If you have poison ivy in your yard, fall is a good time to eradicate it. The leaves of poison ivy change from green to a bright orange or scarlet in the fall, which can make it easier to spot and destroy. The plants are also more vulnerable to herbicide treatment at this time of year, when cooler weather prompts them to send nutrients to the roots.
Poison ivy is a woody perennial that may grow into a small shrub in full sunlight, but typically is found as a ground cover or tree–climbing vine in shade. The stems can grow to 8 feet or longer and up to 5 inches in diameter. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Leaves of three, let it be.” Poison ivy leaves have three leaflets 2 to 4 inches long. Leaf edges can be toothed, smooth, or lobed – and one plant may have all three variations. Clusters of greenish–white berries appear on poison ivy plants in late summer and remain through the winter.
Do not handle poison ivy without gloves and other body protection. An oil present in all parts of poison ivy plants causes skin irritations. The poisoning can occur at any time during the year, from contact with live or dead plants. The irritations can develop from direct contact with the plant or from contaminated tools, clothing, or smoke from burning plants. (Do not burn poison ivy cuttings!)
The safest and surest method of eradicating poison ivy is to spray the leaves thoroughly with poison ivy killer. Available in concentrate or ready-to-use form, this product kills poison ivy, poison oak, kudzu, wild blackberries, and other woody weeds and vines right down to the roots. The vigorous roots can be hard to kill, so a second treatment may be necessary if new growth appears after a couple of weeks.
Finding and spraying poison ivy this fall will help curtail its spread next year.