead leaves blow off), but you will have solved your problem--it won't be alive. And don't feel bad about doing it--you didn't invite it into your yard...if you don't want it, eliminate it.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:05PM
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I can kill trees. It just took out several of our neighbors cedar pines. 3 in a row! I don't think it's the vine choking out the tree from the top, but the size of the roots. They become very, very large.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 9:56AM
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I recommend that the original poster ask this question in the Trees forum, as it's more about the tree than the vine. If she wants to get the vine out of the tree, no ladder should be necessary - cut the "trunk" of the vine at ground level (and keep after it), and the upper growth will die; we got ivy out of our oak tree that way.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 10:21PM
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