Some people call it Creeping Charlie, some call it ground ivy, but no matter what you call it, ground ivy is the bane of many gardeners. It’s actually known as Glechoma hederacea, and it can cause lots of damage to your plants.
Hedera is simply a family of 20 perennial plants that grow throughout the course of the year, and depending on the surroundings in the garden, these plants can creep on the floors, or they can creep on the buildings, trees, plants, rocks, and virtually anything else.
Basically, the ground ivy will climb over everything that comes its way. As long as the plant has a solid base and is capable of growing in a stable environment, it won’t take long to spread outward and consume others in its path. There have been many cases where entire trees have been surrounded by the ground ivy.
As the plant surrounds a tree, it prevents the tree from getting enough sunlight, and eventually, the tree begins to die. As long as it is on ground level, it is probably not going to exceed more than half a foot, but if you leave it unattended and do not check its growth, it won’t take long before the invasive plant takes over your entire garden.
The real problem with ground ivy is that it is incredibly resilient, and adapts almost on the fly. This makes it incredibly difficult for a gardener to control its growth and prevent it from invading their flower beds. If there is an empty space in your garden, it won’t take long before the ground ivy fills it up.
The distinctive feature of the ground ivy is its scallop-edged minty green leaves. You will also notice delicate blue flowers as the plant blooms in the spring. When you look at the plant during spring, it comes off as really pretty.
But, that’s where your fascination should end. If you let it grow without any checks, it’s going to destroy your landscaping beds, and it’ll continue to grow in a vining manner.
Areas that are shaded and get enough moisture are especially preferred by the plant and if you don’t act fast, it won’t take long before the plant completely runs over your garden or your backyard. So, here’s a brief guide for getting rid of ground ivy.
Identifying the Ground Ivy
Keep in mind that most people confuse ground ivy with Variegata, which is a cousin to this plant. Variegata is sold in nurseries as well, and it’s readily available for sale.
Many gardeners even prefer growing the plant in their gardens. So, it’s important for you to keep a distinction between ground ivy and Variegata.
Look closely at the leaves. You should know that ground ivy has fan shaped leaves with scalloped edges. They are also fuzzy when you touch them.
You will notice clusters of blue flowers that resemble orchids growing on the tiny square stems. But, there is no definite way to determine the height of the plant.
It primarily depends on the plant’s growing conditions; in most cases, the ground-based plant is not going to exceed more than 1.6 feet. However, it might even be under two inches in height depending on the soil conditions and the amount of water the plant receives.
As mentioned, the plant loves damp areas, though you should not expect it to hide away from areas that receive full sunlight. You might see the ground ivy on lawns that are on the road to recovery. The plant prefers soils that are rich in nutrients and relatively deficient in boron.
On top of that, perhaps the most obvious way to determine the ground ivy from other plants is its pronounced aroma. Most people mistake the ground ivy for common mallow, which is a different plant altogether.
Common mallow does not spread through vines, and the spicy aroma that the ground ivy oozes is also not found in common mallow.
Keep in mind that there are certain plants that look quite a bit like ground ivy. Dichondra, a plant that is native to Texas, is one of them. The plant has relatively smooth leaves, and also has the same weedy traits that you will find in ground ivy.
Some also mistake ground ivy for henbit, though that plant only grows during the winter months.
Getting Rid of Ground Ivy
Once you have managed to identify the plant and are absolutely sure that you are dealing with ground ivy, you can use a variety of different techniques to get rid of the plant.
In the following few paragraphs, we shall talk about some of the most effective methods of getting rid of ground ivy.
Remove it by Hand
Let’s start with the most basic method; pulling out the plant by hand. You will just need a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. If the infestation is relatively low, you can just pull it out by hand.
If the plant has not been able to spread out its roots in the ground and the vines are still pretty small, you can just cut them off, and then pull the entire thing out by the roots.
It might seem like an extreme measure at first, but you should know that the plant itself is quite delicate. The real problem with this method is that most people fail to completely remove the roots of the plant.
If the plant is relatively shallow, you might be able to pull the entire thing out in your hands.
However, if you feel that certain roots remain inside the plant, you need to take a different approach. Take a small shovel, and try to expose the roots of the plant.
This way, you will be able to get rid of all the resistance, thus making it easy for you to pull out the entire thing by hand.
The chances are high that pulling out the plant by hand isn’t going to be an effective solution.
Within a few weeks, you might notice the plant growing in your garden again. If that happens, you need to take a slightly different approach to cleaning it up. This time, it’s best if you use herbicides.
There are several broadleaf herbicides available in the market that are actually quite effective, and might be just what you need to get rid of the problem. Look for an herbicide that contains dicamba, because they are going to work really well, especially if you know how to use them the right way.
Remember, avoid using conventional herbicides. Instead, only buy herbicides designed for use on broadleaf plants. Keep in mind that while most of the products that are found here can be used on any part of your lawn, they are going to end up killing the tender plants or vegetables that you might be growing in your garden.
If you have a flower garden, make sure that the spray from the herbicide does not reach all the way there. Also, you need to protect yourself when using the herbicide too, so it’s best to put on a mask.
As mentioned above in this article, the ground ivy is incredibly resilient and adapts really quickly.
What that means is that if you continue using the same product again and again, it will stop working. The plant adapts really quickly, so if you want to keep it away, you have to switch it up from time to time.
If you notice a really bad problem with the ground ivy in your garden, you might want to consider the possibility of completely killing all the plants and starting anew.
A broad spectrum herbicide should be sprayed all over the area to get rid of the problem. However, this is a drastic measure, and it’s only recommended by professionals if more than half of your lawn has been covered by this weed.
To get the best effects from your herbicide, you need to time it right. Most professionals recommend that you should use the herbicide when the weather is around 21 degrees Centigrade. That’s around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, you should only apply the herbicide soon after you are done mowing the lawn.
Once the herbicide has been applied, you should avoid doing any kind of additional work on your yard. You have to let the herbicide sink in and work on its own.
Then, as is the recommended dosage, you need to wait at least a couple of weeks before you apply the herbicide on the plants again.
In some cases, a final treatment two weeks after that might also be required. Ideally, it is highly recommended that you apply the herbicide during the fall season. The ground ivy is usually storing nutrients at this time so they are able to absorb the herbicide much more effectively.
This weakens the ground ivy considerably during the winter months, to the point where it completely dies off and is unable to return again. You can also treat it during the early months of spring or even in summer when the plant is blooming, you will probably need to invest in additional treatments if you want it to be completely successful.
During these times, you should know that the herbicide might just help keep the plant at bay instead of killing it altogether. If you want to kill it altogether, the fall season is usually the best choice for you, and you must follow the instructions properly.
Killing the Plant Without Chemicals
If you feel that using herbicides might not be a wise idea and want to choose a solution that doesn’t involve the use of chemicals, there are a few solutions that you can try.
If you are removing the plant by hand, you can also do other things to make life a bit more unpleasant for the plant. For instance, remove the amount of shade in the yard so that the plant receives full sunlight.
But, as we have already talked about, the plant isn’t going to die off completely in such situations. If you are able to improve drainage in your yard and improve the quality of soil, there is a slight chance that the plant might die off.
But, keep in mind that the chances are quite low, and instead of completely killing the plant, you might just end up keeping it at bay.
Boron to Kill the Ground Ivy
One of the most effective methods available to you is to use boron. Boron is an effective weed killer.
However, most agricultural professionals generally recommend against the use of boron, and that is one of the main reasons why you won’t find this treatment on most websites and other locations.
The process to use boron requires you to use 10 ounces of borax and mix it in 4 ounces of water. Make sure that the water is slightly warm.
Once you have diluted the mixture, you can then add around three gallons of water to the mixture and blend it completely. Then, you can use a spray bottle to spray the mixture on the ground ivy.
To get the best results when using boron, you should apply this mixture when the weather is dry and the plant hasn’t had much water. The real difficulty lies in mixing the boron together.
If there is even a slight deviation from the amounts mentioned above, you might end up killing all the plants in your yard. On top of that, the soil might end up turning toxic as well.
Also, it’s important to note that boron is quite hazardous to other plants and animals, especially if it’s found in large quantities. That is one of the main reasons why the use of boron is discouraged so much.
Over the passage of time, boron might prove to be quite harmful to the environment. These are just some of the methods that you can use to kill the ground ivy.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.