WSU Extension

Hortsense

Weeds : English ivy : Hedera helix
(revision date: 6/9/2016)

Family: Araliaceae
Cycle: Perennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Biology
English ivy is a low, dark green, fast-growing evergreen vine. It establishes roots at its nodes as it creeps along the ground, or aerial rootlets as it climbs trees and structures. It is widely planted in the West as a ground cover and as a climbing vine for fences and walls. Juvenile leaves are 3- to 5- lobed, between 2 and 4" long, and usually bear whitish or yellowish green veins. Upon growing vertically for several years, ivy will enter a mature reproductive phase, developing stiff branches with unlobed leaves up to 6" long. It then bears greenish-white clumps of flowers, followed by small black berry-like fruits. SPECIAL INFORMATION: In WASHINGTON, four cultivars of English ivy are designated as Class 'C' noxious weeds: Hedera helix 'Baltica,' 'Pittsburgh,' and 'Star' and Hedera hibernica 'Hibernica.' In OREGON, all varieties of Hedera helix and/or Hedera hibernica are designated as Class 'B' noxious weeds. They are also on the Oregon noxious weed quarantine list, which prohibits sale, purchase, and transport of plants, seeds, and plant parts. Management may be required by law in your county. Consult your local Noxious Weed Control Board for more information.
Habitat
English ivy thrives in rich, fairly moist, organic, well-drained soil under any level of sunlight. It can become invasive on woodland floors if left unchecked, smothering small plants in its path. It is known to completely cover tree trunks and larger limbs. While it is not parasitic, the dense ivy canopy may contribute to wind damage of trees because it catches the wind and creates a "sail" effect.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Mow it close to the ground, then dig up the roots, removing as many as possible.
  • After top growth is cleared as much as possible, cover with a double layer of landscape fabric, black plastic, or cardboard, covered with bark or mulch.
  • To control ivy growing vertically, cut and pull it down in sections, and dig out the roots.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

When using glyphosate, it is best to cut or mow the ivy back as much as possible, and then paint the injured areas of cambium with the herbicide. NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
Turf areas
    Bare ground areas
    • glyphosate
    Images
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    Caption: English ivy leaves
    Photo by: C.R. Foss
    Caption: English ivy vines
    Photo by: T.W. Miller
    Caption: English ivy flowers
    Photo by: T.W. Miller
    Caption: English ivy blooming
    Photo by: T.W. Miller
    Caption: English ivy vines climbing tree
    Photo by: B.M. Johnson
    Caption: English ivy vines
    Photo by: C.R. Foss
    Caption: English ivy vines climbing tree
    Photo by: B.M. Johnson