Be Successful Killing Poison Ivy

Rene Schmit  |  1/22/2013 10:15:41 PM

Poison Ivy grows as a woody vine and has a very wide distribution in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. It is common-place to find it growing along fences, up the trunks of trees and even in landscape beds. When mature, poison ivy produces a white fruit which is readily eaten by birds. The birds spread the seeds through their droppings, thus creating the wide occurrence of this plant.

Poison Ivy has a characteristic compound leaf consisting of three leaflets. Hence the saying, “Leaves of three, let it be!” The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long with pointed tips and exhibit either a dull or glossy green appearance. The middle leaflet generally is larger than the two laterals and the leaflets may appear irregularly toothed, lobed, or smooth but are always arranged alternately on the stems. Quite often, trumpet creper, which have 5 leaves, gets the blame as being poison ivy. Trumpet creper is a common, tall growing vine that is non-poisonous and produces orange colored flowers that resemble trumpets.

Basically, homeowners can utilize a variety of methods for successful eradication. The first would involve pulling or digging the plant out of the soil when the soil is wet.

The second would include spraying the foliage with a systemic herbicide and preferably one that contains the active ingredient triplopyr. This is only possible however when the spray will not get on the foliage of desirable plants. One way to protect desirable plants is to cover them with plastic sheets or bags when spraying the poison ivy.
The third would be to cut through the vine a few inches above the ground with loppers and immediately treat the fresh cut with an undiluted systemic herbicide which will prevent the plant from sprouting again.

The fourth method would involve using a brush and painting the poison ivy leaves with an undiluted systemic herbicide. Again, caution would be needed to avoid dripping the herbicide onto desirable plants. There are various systemic herbicide products available that do a good job in killing poison ivy such as Roundup, Eraser, Hi Yield Killzall, Brush-B-Gone Poison Ivy Killer, and Brush Killer and Greenlight Cut Vine and Stump Killer just to name a few. Keep in mind that older and larger poison ivy vines may require repeated herbicide applications for achieving total eradication. Prompt and aggressive action is the key to gaining effective control of poison ivy in the home landscape.

Always wear long pants and long sleeves in addition to gloves and boots when handling poison ivy. It is recommended to use gauntlet rubber gloves, which are available at local hardware stores, or dishwashing gloves over cotton gloves. After removing poison ivy plants, place them in a plastic bag, seal it, and throw it away. Never burn the plants as the urushiol from the plant can spread in the smoke and cause serious lung irritation. Be sure to wash your gloves with soap and water well prior to removal.
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