How To Kill Ivy And Identify Poison Ivy

When you see ivy growing on your trees or your house, it can be quite frustrating. It could be harmful ivy and it could be just another plant. No matter what kind it is, unwanted ivy is annoying. So you probably want to know how to kill ivy

how to kill ivy

Before learning how to kill ivy, it’s important to learn the different kinds of ivy. We’ll also go over how to treat ivy rashes later so make sure you learn that first aid info as it could save you, or a loved one, from a lot of pain and suffering. 

Allergies: poison ivy usually only affects those who are allergic, but it’s good to know how to treat those with rashes. Anyone can develop an allergy at any point in time, especially when going through a hormonal change. 

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Types Of Ivy

When you hear the word “ivy” you may imagine a harmful plant creeping up the side of your house. But not all ivy is dangerous. Some ivy is even kept as a house plant. Learn the differences in types of ivy so you can stay safe. 

Most ivy is completely harmless, and there are more types of ivy than one can count. however, there are only a few types that remain dominant in most parts of the world. Here are the most common types of ivy. 

English Ivy

Size: Up to 100 feet

Shape: Glossy, three-prong leaves of average size

English ivy is also known as common ivy and it is often found in North America. It can become a green blanket over the ground, trees, or buildings. It is a great houseplant that can filter toxins out of the air.

Most ivy in the United States is English ivy or a relative to English ivy. It is harmless, but annoying, though it’s a great house plant. Find other house plants that are also beneficial to your home and your health. 

Persian Ivy

Size: Up to 40 feet

Shape: Large, teardrop leaves that yellow on the edges

Persian ivy isn’t dangerous, but because it has the largest leaf of any other ivy, it can become a problem. If left untreated, it can take over forests and yards in no time. The hardy ivy knows no bounds. 

Irish Ivy

Size: Up to 100 feet

Shape: Three-prong while growing, five-prong when fully grown 

Irish ivy is a European plant that looks a lot like English ivy. Though the leaves are safe, Irish ivy can produce flowers that produce black berries. These are not to be confused with blackberries, because Irish ivy berries are poisonous to humans. 

Japanese Ivy

Size: Up to 30 feet

Shape: Curled leaves with purple tints

Japanese ivy is native to East Asia. It is easily recognized due to the purple edges of the leaves and vines. This color isn’t always present and sometimes appears red rather than purple. Japanese ivy also produces berries. 

Russian Ivy

Size: Up to 100 feet

Shape: Light green, small leaves

Russian ivy is native to Russia, Armenia, and Iran, and is sometimes referred to as Iranian Ivy. Russian ivy also doesn’t grow up the sides of trees and buildings. It grows freely like other plants and doesn’t latch on.

Nepalese Ivy

Size: Up to 100 feet

Shape: Classic ivy shape with contrasting veins

Nepalese ivy can be found in Nepal, Vietnam, India, China, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. The leaves of a Nepalese ivy are thick and leathery. They have light veins and dark leaves, offering an attractive contrast.

Canarian Ivy

Size: Up to 100 feet

Shape: Light green leaves with classic shape

The name Canarian ivy comes from the fact that Canarian ivy is native to the Canary Islands. Though it can be found in other places now. This ivy is very similar to English ivy in all ways and can be treated the same for the most part. 

Boston Ivy

Size: Up to 50 feet

Shape: Red or green with three prominent prongs

Boston ivy is actually part of the grape family, though it’s often called ivy anyway. It is part of the grape family because it produces green flowers which produce grapes. These grapes are poisonous to humans. 

Poison Ivy

Size: Up to 50 feet

Shape: Three separate leaves attached to one vine

Poison ivy is easy to recognize because rather than one leaf, it consists of three separate leaves for each “leaf” section. It is medium to light green and is the only ivy that is poisonous just to touch. So learn to spot it!

Poison ivy doesn’t look much like any other plant except poison oak, which is also harmful. So both should be avoided. Read on to learn more about the difference between poison ivy and poison oak later. 

How To Kill Poison Ivy Without Herbicides 

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If you’re like most people, you prefer to live life with as few chemicals as possible. So killing poison ivy without herbicides is ideal. Luckily, most infestations can be taken are of with nothing but your gloved hands. 

Poison ivy can grow fast but if you eradicate it, there’s a good chance it won’t come back. At least for a few years. But that’s easy to keep up with. Here are the steps you can take to rid yourself of poison ivy once and for all. 

Protecting Yourself

This may be the most important step in removing poison ivy. Make sure that you wear gardening gloves to protect yourself from infection. But don’t stop there, wearing a mask and goggles can prevent the inhaling of toxicity from the plant. 

Also, make sure to cover your arms and legs. Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals either. Cover as much skin as possible. Turn your clothes inside out when you finish and wash them with no other clothes, adding a disinfectant to the load.  

Getting Rid Of The Source

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to get to work. Start by cutting the vines from the surface. Make sure you remove anything that it’s hanging onto as well. Use a small hatchet if possible or something similar. 

If a hatchet isn’t available, you can use your hands to pull them away. This is why thick gloves are so important. Medical gloves aren’t ideal as they can snag and this defeats the purpose. Scrape the excess vine away with a shape object. 

Clearing The Roots

After the vines have been removed, it’s time to work on the roots. Pull the roots out of the ground, making sure to dig them up good. You can replace any soil you tear up with potting soil and grass seed to cover it.

Disposing Of Poison Ivy

Make sure to keep a black trash bag nearby to dispose of the vines, roots, and leaves as you go. Whenever you’re done, you should also turn your gloves inside out and put them in the trash bag as well. 

How To Kill Poison Ivy With Herbicides 

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Although it’s not ideal, sometimes you need to use herbicides to get rid of stubborn poison ivy. You can buy the herbicide at most grocery stores or order it online. There aren’t any home remedies that work as well as an herbicide. 

Spray With Herbicide

The first thing you want to do is spray the leaves and vines. Follow the directions on the herbicide, taking any precautions necessary. You will likely have to spray and then leave them to soak for a few minutes. 

Pull Vines Away

After the leaves yellow, the vines should pull away fairly easily. So pull them all off, being careful not to leave any stragglers that can act as a new base or foothold. If the ivy doesn’t have anything to hold onto, it won’t grow. 

Spray Roots

After your path is clear, you can spray the roots. Spray where they are growing, but try not to spray any plant that you want to live. The roots won’t need pulled up of theherbicide kills them, but it doesn’t hurt to pull out what you can.  

Poison Ivy Vs. Poison Oak

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Most people can’t tell the difference between poison ivy and poison oak. Though poison ivy is part of the poison oak family, the two are often considered separate plants. Here’s how to tell the difference. 


Poison ivy always has three leaves. The edge of each green leave is serrated. Poison oak has a hairy texture and smoother edges. The serrated edge of poison oak has larger grooves and is shaped like the leaves of an oak tree. 


Poison oak and poison ivy have similar rashes and both can be treated the same way. While going to a doctor is recommended, there are at-home treatments that can work if going out isn’t ideal at the time. 

The best thing you can do for a rash of this type is to apply cortisone cream or ointment (Cortizone 10) for a few days. This clears up the rash for most people. You can also take allergy medicine like Benadryl or Claritin, which most people keep on hand. 

If your trash gets worse after trying these treatments, call a doctor. Untreated severe allergic reactions can cause you to go into anaphylactic shock. Always call the doctor if the rash is on your face or neck area.