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Vines on trees

Question: We have Oak trees in our development and some of the home owners planted ivy and have hanging plants from the limbs. Is there any rules
restricting this type of plantings around oak trees in Florida.


Chuck’s Reply:

I know of no rules or ordinances regulating hanging plants and vines in Florida unless some homeowners’ assocation has them in their convenants. But some precautions are in order:

The hanging plants are not much of a problem as long as the method of attachment of the hanging plant to the branch does not damage or girdle the branch.

The climbing vines especially English ivy and others like ficus, Virginia creeper, confederate jasmine, etc. should be controlled if not removed for the following reasons:

1. the climbing vine foliage can increase the wind load on a tree by creating extra leaf surface
2. the vine foliage can cover defects such as included bark, decay, wounds, etc. that an arborist looks for when inspecting a tree
3. old trees do not compete well with other plants and the vines can compete for water and nutrients with a tree. Younger trees can handle the competition but older trees should be given their own space
4. If not kept in check, the vines can overgrow a tree cutting off essential sunlight and smothering the crown. Often people just don’t look up to see that most of the canopy has become vine foliage not tree foliage. The canopy is green so they figure everything is ok.

The worst climbing vine is wisteria which can wrap around the trunk girdling it and actually strangle the tree to death.

For people who insist on climbing vines, I tell them to let the vine grow for the season and then cut it back at ground level in the fall. That way the vine will grow up the trunk in the spring and summer giving the look some people desire. But cutting it back each year will keep it from getting out of control.

Hope that helps.