How to Kill a Poison Ivy Plant

Eradicate poison ivy right away, before the invasive plant has an opportunity to proliferate. It spreads by growing rhizomatous roots or underground stems and seeds carried throughout the area when birds eat the berries.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron redicans) contains urushiol, a volatile oil that can cause a severe rash on humans. Dogs and cats do not get the rash but, if they have touched the plant, the oil can get on their coats and transfer to anyone who pets them. Poison ivy is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 10.


  • Do not burn poison ivy because the smoke will contain urushiol. If it is inhaled, it will irritate the lungs and can be deadly.

    If the oil of poison ivy gets on unprotected skin swelling and blistering can occur. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if you come in contact with the plant. This keeps the oil contained to one section of the skin and keeps it from spreading to unaffected areas.

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Pulling Single Plants

Pull single poison ivy plants by hand. If the soil is fairly soft, plants will pull up easily. Grasp a plant by the base of the stem and pull it out of the soil with a slow, continuous motion. Place it in a garbage bag right away, seal the bag and put it in the trash. For additional information, see "How to Kill Poison Ivy Naturally."


  • Wear heavy rubber gloves and long-sleeved protective clothing when handling poison ivy. Throw away the rubber gloves and wash the clothing several times to remove the urushiol oil.

Dig poison ivy up with a dirt shovel if the soil is not soft and loose enough to pull the plant by hand. Push the shovel into the soil all the way around the plant 8 to 10 inches away from the base of the stems. Push the shovel into the soil again, 8 to 10 inches away from the stems, and lift the plant, soil and all, with the shovel's tip. Put the plant and soil into a garbage bag, seal it and put it in the trash. Wash the shovel at least twice with hot, soapy water to remove any urushiol oil that may be transferred from the poison ivy.

Killing with Herbicide

Spray poison ivy with an herbicide that contains at least 41 percent glyphosate. The weed killer is absorbed through the leaves, killing the leaves, stems and roots. It is available in ready-to-use spray bottles or concentrate. Spray when there is no wind so the herbicide will not drift to other plants in the yard or a neighbor's plants. Apply herbicide before poison ivy leaves change color in the fall. Do not spray when rain is predicted within a few days.

Herbicide Application

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Eyewear
  • Protective clothing
  • Plastic sheeting or cardboard
  • 41 percent glyphosate herbicide
  • Handheld or hand-pump pressure prayer

Step 1

Don protective gear and clothing.

Step 2

Cover nearby landscape plants with plastic sheeting or cardboard prior to spraying the poison ivy.

Step 3

Mix glyphosate concentrate at the rate of 2.67 ounces per gallon of water.

Step 4

Pour the solution into the sprayer and set the nozzle for a coarse spray.

Step 5

Spray the tops of the leaves until they are wet but not dripping.

Step 6

Spray the poison ivy plant again in one week if it is not wilting.


  • The herbicide can also be painted on the poison ivy foliage by using a disposable rag or paint brush. Thoroughly coat all sides of the leaf surface.


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