Ivy alert! It can be a wall killer

Ivy is a beautiful plant that creates mental images of both dignified, established structures and cozy old homes. Think Ivy League Universities on one hand and Hollywood’s idea of a quaint English cottage on the other hand. But ivy can cause big problems and you need to exercise great caution if you are thinking of adding it to your landscape, as I point out to this reader:
QUESTION: “We have some sort of non flowering vine that is growing on our brick building. Will the plant damage the brick & mortar?” – Dawn Borg
ANSWER: Although, a vine (such as ivy) growing on buildings creates an attractive look, it can damage the brick and mortar by hiding insects, including termites, and other sneaky critters, as well as concealing cracks in the brick or mortar and wood rot damage around the doors and windows. The vines gradually work their way into the mortar causing cracks and loosening the bricks. However, usually you cannot see the damage until it is too late because it is hidden by the dense foliage of the vines.
QUESTION: “I have ten Kwanzan Cherry Trees that I planted about two years ago. They have been doing well and now are about 7 to 8 feet tall. Two weeks ago I noticed that two trees have a problem the leaves are turning brown and falling off. The branches are still pliable, right now anyway. Now it is happening to a third tree. The leaves look like they are starting to wilt. What could the problem be? I want to save these trees if possible.” – Carmine Sarno
ANSWER: My first consideration would be the possibility of either over watering or under watering, assuming there is no evidence of root damage from outside forces such as moles.
If your area has had a lot of rainfall, over watering could be the issue. On the other hand, if your area is lacking rainfall, the trees may be stressed. Plants will exhibit the same characteristics whether they are suffering from not enough water or too much water. Also, consider if it is possible that they could have been sprayed accidentally from an herbicide or lawn fertilizer. Hopefully, it is a “water” issue, from which the trees should recover if that problem is not of a long duration.
QUESTION: “I think my Burning Bushes are being eaten by rabbits. Piles of small pellets are around where the bush is disappearing. What can we do to stop it? Will the bushes survive?” – Vicky
ANSWER: Burning Bush plants are a favorite for bunnies and mice. To try to limit rabbits from nibbling on trees and shrubs, you have to work to remove their habitats. They live in areas where they are protected (much like mice) such as grassy fields, rock/stone, wood, and brush piles. As long as they have a place to live, they will be around and they will require food.
To keep them from nibbling on the trunks of the plants, loosely wrap hardware cloth around the trunks extending several inches into the ground, covering back with soil for security. This is about the safest way to handle the problem.
As long as the critters haven’t done extreme damage to the plants, wrapping them should allow them time to heal.
Cheryl and I are getting quite a bit of feedback from readers about the slide show at our Web site www.landsteward.org The slide show – which we add to regularly – features photos of lots of different garden projects along with descriptions so you can understand what you’re looking at. After years of answering readers’ questions we believe you’ll find this a useful (and free) resource when you’re looking for landscape solutions. Go take a look!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
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