The Q&A Archives: English Ivy on trees

Question: If English Ivy is allowed to grow to a height of 5 or 6 feet on a large Catalpa tree, will there be any threat to the life of the tree?

Answer: English Ivy often climbs up the nearest support, whether it's a wall, the side of a house, a utility pole or a tree. Most people are concerned that ivy will strangle or girdle a tree; that's not usually the case and shouldn't cause undo worry. However, ivy clings by means of little pads on the ends of tendrils. The pads can get into cracks in the bark of trees and enlarge them, allowing for insect and disease entry. Ivy will also hold excess moisture against the bark of the tree, and gets quite heavy when it's wet, which may stress the tree. If you can keep the ivy controlled, and allow it to grow partway up the trunk of your tree, it will add a decorative touch to your landscape.

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