Gardening Advice Online and Easy to Follow Gardening Articles

We have Ground Elder!

groundelder5The Gardening Register garden is gradually being taken over by Ground Elder.

I first noticed it last year but it was just a small patch. The smart thing would have been to dig it all out there and then but I didn’t.

groundelder3This year the patch has tripled in size so I now have my work cut out for me.

Ground Elder is an invasive, perennial weed which spreads using underground stems or rhizomes. It dies down each winter and reappears in the spring and flowers with flat headed white flowers in early summer. Usually the leaves are dark green but they can also be variegated.

groundelder2Because this plant creeps along under the soil it can easily creep in from wasteland or neighbours’ gardens. It can also be bought into your garden tucked away amongst the roots of other plants bought from friends or even garden centres.

The rhizomes are white so can be seen quite easily making it possible to remove it using a garden fork. However be very careful as leaving just a minute amount of root in the soil will result in a new plant, and so it goes on.

groundelder4Controlling this weed is difficult but possible with time and patience.

  • If possible lift any cultivated plants from the area and carefully remove any ground elder rhizones from in and around the rootball. Keep the plant moist while you treat the rest of the area.
  • Dig over the area removing all evidence of the rhizomes. Cover the area with black polythene and check regularly for regrowth.
  • Alternatively spray the area with a weedkiller containing glyphosate such as Roundup or Tumbleweed being careful not to get any weedkiller on other plants. This is best done when there is lots of leafy growth in mid to late summer.
  • The RHS also recommend using the residual soil-acting weedkiller dichlobenil (e.g. Casoron G4 Weed Barrier) in early spring. This can be applied to the soil around some trees and shrubs, without causing them damage.
  • Always read the instructions before using any weedkiller.
  • Once all sign of the weed has gone you can replant the area.
  • If it is in the lawn it is not a problem as regular mowing will soon weaken the plants and destroy them.