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How to deal with poison ivy

LSU AgCenter

I recently came across some poison ivy as I was working in an out of the way part of my landscape.

Poison ivy is abundant in the summer time in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. I keep an eye out for this plant, as I'm quite allergic to it. And I promptly and ruthlessly deal with any poison ivy as soon as I see it.

First, to deal with poison ivy, you have to be able to recognize it. It's typically a tall, climbing vine. It drops its leaves in the winter. Look for it along fences and along the base of trees.

But don't forget that seedlings can be found in garden beds and seedlings won't have taken on the vining characteristic yet and may actually look bushy.

Poison ivy is also one of the few plants you'll encounter in nature that has a three-leaflet leaf. If it has leaves and it's not "leaves of three," it's not poison ivy.

Controlling poison ivy is one of the most important things to do. Check the landscape regularly. Be persistent over time. You can't ever eradicate it.

Methods include physically digging it out, but this can be risky if you're allergic. A second method is herbicide. A third method, if you can't spray, is to cut the vine above the surface and paint the stem with a herbicide.

Dan is an Associate Professor in Consumer Horticulture with the LSU AgCenter. He is the spokesperson for the LSU AgCenter’s "Get It Growing project," an effort encouraging home horticulture throughout Louisiana. Dan is also author of "Month-by-Month Gardening in Louisiana" and co-author of the "Louisiana Gardener’s Guide."