The Q&A Archives: Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy

Question: What is the best way to get rid of Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy?

Answer: There are three methods that can be effective in eradicating poison ivy and Virginia Creeper. They include hand pulling or grubbing; severing the vine and then treating the regrowth with an herbicide; or applying an herbicide to individual leaflets.

Hand pulling is most successful when the soil is moist. The roots can be dug and pulled out in long pieces. Care should be taken to remove the entire root because the plant can resprout from sections of root left in the ground. Avoid skin contact by wearing gloves while you work and washing clothing and gloves immediately after. The washing machine should be rinsed thoroughly afterward to eliminate the possibility of contaminating other clothing.

Vines growing on trees can be difficult to pull out of the ground because their roots may be entangled with the tree's roots. Sever the vine at the base and carefully pull it out of the tree. Glyphosate (eg., Roundup or Ortho's Kleeraway Grass & Weed Killer), a non-selective, translocated herbicide, can be applied to the new shoots that will soon emerge from the base of the old plant. This herbicide is most effective if applied to actively growing foliage two weeks on either side of full bloom, in early summer.

Another herbicide that may be used is triclopyr (eg., Ortho's Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy Killer). Poison ivy is difficult to control even with herbicides. Neither glyphosate nor triclopyr will provide complete control from a single application, and repeat applications to treat regrowth may be necessary. Other herbicide brands or formulations may be found at your local garden center. Be sure to read the label to ensure that poison ivy is listed on the label, then follow the manufacturer's directions.

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