Experiment: Vinegar, Salt and Poison Ivy

Source:  Experiment: Vinegar, Salt and Poison Ivy    Tag:  a picture of poison ivy
I have never been a huge fan of chemicals. I live on a property with a well and I realize that whatever I dump on the ground stands a possibility of making its way into my water supply and I'm not OK with that. Even if it doesn't make it into the well, I just don't like dumping toxins in my yard.

I am also not a huge fan of spending a lot of money. So, when my dad told me he had a weed killer recipe that was cheap and non-toxic, I was on board to try it out. The recipe is:
  • 1 gallon vinegar (I used white but apple cider vinegar works, too.)
  • 1 cup regular table salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dish detergent (I used Dawn and wound up pouring in more like 2-3 tablespoons)


Mix it all together and spray on weeds.  It should go without saying that it is not selective about what it kills, so be careful when spraying it around plants you want to keep.


So, as luck would have it, I found a patch of poison ivy in a flower bed in my yard last Saturday morning. The birds must have just stood there and pooped for 5 minutes because there sure were a lot of plants coming up. For those who don't know, poison ivy plants are primarily propagated by birds who eat the berries and then poop out the seeds. For some reason, I've had a bumper crop of poison ivy this year. Anyhow, here's the patch:


I decided to experiment with the weed killer on poison ivy. I'm not much into killing, even where plants are concerned, but I don't want this stuff growing in my yard. So, I sprayed half of the poison ivy to see if this week killer worked. Here's the half I sprayed:



The rest of Saturday was cloudy. When I came out in the afternoon, I saw that apparently I did not mix the weed killer too well because there sure was a lot of salt on the leaves.


 I shook things up and re-sprayed a bit more vinegar. I came out on Sunday morning and this is what I found - the plants were starting to die.

It should be noted that this patch of ivy is on the north side of a tree and gets maybe 2 hours of sun a day. I have tried this out on plants that live in full sun and had results within hours. Nevertheless, this was starting to die:


 By Monday night around sundown, it was really looking dead:


By the summer solstice (one week after initial application) the half I sprayed was totally gone.


I'm waiting to see if the half I sprayed re-grows, but I doubt they will since they were too young to really be established. I've seen similar recipes on the net and this site does a good job of explaining why vinegar and salt work: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/2006/05/7-deadly-homemade-weed-killers.html

I've got an ivy plant growing in a pot to see how fast it grows and how long it takes to start producing tendrills, etc.When it comes time to kill it off, I'm going to try this mixture on it, as an established plant, and see what happens.

For now, I'm hitting all of the small poison ivy plants in my yard with this stuff. So far, it seems to work.