Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poison Ivy In the Garden

Besides the unusual weather of the summer, this year also brought an unwelcome visitor to the gardens.

Poison ivy.

The property where Our Little Acre is located was once a woods. It was mostly cleared about 35 years ago, to make the property more structure friendly. Our house was the first built (in 1975), with two others in the years that followed.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is commonly found growing in the woods here, as well as along roadsides and in ditches. So finding it on our property shouldn't really be a surprise, except that prior to this summer, we'd only encountered it a couple of times in the 32 years we've lived here.

Poison ivy growing among the sedum.

This year, we have found it at the base of trees and growing in the garden in at least ten different locations. Twice I found it growing right up through perennials that were just planted last year, such as Veronica 'Royal Candles.' How did it get there?

In almost all cases, the plant was small enough to pull out, but one had gotten a pretty good start, so Romie carefully put Roundup® on its leaves. I put on disposable latex gloves to pull out the smaller ones, then pulled the gloves off over the plants and tied off the wrists for disposal in the trash.

It had been at least a month since I'd found the last little plant, but tonight I found another one in Max's Garden. Since they are popping up randomly, this reinforces why it's a good idea to wear gloves while gardening!

Has anyone else had a problem with poison ivy this year? If so, has it been a new thug you've had to deal with or is it an ongoing nuisance for you? I'm puzzled as to why all of a sudden we've got poison ivy scattered around when we've lived here for so many years without it?


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Hi Kylee, I haven't had some much trouble this year as I did last year. The poison ivy plant produces a flower which then goes to seed. Guess who loves that seed? The birdies. I have a neighbor who was letting hers grow to get good pictures of the flowers and fruits. Please!!
I too am allergic to it, though my husband gets really funny about steering clear of.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Have you always had Catbirds? Many birds eat poison ivy berries then "plant" them around the garden.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kylee, I did a post on this too a few weeks ago. I had it in several places, all around my house, this year. First time in the eight years that we've lived here to encounter it. I wonder why it was so bad this year.

Chiot's Run said...

We have tons since we're surrounded by woods. I try to pull it when it's small, I've read it doesn't contain as many rash producing oils when small. I don't really mind it around though, I'm not allergic and neither is Mr Chiots so we let it ramble in the woods around us. It's quite pretty in the fall when it's bright red!

Gail said...

It's always the plant we grab when weeding without gloves! I've had it two times this year~~not fun. Hope your weekend is filled with desirable plants! gail

Sabrina said...

Funny you should write about this...I had never gotten poison ivy before in my life, and this year I got it on both my arms and legs!

I recalled seeing one plant in one of our beds, and wore gloves to pull it, but the oil must have spread from the gloves to other things I touched. I've since noticed a couple other plants, and I might use your latex technique to deal with it. For now, I'm just washing my gardening gloves and everything I touch with soap and water after I pull poison ivy.

Kerri said...

I know it's in the woods here, but so far I haven't seen it in our gardens, thank heavens.
That's a puzzle as to why it's suddenly showing up in yours.
Be careful out there!

Lona said...

Kylee your posting on poison ivy really hit home with me. I have pulled up little starts of it from all of my beds this year.I have never saw it like this before. I asked my son what was going on with all of the ivy. It is even in my beds in front of the house which is far from the woods in back. It is really strange that you are having the same problem. Thank heavens I am not allergic to it and never get it so I can just pull it up with my bare hands and then wash them real good with soap and water.
I also have that yellow blooming sedum that you have coming up like crazy ;-)

Kylee Baumle said...

Gail ~ Isn't that just the way? So far I've managed to avoid it this year, but last year I had a pretty bad case of it right before Jenna's wedding. Nothing quite like poison ivy itch. UGH!

Sabrina ~ The urushiol can survive a LOT. That's probably what happened. I'm not taking any chances with it. LOL.

Lona ~ So it isn't just me! We just don't know why, after 32 years, it's all over the place!
Yes, the sedum is a pretty fast creeper. I love it though and when it gets out of hand, I just rip it out.

Rose said...

We've had poison ivy, too, but I haven't noticed it getting in the garden yet. But where it has come up, it has really grown. Wherever possible, I use Roundup--this is one time I don't mess around! The theory about birds spreading the seed makes sense.

Speaking of birds, a little one told me this is a special day for you--Happy Birthday, Kylee! Hope your day is filled with lots of blooms and good times.

Pam/Digging said...

I found poison ivy around some our live oaks earlier this summer. But I don't know if that's typical or atypical in this garden because I haven't even been here a year yet.

Kristi said...

argh, that's terrible. Luckily I haven't had this problem.

TC said...

It grows along the back woodlot, far enough from the house that I don't have to worry with it. A couple of years ago while researching an article on it, I discovered it had been strengthening in potency due to climate change. But that reasoning seems to be conjecture to some folks.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Kylee,
One of the many weeds growing in my garden across the street reminds me of your photo of poison ivy. I just bought a book called, The Gardener's Weed Book, Earth-Safe Controls, by Barbara Pleasant. I've just started reading it, but it is very interesting. One of the things she talked about is how most weeds prefer areas that have been turned over or disturbed in some way. Seeds of some weeds can live a long time buried under the ground, then when they are brought to the surface by gardeners, they germinate. I don't know if that's the case with poison ivy. Hey, I just read her section on poison ivy to see what she said about the seeds. I didn't find information about seeds, but she gave other information on getting rid of it, but did say that she makes an exception to what she called her antiherbicide policy for it because the plant is so dangerous. (I almost didn't write the whole title of the book, because I didn't want you to think I was thinking you shouldn't have used a chemical on yours. It was interesting to read what she said about it, though.) I hope you are able to get rid of it.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

By the way, happy birthday to you, too!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It seems to be a good year for Poison Ivy, unfortunately. Over here we do not have it, I'm very, very happy to say.

So Kylee, when it takes over your garden you know what to do, don't you? Just emigrate to the Netherlands and I'll find you a lovely house and garden very close to mine. ;-)

Adrienne Zwart said...

Our yard used to be wooded before we built here 5 years ago. Every year, I find poison ivy plants in different locations. I think it may have more to do with the birds eating the berries, then excreting the seeds.

Kylee Baumle said...

Janet ~ We steer clear of it, too, since both Romie and I are allergic to it. The birds/seeds connection makes sense, it's just that in the 32 years we've lived here, we've never had it like this!

Lisa ~ I would imagine we have always had catbirds. I wasn't really aware of types of birds much until I started gardening.

Robin ~ I'll need to check your post. Yeah, isn't it weird how so many people had trouble with it this year and didn't in the past?

Chiot's Run ~ Yes, it is pretty in the fall, but I can't look at it without itching. LOL.

Kerri ~ We're more careful now than in the past, since we're seeing more of it.

Rose ~ Yes, we use Roundup too, but I'd rather pull it, so if I can find it small, that's what I do. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Rose! :-)

Pam ~ Nasty stuff! Hope you don't find too much more of it!

notsocrafty ~ You're fortunate!

TC ~ Well, about that climate change thing...I'm not on that bandwagon a whole lot in that I think a lot of things are being blamed on it and I don't think many of them are due to it. But that's an interesting possibility!

Sue ~ Now THAT makes the most sense to me. I had even briefly considered that it could be due to digging up the soil in these areas. They were grass for so many years and then we started gardening (2005). I think you may have hit on the cause here!
Thanks for the birthday wishes! :-)

Yolanda Elizabet ~ Hey, I like that idea! I'd love to be your neighbor! :-)

Adrienne ~ Same here, Adrienne. Wear your gloves! ;-)

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