The Q&A Archives: Apple Pear Tree And Vines

Question: I have recently purchased an old farm. There is a very old apple pear tree that is loaded with fruit, however, it is being strangled by several different vines and ivy. I would like to save the tree. What can I do to get rid of the vines. Most of the trunk is covered at least one - two inches thick with vines and many of the tree limbs are totally covered. I've heard that you can use brush killer to kill vines but will this also damage the tree. Also do I need to wait till the fruit is matured before dealing with this situation. I need to be careful because whatever chemicals used may contaminate my well water.

Answer: Instead of using chemicals to kill the vines, begin by cutting through the vines at the base of the tree to kill them, but don't worry about removing them from the trunk or limbs at this time. After they die back they'll become brittle and easy to pull from the tree. Any remnants you can't pull off will eventually weather away. If you can cut back the above-ground vine growth and keep it cut down, the roots will starve and the plants will die. This is a rather labor intensive way of killing the plants, but it will preserve your tree and you won't have to worry about contaminating your well water. The roots of the vines will use up stored energy every time they send up new shoots. If you keep the shoots cut down before they can develop leaves, eventually the roots will use up their stores of energy and will die. Good luck with your apple pear tree!

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