How Do I Rescue My Ivy?
Q: "Can winter-tormented ivy be revived?"
The ivy that covers the big steep hill in back of our house took a real beating last winter. Is there a way to resuscitate it?
—Frank Rothwell, Framingham, Mass.
Roger Cook replies: I never thought anything could kill ivy until I had the same problem at my house. In my case, some of the ivy eventually resprouted. When it did, I hit it with a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer for an extra boost. It's coming back, but now I baby it through the winter with a covering of salt marsh hay; a layer of leaves will do the same thing. You could also spray the ivy with an antidessicant such as Wilt-Pruf to keep the leaves from getting winter burn.
If your plants don't recover in the spring, buy some bare-root ivy and just plant it among the dead stuff; there's no point in making extra work for yourself. Just cut or push aside the dead ivy and use a hand trowel or small shovel to dig small holes for the new plants. Add compost and fertilizer, mix it in with the soil, and add the new ivy.