How to Kill a Poison Ivy Plant


Poison ivy, as well as its relatives, poison sumac and poison oak, causes dermatitis in approximately 70 percent of the population after casual contact, according to the University of Connecticut Extension Office. Poison ivy, a vine that runs along the ground or up trees and shrubs, is very hardy, but there are several method of disposing of it. Each method has advantages, and you may choose to use a combination of the three.

Dig Poison Ivy

Step 1

Dig at a time when the soil is wet. Dry soil makes it difficult to remove all of the root pieces.

Step 2

Remove the small pieces of roots with the blade of a shovel.

Step 3

Dispose of the poison ivy in a trash bag. Burning can release the skin irritants into the air. Composting may contaminate your compost pile with a new generation of poison ivy.

Cut Poison Ivy

Step 1

Cut the poison ivy down to ground level with a pair of gardening clippers. The leaves provide nutrients for the plant, and cutting them to the ground will eventually starve the plant.

Step 2

Snip off any new growth every few weeks. Remove any new growth as soon as possible so the plant will starve.

Step 3

Spray your gardening clippers off with the water hose after use. Scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and soapy water to remove any traces of poison ivy oil.

Apply Chemicals

Step 1

Purchase an herbicide that is effective against poison ivy. Look for the active ingredients glyphosate, triclopyr, amitrole or 2, 4-D.

Step 2

Spray the herbicide carefully; overspray that touches other plants will probably kill them.

Step 3

Repeat the process. It generally takes two to three applications to kill poison ivy. For best results, spray chemicals in the late summer to early fall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use a tiller to turn the soil in an effort to kill the poison ivy. The tiller will slice the roots into many small pieces. Each of these small pieces can develop into another vine.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Trash bag
  • Gardening clippers
  • Herbicide


  • Michigan State University: Poison Ivy Control
  • University of Connecticut: Poison Ivy

Who Can Help

  • University of Oklahoma: Poison Ivy
Keywords: poison ivy control, killing poison ivy, removing poison ivy

About this Author

Amy Hunter has been a writer for 12 years. She typically writes about health and lifestyle issues, and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in Sacramento Parent, ASPCA's Animal Watch and other print and online publications.