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All gardeners love to see plants blossoming and thriving. It brings us joy and makes us feel that the work has been worthwhile. However, there is one type of plant that most gardeners dread seeing in their yard – poison ivy!
Here’s how to identify Poison Ivy and what to do with it. I’ve got a recipe for home made Poison Ivy Killer below – and you probably already have the ingredients to whip up a batch!
How to Identify Poison Ivy
Many people grew up learning the phrase “leaves of three, leave it be” as a way to identify poison ivy. However, it turns out that many plants (even harmless ones) also have three leaves.
So what’s a better way to properly identify poison ivy?
The three leaves form a pattern
Yes, poison ivy has three leaves. What is important is how they look and where they are. Poison ivy (with the exception of Virginia Creeper and Boxelder) has three leaflets that grow at the end of the stem.
There will be one main leaflet at the end and then two smaller leaflets beneath it on opposite sides of the stalk.
Poison ivy loves to climb, so you can often find it climbing up tree trunks, fences, and walls.
Whereas other plants may grow in a very specific way, poison ivy is more versatile. It can creep up a tree, bunch up as a shrub, sprout as a single plant, or even become a thick, green blanket on the ground.
The vine is hairy
Take a look at the vine. If it’s thick and hairy, it might be poison ivy.
The leaves turn red in fall and dull after rain
Though the leaves are green early in the season, by fall, they will turn red. They may also lose their usual waxy sheen after it rains, becoming dull in appearance.
It has berries
Poison ivy will grow very small berries that look like tiny pumpkins. They can vary in color from white or yellowish to blue-black or dark red, depending on the variety.
Why You Should Get Rid of Poison Ivy
Now, you may wonder why so many people make a big fuss about poison ivy. Admittedly, although it is called poison ivy, not everyone is actually allergic to it.
Some people can touch poison ivy and not be affected at all. However, others can merely be near or brush up against the tiniest leaf and break out in a painful skin rash or blisters.
In extreme cases, a person may even go into anaphylactic shock!
In addition, they may even touch a pet who has rolled around in poison ivy and end up suffering an allergic reaction.
That’s why, even if you aren’t personally allergic to poison ivy, it is a good idea to get rid of it anyway – especially if you have friends, family, or neighbors who may be allergic.
Another reason you should get on top of things when you discover poison ivy is that the vines can grow out of control, climbing up and around trees, homes, and other structures to the point where it can actually cause structural damage.
While it takes time for this to happen, it’s better to just nip it in the bud as soon as possible.
So use this homemade Poison Ivy and weed killer recipe and start getting rid of this weed in your yard today.
A few notes to consider before killing Poison Ivy
Before I give you this homemade poison ivy and weed killer recipe, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The poison ivy plants that are not too old (less than a year old) respond extremely well to this treatment. I highly recommend killing the poison ivy plant as soon as you see it growing.
Plants from older, more established roots will die but may come back a year later. You will have to spray the plants again.
Simply spray the new growth again with the killer. The roots will die of exhaustion because all of their energy will be wasted in putting out all that new growth for nothing.
Some really old roots are made of mutant zombie stuff, and may need a few more repeat doses.
Use straight vinegar (no water added) to make the spray more potent.
This recipe is not JUST for poison ivy. Since the combination basically kills and suffocates plants, it can get rid of many different plants growing in your garden – including weeds and plants you want to keep.
Make sure you ONLY spray it on plants you want to get rid of.
Homemade Poison Ivy and Weed Killer Recipe
3 cups vinegar
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon liquid detergent or soap (I use Dawn) for stick-to-itiveness.
- Mix vinegar and salt until the salt is completely dissolved. Stir in liquid detergent, and pour into a sprayer.
- Spray onto the green growing leaves of the plants.
- Wait a week, then repeat on any survivors. Best time to apply: during a dry spell.
(This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad’s Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT’-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS)
How to Dispose of Poison Ivy Safely
Before I let you get to it, I have a few safety tips on getting rid of poison ivy.
Always use gloves
First of all, always use gloves when handling poison ivy. As I mentioned before, poison ivy can cause a range of allergic reactions, ranging from a skin irritation to anaphylactic shock.
To prevent this, please wear thick gloves when handling poison ivy. Not everyone is allergic, but even if YOU aren’t, you may touch the plant and then contaminate something that will be touched by someone who IS allergic.
Besides, its better not to test whether you’re allergic, right?
Wear protective clothing
In addition to wearing gloves, you should also wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
That way, you can protect the rest of your skin from coming into direct contact with the poison ivy plant.
Bag it Up and Throw it Away
Once the poison ivy plant has died, dig it up as completely as you can (being careful not to let it touch your skin. Try to get as much of the root up as possible so that it can’t grow back.
Place it in a plastic bag, close and tie off the bag, and then dispose of it in the trash.
Wash hands, gloves, and clothing thoroughly
Once you’ve sprayed the poison ivy, be sure to wash your hands, gloves, and clothing thoroughly so that you get rid of any of the oil that makes poison ivy poisonous.
You may need to use some of your spray to clean as the vinegar and degreaser in the detergent can help remove the oil.
Never burn the plant
Many people burn plants to kill them, but you should NEVER burn a plant that you suspect is poison ivy.
This can cause the oil that is in the poison ivy plant to take to the air and be inhaled into people’s lungs.
I hope that this helps you to safely get rid of poison ivy in your garden. Let me know how it works for you in the comments below.
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