Creeping Charlie Ground Ivy

Creeping Charlie / Ground Ivy

Creeping Charlie is a perennial that can be difficult to control. It generally stays low to the ground and puts out shoots or stems along the ground which root at spots along the vine or stem. It will sometimes go up if it has something to support it. It is evergreen and considering that it is in the mint family, it is not surprising that when crushed it smells somewhat minty.

If you are into brewing beer, you might want to encourage its growth. The ancient Saxons used to to brew beer. It is European and was brought to North America for medicinal reasons and is now found in almost the entire United States.

The stems are squarish and the leaves are round and scalloped. It gets into grass in shaded areas, preferrably moist and then expands to sunny areas. It is also happy in flower beds and can become a quite dense mat. It spreads in two ways, rhizomes and seeds.

The vines have nodes which is where the leaves grow from. If the node touches the ground, it will sprout roots. If you then pull the vine and it breaks and leaves those roots in the ground, it just starts growing a new plant.

Controlling / Killing Ground Ivy

To control it, use a broadleaf herbicide. The University of Maryland Extension program suggests one with several active ingredients. Particularly look for the ingredient triclopyr which is supposed to be more effective.  They say that two applications are usually necessary and that they should be done 14 days apart.

Another website says that the only effective herbicides for Creeping Charlie are ones that have dicamba. Apparently even this herbicide is only effective if done at the right time of the year. If you apply in late spring or summer, it will only stall its growth and not kill it. They recommend treating it in early fall when it is growing most actively. The idea is that it will weaken the Creeping Charlie enough that the winter weather will finish it off.

Here is the prescription for when you do do this. Cut the grass and wait three days. This will cause the ground ivy to put out more leaves and take up more of the herbicide. Once you have treated it, wait another 3 days before cutting the grass again.

In flower beds you can get rid of it by hand pulling (best after rain or watering). Or you can smother it which can be done with newspaper or mulch or both.

Good luck!

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