Invasive Vines

English Ivy, Kudzu, and other invasive vines are consuming Asheville's Tree Canopy one tree at a time

English ivy covering a tree

English Ivy

What it is: English ivy is an aggressive invader that threatens all vegetation levels of forested and open areas, growing along the ground as well as into the forest canopy. English ivy is native to Europe and was brought to the U.S. by early settlers as an ornamental. Since that time, its popularity as a landscape plant has continued. Its use as a roadside beautification and erosion control planting has augmented further spread. Vines climbing up tree trunks spread out and envelop branches and twigs, blocking sunlight from reaching the host tree’s foliage, thereby impeding photosynthesis. An infested tree will exhibit decline for several to many years before it dies. The added weight of vines also makes trees susceptible to blowing over during storms.

How to fight back: Mature stands of ivy can be difficult to control. Hand-pulling or clipping alone can be futile as mature ivy grows so aggressively. In the home landscape, a combination of mechanical and chemical methods will usually be necessary. You can get started during the winter months by hand-pulling as much of the vines as possible (without worrying about snakes or bee stings). You will notice the vines usually radiate out from a central clump or node; trace back to the nodes, cut the vines off, and bag the vines in large heavy duty garbage bags as you go. You may be able to use a weed-eater to buzz the ivy back down to the nodes and then rake the refuse up and bag it. Use clippers to sever any vines that have attached themselves to tree trunks. Allow the ivy to re-sprout during the growing season, then spot-spray the ground level foliage at central nodes with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant. If nodes continue to re-sprout, try using a 10% solution or painting the entire node with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable). If mechanical vine control prior to herbicide application is impractical, you can spray the stand with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer, but note that non-target plants may be at higher risk with this method. Increase solution strength if necessary and re-treat as needed for complete control. (Source: NC State University)


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Kudzu entirely covering a grove of trees

Kudzu

What it is: Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a perennial, high-climbing vine. Similar to English ivy but much more aggressive, kudzu grows over everything in its path, completely covering trees, buildings and even entire hillsides under a solid blanket of leaves. The vine can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm.) in a day and is not finicky about poor soils and unfavorable conditions. The vines grow up and over almost any structure, including houses, and conceal from view entire buildings in unmonitored locations.

How to fight back: Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control. Kudzu can be controlled with glyphosate but it may take several years of follow-up treatments to achieve eradication. Although there are stronger herbicides available, they may not be appropriate for use in the home landscape. Before applying herbicide, sever climbing vines in trees at ground level. If possible, mow or weed-eat ground level patches during the growing season so that root crowns are visible. Allow vines to re-sprout, then spot-spray the ground level foliage at the root crowns with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant in late summer. You can try using a 10% solution or painting the entire node with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable) to see if that will inflict more damage to the large tuber-like root. If mechanical vine control prior to herbicide application is impractical, you can spray the stand with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer, but note that non-target plants may be at higher risk with this method. Monitor sprouting at root crowns each year thereafter and re-treat annually until control is achieved. Persistence is the key. (Source: NC State University)

Asheville Ivy Removal