English Ivy – Dying

Q: I have an ongoing issue with my ivy. I have lost more than 1/2 of the ivy in the front yard. We are very frustrated and would like to keep the ivy rather than replace it with something different.

A: There are three common ivy diseases: stem rot is caused by a fungus, Rhizoctonia solani; anthracnose is caused by the fungus Colletotrechum omnivorum and bacterial leaf spot is caused by one of the Xanthomas bacteria.

However, the bottom line to remember is that all three of these diseases are associated with too much water in the soil or on the leaves.

This means that your very first effort should be to stop water from flowing under the ivy and cease any overhead irrigation, if that’s present.

I note in the pictures that the dead area is triangular in shape: the top is narrow and the bottom is broad. This tells me that water is running down the hill, starting at the top of the triangle and carrying the disease downward.

I see gutter downspouts on the house so the first thing to do is to attach plastic pipe to them and direct the water to a different drainage point, not in the ivy. If the spouts are already diverted, the excess water must be coming from the walkway or grassy area at the top of the hill. Use your ingenuity to figure out how to stop the water at its source.

The ivy will slowly recover if it is kept dry. If you want to insure the fastest recovery, scatter a pound of 10-10-10 over 100 square feet of ivy bed and spray the entire area with a copper fungicide/bactericide (click for sources).


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