The Q&A Archives: Boston Ivy

Question: I am having a rock fence put in down one side of our property though it is not a high rock fence may be about 4ft. I love the boston ivy and was wondering would I be able to train in to climb sideways down the rock fence?? Also the rock fence will extend to our catalpa tree and I wondered once the ivy reaches the end of the rock fence will it start to climb the catalpa and is that safe for the tree? Thanks, Deborah

Answer: Ivy (and all trailing vines) prefer to grow up and out rather than down, but it may cascade once it gets thick and heavy. If you can, plant it at the base of your rock fence so it can climb up and along rather than down and along. I think you'll be happier with the results. I know that many people encourage ivy to climb the trunks of trees, and it can look quite nice, but the tree's health will eventually suffer. Ivy gets heavy when it's wet and if there's a windstorm, limbs and branches can be broken. Ivy also tends to hold moisture against the bark of a tree; too much moisture can cause decay. It's also a great hiding place for rodents. I'd keep the ivy trimmed so it doesn't climb up the catalpa tree.

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