Green Circle Growers Blog

Watch Out for Poison Ivy in Garden

Green Circle Growers - Monday, July 11, 2011

An enjoyable day of gardening can turn nasty if you encounter poison ivy while weeding between the Gerbera Daisies (Gerbera) and Petunias or behind the Hydrangeas. Poison ivy’s blistering rash may not erupt until the next day, but by then the damage is done and you’ll be in for a miserable week or two of intense itching. The best way to avoid the misery that poison ivy brings is to know what this poisonous plant looks like and how to safely remove it from your garden.

Poison ivy grows from southern Canada to northern Mexico and across the breadth of the United States. Commonly found at the border between woods and meadows and in scrub growth along highways, poison ivy is equally prolific in weed-lined city alleys and is a frequent garden invader. An attractive plant, poison ivy can take many forms. In the garden, it is most often encountered as single plants or a woody vine. If not promptly removed, it can multiply into thick, knee-high ground cover. Vines may wind through shrubbery or grow up the sides of trees or homes, their brown, hair-like aerial roots digging into bark and masonry. This insidious plant can also take the form of a sparse shrub or skinny tree, sometimes growing to a height of 10 feet.

Poison ivy is identified by its trifoliate leaf pattern. A single, tear-drop shaped leaf extends from the end of the leaf stalk. Slightly below it grow two leaves on very short stalks that are directly opposite each other. These two oppositional leaves have a vague mitten shape with a thumb-like lobe protruding slightly from one side. Poison ivy leaves turn a brilliant red in early fall when their berries attract birds.

Next time: How to protect yourself from poison ivy

Photo by: wallygrom