Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ever wondered what the best flowers and plants are for your garden? Search our extensive database of frequently asked questions - and their answers! Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
       
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with a Plant Identification, submit your photo to the Green Guru.

rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - March 23, 2009

From: Greenville, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Landscaping, Miscellaneous
Title: Will an ivy vine growing up my maple kill it?
Author: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a ground cover ivy vine that has grown up my big maple tree. I would like to know if this will kill the tree if left, or will I kill the tree if I take it off? What should I do with it?

ANSWER:

Your ground cover ivy (you don't mention the kind) needs three things to survive; light, water, and nutrients. Your big maple tree needs the same three things; thus they are competitors. The maple tree has the advantage because of a massive root sytem to absorb water and nutrients, and because its trunk and branches can put its leaves up high in order to absorb sunlight. The ivy plant probably can get sufficient moisture and nutrients with its root system, but it most likely isn't getting enough light under the shade of the maple tree. To get more light, it needs a new strategy; grow up the big trunk and branches of the maple tree. This is why your ground cover is becoming aerial.

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks the the answer to your first two questions is no. Generally, ivy vines won't kill trees, but  their presence on the tree is not with out some consequences. If the growth of the ivy becomes excessive, the ivy leaves may block sunlight from the maple leaves, and the weight of the ivy may weaken the limbs of the maple and cause them to break. Removing the ivy won't kill the tree. Just do it carefully so you don't damage the tree bark.

Remove? Don't remove? This a pesonal preference. These two links gives several pros and cons regarding ivy vines in trees.

Trees Atlanta

Classy Groundcovers

 
Please support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

More on Landscaping from Mr. Smarty Plants

Question: October 13, 2009 - I just built an in ground pool in Plano, Texas and now want to landscape around it on my own. I am curious what plants/shrubs you recommend. There will be plants/shrubs on three sides of the pool. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Question: October 13, 2009 - I am pretty new at this landscaping flower thing, but I love it. We just moved out to the country in NE Missouri from Colorado (Huge difference, but love it). We have decided to have our wedding at our new country home and are looking at a June date. I really want my yard to look spectacular because most of my family and friends think I'm nuts for my extreme move so this is my chance to impress...
view the full question and answer

Question: October 07, 2009 - We just moved into a new home with a pool in the backyard. We are trying to figure out what to plant along the back fence to allow for a bit of privacy; we have no direct backyard neighbors but there is a walking trail directly behind our home. We live in Friendswood so I know it's zone 9. We are looking for something that grows 6-9 feet fairly quickly, that's pretty but doesn't have a lot o...
view the full question and answer