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Can ivy act as a host to insects that kill other plants?
We rent a house that is covered with ivy. We've notice that each time we put plants outside, they wither and die. The ivy itself is not making contact, and there is a variety of plants that is affected. Our neighbour says it's an insect that lives in the ivy. Any thoughts? Many thanks!



The only insect that comes to mind would be aphids.

What sort of plants are you putting outside?

4 Apr, 2010


Hi, Fractal,

Thanks for your reply.

I put out a large variety of green houseplants to get some sunshine before bringing them back in. They've all died. They all seemed to wither/waste away. Do aphids leave behind black dots and webbing?

I also had my lemon trees attacked by mealy worms and they both died as well.

I have only a few half-dead plants left. These remaining have no visible insects but their leaves are always brown at the tips and then eventually they just collapse at the stem and die. All of them. Every variety.

I am clearly not a gardener, but I've never had every single plant die so constantly!

Sorry for the lack of proper details. I wish I knew names to provide.

Thank you.

4 Apr, 2010


Oops, double post. Sorry.

4 Apr, 2010


The webbing sounds like red spider mite, especially when the name Citrus is mentioned! The black dots (if tiny) could also be them as I know of a Hedera helix 'Buttercup' that is absolutely covered with webbing and tiny black dots. It's inside a greenhouse on a ruined folly which looks great, but not when it looks like it does. It's probably a little unlikely to be red spider mite from your Ivy as it is outdoors and mites prefer greenhouse conditions, especially if the air is dry. They must have come in from another plant brought in.

The aphids that live on Ivy are conspicuous enough to be easily seen as they cluster on the stems, generally near the tips of plants as these are softer and easier to penetrate with their mouth parts for sucking sap. Aphids might attack plants put outside, but you would easily see these so I wouldn't blame the Ivy.

Names of plants (presumably all for inside) may not like being thrust outdoors and depending on the plant, may actually hate being in bright sunshine and just scorch.

4 Apr, 2010


You also don't say what time of year you put the plants out?

4 Apr, 2010


Whitefly is the one that I associate with ivy but you would surely see them on the houseplants.

4 Apr, 2010


Fractal and Bulbaholic, thank you! I've just looked up each of the pests you've described and I've definitely had aphids and whitefly. I'm not sure about the red mites but I'll keep a close eye out this spring and summer.

This is all outdoors, by the way. No greenhouse.

Bulbaholic, it was whitefly that my neighbour mentioned. *groaning* They look like a nightmare to eradicate. I've just noticed baby birds nesting in the ivy, so I don't dare spray the ivy. Even without the chicks, I'd not be so keen to use pesticides. I'm not sure what to do next. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Fractal, thanks for pointing out that the houseplants may not be so keen to be put outside.

I'm learning the difficult and expensive way, so I may be back with more questions another time.

Thanks again for your generosity with your answers. I do hope I can return the favour some day.

4 Apr, 2010


P.S. I've just done some searching and my plants have also definitely had mealybugs. It looks like vegetable oil spray kills the mealybugs and a chrysanthemum based pesticide can help with the whiteflies.

I think I'll be planting marigolds next to my pansies, as I've read these insects dislike strong smelling plants. Also, would lavender help keep pests away?

4 Apr, 2010


No problem JJ. That Chrysanthemum based spray should be fine to use and I'll look forward to your helping me some day. We are all learning after all.

4 Apr, 2010

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