The Best Time to Prune Ivy
Ivy can climb walls and other structures up to 30 feet high. Ivy is recognized as an evergreen plant often found trailing the ground or clinging to buildings and fences. The plant grows aggressively given fertile soil, light and enough water. It is often necessary to prune the plant to keep it from taking over an area.
General pruning to shape or reduce the size of a plant, increase branching or control growth can occur year-round. Ivy plants will quickly recover with new growth as soon as conditions of water, nutrients and temperature are favorable. Remember that pruning encourages growth, so regular pruning may be required to control plant growth. It is safe to remove large amounts of plant material. As long as you leave 18 to 24 inches of stem, the stem will branch and regrow.
Pruning to Encourage Growth
Pruning the tips of ivy plants encourages branching and new growth, which is useful when a large area needs covering or bald spots are evident. Late winter or early spring pruning is best to encourage new growth. It is easy to assess the vines while they are dormant and determine where new growth is needed. Branching occurs at the cut tips, and the vines grow vigorously.
Rejuvenating Older Plants
When an ivy plant becomes large and overgrown, it is possible to remove the older vines and rejuvenate the plant with new growth. Severe pruning in the late winter or early spring allows you to see and remove the most aggressive vines and encourage new, controllable growth. Cut stems back to a more manageable size and pull out the excess vines. Leaving at least 18 inches on each healthy vine gives them plenty of encouragement and room to grow.
How to Prune
All ivy varieties are pruned the same way. Using a clean pair of hand pruners or loppers to cut stems about 1/2 inch above a leaf or bud. New growth tips will emerge from the bud or leaf node. Long-handled loppers allow you to reach farther into the plant than you can with pruning shears. They are also best for cutting vines larger than ½ inch in diameter. Once the vine is cut, pull the detached vine free. Always be sure of your target before cutting through the stem to avoid cutting hidden cables along with the vine.