The Virginia Creeper is a deciduous plant that often turns into a nuisance for many gardeners. The plant itself has compound leaves, each with five toothlets.
Through the use of disk-tipped tendrils, the plant is able to climb on different surfaces. While it definitely looks ornamental in some situations, you should know that the plant can turn into a nuisance very quickly.
The plant itself is incredibly useful for wildlife. An array of different birds and animals tend to feed on the fruit produced by the plant.
Animals such as chipmunks, squirrels, mice, and even deer also feed on the fruit. The stem and leaves are also prime targets for herbivores.
On top of that, the thick foliage provided by the plant proves to be ample cover for wildlife. Now, with so many different qualities, why do so many people hate it? Why do many gardeners consider it a nuisance?
Well, while the berries are great for animals, you should know that they are toxic to humans and can prove to be fatal.
The sap from the plant contains oxalate acid. This acid is often irritating when it comes into direct contact with the skin. The biggest problem with this plant is that it tends to grow in places where it is definitely not wanted.
As it covers any plant or any shrub, it’s going to cover the surface completely. Ultimately, the plant will stop receiving sunlight over time.
Eventually, the plant is going to choke and die as a result. If you have plants that are located close to each other, it’s also capable of “creeping” from one to another. For example, a gorgeous cluster of lilac bushes can die within a couple of years if they fall prey to the Virginia Creeper.
The bigger problem is that once the vine establishes itself, it’s very difficult to remove. If the plant is young, you can pull it off by hand. But, once it grows, getting rid of the plant is not going to be this easy.
As mentioned above, the sap contains oxalate acid, so the more you touch the plant, the more problems it’s going to cause for you.
That is why you need to follow a series of steps to get rid of this plant. Here is a brief guide for getting rid of the Virginia Creeper.
1 – Wear a Pair of Chemical-Resistant Gloves
Your average set of latex gloves aren’t really useful in this regard. You need to buy a pair of chemical-resistant gloves which aren’t going to allow the acid to pass through when you are handling the plant.
On top of that, you need to protect your face as well. A set of safety glasses is great and will protect your skin and eyes.
You will be using an herbicide here, so it’s important that you put on a mask as well, if you have one.
2 – Untangling the Plant
The first step is to unravel and untangle the plant, especially if it is entangled with the plants that you want to save. While you untangle the plants, try to keep the weedy vine as intact as possible.
Be very careful and meticulous when unraveling the vine, because it’s not particularly strong in itself.
3 – Follow the Vine
Then, you need to follow the vine all the way to the ground level, and slowly stretch it out. Make sure you do not remove the roots of the soil while you do this. Just place the vine on the ground surface.
Another thing that you can do is lay out a sheet of plastic nearby, and then place the vine on it. If you have grass on the surface, this will protect it from dying when you use the herbicide.
4 – Using the Herbicide
An herbicide that contains glyphosate is the best choice in these situations. When you go to buy any herbicide, make sure you look at the set of ingredients. Just spray the foliage completely with the herbicide.
Also, before you get to work, it’s best to look at the application instructions at the back. Different kinds of herbicides come with different application instructions, so you have to be careful.
Some concentrated herbicides must be diluted before applications, while others can be sprayed directly.
5 – Cut the Creeper
Then, you need to cut the plant at the soil level. To do this, you need to make use of a pair of pruning shears and remove it completely from the soil.
Do not let it remain on the property. Put the vine in a plastic bag and get rid of it whenever you can.
6 – Finishing Touches
Take a clean paint brush, and dip it in the herbicide that you used earlier. Once you have removed the vine, you need to paint the stem with the herbicide at the point where you removed it.
You need to be careful so as not to put the herbicide on other plants that you want to keep in your house.
7 – Keep an Eye Out
Always keep an eye out for signs of regular growth in your garden or your backyard. The Virginia Creeper is pretty resilient and has a tendency to come back.
You might notice a bit of new growth from time to time, but as long as you get rid of it quickly, you won’t face many issues.
Then, within a few months, you will notice that the Creeper will stop growing altogether within the area. A lot of people tend to get frustrated with the Virginia Creeper, but as long as you are careful and remove the plant properly, you won’t have to deal with it again.
Many people tend to simply pull the vine out. That could also cause extensive damage to other plants in your garden, especially those that the vine has covered already. You don’t want that to happen.
Moreover, do not spray the herbicide directly on the wrapped vine, as that could cause more damage to the other plants in your garden. Always keep it in a separate place before using the herbicide.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.