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How to Remove Fig Ivy From Brick

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Creeping fig is beautiful, but it can damage brick.

Fig ivy, also known as creeping fig, is often planted against brick home exteriors. When the ivy climbs up the brick, it adds beauty and depth to the wall. But fig ivy is an aggressive grower. As its aerial roots age and thicken, they may penetrate and crack the brick. And their thick foliage may harbor insects and reptiles. If your fig ivy has to go, resist the temptation to pull it from the brick. This will cause more damage. Instead, cut it back, and carefully scrape the clinging roots from the brick.

Prune most of the vines and stems away from the wall. Cut large stems at the base of the plant, using pruning shears. Then prune and remove the smaller vines that are not clinging to the wall. Cut manageable sections one at a time. Do not attempt to pull any vines off the brick. This job will take some time. Do the job over several days if necessary. Compost the cut stems.

Dig up all of the fig ivy's roots. Fig ivy is an aggressive plant that can regrow from small root pieces. If you want to keep the fig ivy, leave the roots and erect a trellis after you remove the tendrils and clean the walls. The fig ivy's new vines will cling to the trellis instead of the wall.

Let the tendrils on the wall dry for three rain-free days.

Put on gardening gloves.

Scrape the aerial roots off the brick with a razor-blade scraper. Scrape at a shallow angle to avoid deeply scratching the brick. You will not remove all traces of the aerial roots, but scrape as much away as you can. Again, depending on the coverage, this may take some time. Do it over several days if necessary.

Scrub the brick clean with soapy water and a nylon-bristle brush.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Razor-blade scraper
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Nylon-bristle brush

Tips

  • Scraping and scrubbing will not remove all traces of the vines. The best way to remove clinging aerial roots is with a propane torch between Steps 5 and 6. Do not burn off the vines if there are any cracks in the brick that expose flammable substrate.
  • Razor blade scrapers can be found at most hardware stores. If you cannot find one, a utility knife will suffice.

About the Author

 

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.