Does Boiling Hot Water Kill Ivy?


Understanding the Effects of Boiling Water on Ivy

When you pour boiling water over ivy, the immediate heat shock can damage the above-ground parts of the plant. However, this method has limited efficacy because the boiling water doesn’t usually reach or destroy the ivy’s robust root system. As a result, the ivy may sprout new shoots after some time.

Key Points About Boiling Water Treatment:

  • Surface Temporality: Boiling water affects only the parts of the ivy it comes into contact with. The leaves and stems may wilt and die, but the roots often survive.
  • Need for Repetition: You will likely need multiple applications to see continued wilting and dieback. This is because ivy is resilient and can recover from above-ground damage.
  • Targeted Approach: It’s essential to apply the hot water directly to the ivy, ensuring that you minimise harm to the surrounding vegetation.

The Mechanism:

  1. Heat Shock: Boiling water denatures the plant’s proteins and dissolves cell membranes, leading to immediate damage.
  2. Partial Control: Only the ivy’s exposed parts are damaged, which may include some surface roots if they’re visible.
  3. Regrowth Potential: Ivy’s deep and extensive root system often remains intact, enabling the plant to regrow.

Use this method with caution, as it can affect nearby plants and could be a temporary solution. Regular monitoring of the treated area is necessary to spot and manage any new ivy growth promptly.

Boiling Water Application Techniques

When utilising boiling water to eradicate ivy, it’s imperative to proceed with caution and employ the correct technique to ensure efficacy and safety. Here’s a structured approach:

  1. Preparation: Don appropriate protective gear including gloves and long sleeves to safeguard against potential burns from the boiling water and irritation from ivy.
  2. Boil Water: Heat a substantial amount of water to a rolling boil. The quantity required depends on the size of the infested area.
  3. Immediate Application:
    • Directly to Roots: Carefully pour the boiling water directly onto the ivy roots, avoiding any surrounding desirable vegetation.
    • Avoid Splash-back: Keep a safe distance to prevent splashing as this can cause burns.
  4. Reapplication Necessity:
    • For larger, established ivy, multiple applications may be necessary as a single treatment may not suffice to completely kill the plant.
  5. Post-application:
    • After the application, wait for the ivy to show signs of withering before removing. Dead ivy is easier to remove and less likely to cause skin irritation.
  6. Environmental Consideration: Use boiling water judiciously, as it will indiscriminately kill plants it comes into contact with, including beneficial ones.

Remember: Boiling water can be effective for small patches of ivy but may not be practical for larger infestations. If your ivy problem is extensive, consider consulting a professional or exploring strong commercial weed killers.

Safety Considerations for Boiling Water Usage

When using boiling water to address ivy problems, maintaining safety is paramount. Boiling water poses a significant burn risk, and you need to handle it with utmost care.

  • Protective Gear: Don your gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection to safeguard against splashes.
  • Secure Containers: Use a kettle with a spout or container with a secure lid to minimise spill risks.
  • Stable Ground: Ensure you’re on stable footing to prevent trips or falls while carrying the hot water.

Pouring Technique:

  • Gradual Approach: Slowly and steadily pour to keep control and avoid splashing.
  • Direct Application: Aim directly at the ivy’s roots to prevent harm to surrounding plants.


  • Immediate Cleanup: If spills occur, clean instantly to avoid slipping hazards.
  • Monitor Area: Post-treatment, observe the space for remaining risks, such as residual hot water.

Considerations for Wildlife and Pets:

  • Keep them at a distance until the area is deemed safe.

Boiling Water Limitations:

  • Be aware that boiling water may not be fully effective against all ivy, and multiple applications could be necessary.
  • It might not reach the deeper roots, requiring additional measures for complete removal.

Use this method in areas where it will not damage desired plants or affect the soil adversely.

Environmental Impact of Using Boiling Water on Ivy

Using boiling water to control ivy in your garden might appear to be an eco-friendly option at first glance. However, it’s important to measure its environmental implications.

Localised Soil Impact: Boiling water can cause immediate damage to microorganisms residing in the soil. These organisms play a crucial role in soil health and nutrient cycling. When you pour boiling water on ivy, you inadvertently affect this delicate ecosystem.

  • Non-Selective Damage: Unlike targeted herbicides, boiling water cannot distinguish between your unwanted ivy and other plants. There is a risk of harming nearby flora that might be beneficial to your garden or local wildlife.

Water Usage: Boiling water requires energy, typically from non-renewable resources. The repeated use of boiling water as an ivy control method increases your carbon footprint.

  • It is essential to consider these factors when deciding on the use of boiling water for ivy removal. Your long-term garden health and broader ecological considerations should inform your decision.

Alternatives to Boiling Water for Ivy Removal

While boiling water is a commonly suggested method to kill ivy, there are other effective alternatives for ivy removal that can be used. Here are some non-chemical methods to consider:

Manual Removal

  • Protect Yourself: Wear gloves, and protective clothing to prevent skin irritation.
  • Cut the Ivy: Sever ivy stems at the base, near ground level, using secateurs.
  • Remove Roots: Pry out the roots with a garden fork, being thorough to prevent regrowth.

Saltwater Solution

  • Prepare Solution: Dissolve 3 pounds of salt in 1 gallon of water.
  • Application: Apply directly to ivy leaves and stems using a garden sprayer.
  • Caution: Avoid contact with other plants, as saltwater can harm them too.

Vinegar Mixture

  • Mix Ingredients: Combine 80% water with 20% white vinegar.
  • Spray Ivy: Use a spray bottle for targeted application on ivy.

Professional Assistance

  • Consider hiring a professional for extensive infestations.

Remember, persistence is key when removing ivy, as it can take several attempts to completely eradicate it due to its vigorous growing nature. Additionally, always respect local regulations when using any method of removal.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to removing ivy, you may have several questions about the methods and their effectiveness. Here are some specific answers to commonly asked questions about boiling hot water and other ivy eradication techniques.

How swiftly does scalding water affect ivy eradication?

Boiling hot water can kill the leaves and upper roots of ivy almost immediately upon contact. However, it may not destroy the deeper roots, and thus, repeated applications might be necessary.

What are effective alternative methods to eliminate ivy without harming adjacent flora?

Mulching over ivy with several layers of cardboard or newspapers, topped with mulch, can smother and eventually kill it without affecting surrounding plants. Manually removing ivy by cutting and digging out the roots is also safe for other plants.

Is vinegar an efficient solution for exterminating poison ivy?

Yes, vinegar, particularly white vinegar with a high acetic acid concentration, can be effective at destroying the leaves of poison ivy, but it may not always kill the roots, necessitating repeat applications for complete eradication.

When is the optimal season to target and destroy poison ivy?

The best time to eradicate poison ivy is during its active growing season, which is typically in the spring to early summer, as the plants are most vulnerable when they are young and actively growing.

Are there any permanent solutions to eradicate ivy thoroughly?

Ivy, especially when well-established, may require persistent efforts to remove entirely. Combining methods such as manual removal, organic deterrents like salt or vinegar, and appropriate herbicides can offer a more permanent solution when applied consistently and correctly.

Can household bleach serve as an effective poison ivy killer?

Household bleach can damage poison ivy plants on contact, but it is not recommended as it can be hazardous to the environment and other plants. Moreover, bleach does not ensure a permanent solution, as ivy may regrow from the surviving roots.

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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