Lesser Celandine

Another invasive weed that is difficult to control is Lesser Celandine. It is native to Europe and West Asia and is in the buttercup family. Wish they had kept it to themselves. It does have a pretty little yellow flower, but it gets into everything.

Due to the fact that people used it to treat hemorrhoids, it used to be known as pilewort. In German, the word for it translates as Scurvyherb because the leaves are high in vitamin C and it was used to treat scurvy.

The good thing about it is that it comes out early and dies back early. You might have a chance of eradicating it when you first get it if you are diligent about weeding. But once it gets a foot hold, it is almost impossible to get rid of. When weeding, make sure to get as many of the underground tubers as possible. Also, get to it before it dries up and drops its seeds.

Lesser celandine likes wet areas but will do fine in drier areas. You can almost forget about getting it out of wet areas but there is a chance in drier areas. Test the pH of the lawn or the garden bed. If it is low, spread ash, and put a heavier load on the areas with lesser celandine.

There are also natural broadleaf herbicides that has iron as its main ingredient and works well on celandine. One is named IronX.

Also, because lesser celandine loves water, don’t overwater. Another thing you can do is to put down Preen early in the spring. That will help prevent the tubers from the prior year from sprouting and coming up again. It won’t be perfect but should improve things year to year, until eventually you should have it under control if not completely removed.

 

 

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Morning Glory – Bindweed

There are two plants that look very much alike, morning glory and bindweed. Bindweed, as the name implies, is a weed. Morning glory is considered by some to be a beautiful plant that is worth propagating. To others it is a weed to be gotten rid of.

Morning Glory

If the flower is a beautiful blue in the morning when it opens, turns purple in the middle of the day, and shrivels up and dies at the end of the day, it is definitely morning glory. This is an annual. In northern climates it is fairly easily controlled. It does produce a lot of seeds, so it can become a problem. Further south where you are less likely to get a freeze in the winter, it can become perennial instead of an annual and much more of a problem to control.

If the blooms are white or pinkish, it is possible that it is a variety of morning glory, but much more likely that it is bindweed.

To control morning glory, you need to control the seeds because they can be prolific. If you spread something to prevent germination, that should do the trick to a large extent. In the north, a cold winter should kill the seeds and you would need to reseed anyway. So Preen or corn gluten meal should stop the seeds from germinating.

You can also weed them if you get them early. They shouldn’t be too much trouble to pull out.

Bindweed

This is a different beast. It is more difficult to eradicate and should be attacked as soon as it appears. Although, the flowers are pretty, have a pleasant fragrance, and attract beneficial insects. On the otherhand there is a reason for its name and it can bind and overwhelm other plants.

Don’t bother trying to weed it out. It has deep roots and rhizomes which snake quite a distance underground. If you break off a root and any part of the root remains, it will grow back.

It has a white, sometimes pinkish flower. The leaves and flower look very much like a morning glory except for the color. (Some varieties of morning glory are white, but rarely.)

This is a plant that you definitely do not want going to seed. Even so, because the seeds can last 30 years in the soil, (tough little buggers) you absolutely want to use some form of chemical to prevent germination. As mentioned above, that may be Preen or something natural like corn gluten meal.

You can try Roundup or high strength vinegar solutions. But  there is another solution which is effective but requires some persistence. You can starve it. Sounds odd, since you would think it could get nutrients from the ground. But, if you cut it off at ground level as soon as it comes up, and keep doing that each time it does it, it won’t be able to synthesize and will eventually die, essentially from starvation.

 

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Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium

This is an obnoxious plant. It is a relative of the ornamental geranium but is the sibling that misbehaves. Once you get it in the garden, it is very difficult to get rid of.

It is also known as Carolina Geranium and as cransesbill and officially as Geranium carolinianum. The leaves are kind of pretty, but they intend to invariably grow where you don’t want them. Frequently right next to things you do want.

If you can, pull the new ones before they get established in the spring. The reason is that more established plants put our runners or long tuberous roots that can go for two feet or more.

Also, deadhead them so they don’t put out a lot of new seeds for the following year.

Even weedkillers like roundup don’t seem to do much. It may kill the plant on the surface, but unlike so many where it kills the roots as well, it doesn’t seem to get far in the tuberous roots and the plant  just pops back up someplace else. One person suggested several treatments in a row of Roundup.

Apparently the plant is an annual, so the plants in the spring are from seeds and not coming back from the prior year. I have also seen that it is a biennial where it grows one year and the next flowers, goes to seed  and dies.

If that is true, then even though it puts out the tuberous roots, they should die off, so if you are diligent over a period of two years, you should have the problem licked.

Putting down something like Preen to prevent germination of seeds should be a major help in controlling the weed. If you want to try a more natural way, corn gluten meal spread over the ground should also do the trick.

It is important to keep up with the treatments because the seed has hard membrane which can survive a long dormancy in the ground.

Photo by Richard Old www.xidservices.com

Photo by Richard Old
www.xidservices.com

 

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Weeds with Shooting Seeds

Hairy Bittercress

Bane of my existence. At least one of them when it comes to gardening. This one is called Hairy Bittercress or Shotweed. Formally, Cardamine hirsuta.

I have a love hate relationship with them. Why love? Well, I was a biology major and I am really impressed by their evolutionary adaptation. They start growing in the spring. They have a little tuft or rosette of leaves near the ground and then a stalk shoots up and they have little white flowers.

So far, so good. The problem is when the flowers go to seed. They have little seed pods with a number of seeds in each one. Even that is not too bad. But, when they have matured enough, some sort of trigger mechanism is created. When you touch them or try to pull them, the seed pods shoot with some force and can go as far as 10 feet without wind. It is helpful to wear glasses, be careful of them shooting in your eye.

Very impressive way to survive and propogate. If a person or animal tries to eat them or pull them as weeds, the seed pods get away as little survival capsules before destruction of the plant.

Why do I hate them? Because they are worse than rabbits, they spread like crazy.

How to combat them

They are actually fairly easy to pull since the roots don’t seem to go very deep. Also, since they grow in spring, the soil tends to be moist which also makes it easier. If the soil isn’t wet, you should wet it before weeding.

But, the key is to not procrastinate. If you get them as they are flowering or as the seed pods first set, they don’t shoot off. So spend a few minutes each day going around pulling them and stay ahead of them. You may not get them all the first year, but you should not have many the second year if you are diligent.

Don’t let up, or they will come roaring back. I suppose you could hit them with weed killer but they are frequently among things you don’t want killed and I don’t know if the week killer will destroy the seeds in the pods or not.

Happy hunting.

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Quitting Weed Welcome Wagon

Welcome into a family of those who have quit and those who are quitting dealing with weeds. Please use Quitting Weed as a resource to help you quit or maintain your garden. We will explain further in future posts about the easiest ways to win over weeds, so you can quit weeding. Hope you like the pun in the name.

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