Glyphosate for English Ivy and Japanese Privet

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We have had an extremely mild winter so far, with several days in January reaching into the mid-70s. These warm days offer up the perfect opportunity to get out in the yard and get some much-needed work done, including weed control.

A question I’ve had recently is how to tackle the one-two punch of English Ivy and Japanese Privet, two plants that are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Fortunately, glyphosate, also known as Roundup or Touchdown, can work for both of these. For both plants, you are likely to need multiple applications over several years, in combination with hand pulling, to fully eradicate them.

When choosing a glyphosate formulation, avoid products that contain less than 41%, as this is the sweet spot for controlling these difficult weeds. It is best used when air temperatures are in the mid-60s to mid-80s. Any cooler or warmer and the deadly effects may slow down. Use roughly 5 ounces of product per 1 gallon of water + glyphosate solution. For English ivy, apply when there are 2-4 new leaves on the vines as these new leaves are soft and vulnerable to the glyphosate. Older foliage is difficult to effectively reach, so wait for about 6 weeks and apply to a second flush of new growth if you have it. For Japanese privet, you can cut the shrub close to the ground and paint the stump with the glyphosate and water solution.

Glyphosate is systemic, meaning it moves throughout the plant once it comes into contact with it. Take care to completely cover whatever plant you are aiming to kill. As glyphosate is also a nonselective, meaning it will kill anything it comes into contact with, avoid spraying or painting plants you want to keep. In North Carolina, the label is law, so always read the label and follow the instructions for personal safety. If you have any questions about herbicide usage, glyphosate usage, or difficulty understanding a pesticide label, contact your local extension office for more information.

Selena McKoy is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Harnett County.