Experts and BHG readers answer.
How do I save my Holly Bushes from poison ivy?
I have two rows of holly bushes (3 in each row) that are about 15 years old. They flank the front entrance of our house which is very shady. They've been very healthy until last year. The middle bush in one row began to brown and we found poison ivy growing in it. Now the opposite side looks the same. Do we have to remove the entire row or can we remove and replace only the middle bush? Do we need to treat the soil to prevent the poison ivy from regrowing? How do we do this?
There may be several things going on at the same time here. Poison ivy growing in your holly tree shouldn't be causing browning and death unless it is so thick that the leaves of the poison ivy are shading out the holly. The poison ivy likely started there from seeds spread by birds roosting in the holly.
It will be difficult to remove the poison ivy without damaging the holly, because any herbicides that kill poison ivy would also kill the holly. (Brush killers can be used to kill the poison ivy.) If you cut out the poison ivy, it will just grow back. However, short of removing the affected hollies and poison ivy vines, cutting back the poison ivy repeatedly may be a means of reducing the competition from the poison ivy.