How to Kill Creeping Charlie Plants


Creeping Charlie plants (glenchoma hedracea) are also known as ground ivy. These perennial broadleaf plants emit a mint odor and were once recommended as a groundcover. The plants' aggressive spreading habit make them more of a noxious weed. Creeping Charlie stands out from lawn turf because it has square vines, kidney-shaped leaves and purple flowers. Creeping Charlie plants prefer moist, shaded sites but frequently escape to sunny areas, according to the University of Illinois Extension's Controlling Creeping Charlie. The best way to kill creeping Charlie plants is to eliminate the conditions that promote the plants' growth.

Step 1

Use a core-aerator to improve soil drainage. Creeping Charlie plants suck up moisture in compacted soil. Aeration creates holes in the turf so water can filter through the soil more efficiently.

Step 2

Prune trees and shrubs that provide shade to a creeping Charlie patch. Cut limbs with a pruning saw and stems with pruning shears so that sunlight reaches the effected patch.

Step 3

Pull the entire plant and root from the soil. Use a dandelion fork to remove small, thin plants and a de-thatching rake to comb through thick patches. Destroy the pulled plant debris.

Step 4

Apply a post-emergence broadleaf herbicide to persistent plant patches. Read the label to ensure the product contains dicamba, the active ingredient that controls creeping Charlie. Spray the plants according to the herbicide manufacturer's directions. Plants respond best to fall applications, when temperatures range from 60- to 70- degrees F and no rain is expected for 48 hours after application.

Step 5

Introduce competitive species to prevent creeping Charlie from re-emerging. Sow shade-loving cool season grass seed in areas where creeping Charlie plants have invaded lawn turf. Replace creeping Charlie plants that have invaded the garden with similar, but less invasive species, such as hosta or pachysandra.

Step 6

Use proper cultural practices to keep creeping Charlie plants at bay. For example, mow a short grass like Kentucky bluegrass when it reaches 2 to 3 inches in height and a tall grass like fescue when it reaches 3 to 4 inches in height. Provide the lawn turf or garden with 1 inch of water a week, and apply fertilizer at least once a year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use an herbicide on a windy day. The herbicides can drift on to other plants. Do not use an herbicide on a hot day. The herbicides can volatize and injure nearby plants. Never use Borax more than once annually, or for more than two successive growing seasons. Borax does not break down in the soil readily, and can be more harmful to your plants than herbicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Core aerator
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Dandelion fork
  • De-thatching rake
  • Herbicide
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension: Controlling Creeping Charlie
  • Cornell University: Relieving Thatch
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Weed Control-Dandelions, Ground-Ivy and Wild Violets
  • Rutgers University: Best Management Practices

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University Extension: Borax on Ground Ivy: Boon or Bane?
  • The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing Hostas
  • The Ohio State University Department of horticulture and Crop Science: Pachsandra terminalis
Keywords: kill creeping charlie, creeping charlie plants, ground ivy, post-emergent herbicide, vine weeds, borax

About this Author

Renee Vians has been writing online since 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism and language arts certification from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her articles have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides and a variety of other websites.