Question of the Week Number 1: March 14, 2019

“Does ivy growing up a tree’s trunk hurt the tree? Can it harm bricks or stone on a house?”

Many people are concerned that ivies such as English ivy growing up the trunks of their trees may suck nutrients or moisture away from the trees. In reality, they do not.

Persian ivy ascends pecan trunks without doing damage in the Sperry backyard.

But there are still two ways that vines growing up a tree can do harm.

1. If the vine is evergreen, and if it grows out along the tree’s branches, it can collect ice during winter storms. That can add to the weight on those branches so that trees with brittle wood such as pecans can suffer broken limbs that might not occur otherwise.

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2. Some vines grow luxuriantly enough that they can form canopies out and over the tops of trees. English ivy can do that with small and mid-sized trees and Virginia creeper and poison ivy, among others, can do it with even tall trees. That should never be allowed to happen.

But otherwise, vines growing on the trunk of a tree spell no cause for concern.

Boston ivy climbs the brick south wall of the Sperry house. It’s important to prevent the vines from producing their “hold-fasts” into window screens. Take it from the voice of experience.

As for vines on your house, they do not damage brick, stone or mortar. However, they can trap moisture, dirt and debris that leave ugly stains. And you don’t want them to send their rooting structures into window screens, soffit vents or siding.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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