Ground Ivy Weed

Ground Ivy Weed

By Jennifer Olvera, Garden Guides Contributor

General Characteristics

Ground ivy weed,also referred to as creeping Charlie,is a fragrant, hardy perennial evergreen with creeping, blocky stems of varying length, leaves that range from dark green to purple and funnel-shaped, blue-purple flowers. Rhizomes occur and fibrous roots can be found at the base of nodes. Although native to Europe, this member of the mint family has since found a home in North America.

Once prized for its medicinal properties in ancient Greece and Rome, ground ivy weed was used to treat ringing ears and inflamed eyes. It also was believed to be a helpful diuretic, astringent, tonic and gentle stimulant while treating kidney diseases and indigestion.

Growing Conditions

Primarily a weed of turfgrass, ground ivy weed prefers moist, shaded areas but also can thrive in part sun. It's an aggressive weed that can survive even in poorly drained soil.

Cultivation and Care

Maintaining a thick, vigorous lawn,especially in shaded areas,is a good idea. When selecting grass, fine fescues like creeping red, chewings, hard and sheep fescue are preferred. Avoid over-fertilizing; an annual nitrogen rate of no more than 1- to-2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet is advisable.

Weed Control Techniques

Hand-pulling ground ivy weed is one method of control. The weed can easily be pulled from wet soil; it is integral that the entire root system is removed, so grab the root system as close to the soil line as possible. Plan on pulling weeds each month from spring to fall, digging up large bunches with well-established roots. Typically, three seasons of diligent pulling is required to control the presence of ground ivy weed.

The invasive weed can be killed by spraying it with glyphosate-based, or three-way broadleaf, herbicides. Those containing 2, 4-D, mecoprop or MCPP,as well as dicamba,provide the best control against ground ivy weed. Herbicides with triclopyr also might work. Herbicides should be applied in fall near the first frost or in spring when the weed is in bloom.

To prevent the spread of ground ivy weed in gardens, apply a layer of mulch that's at least 2 inches thick to discourage growth. Alternately, vegetable and flower gardens benefit from an application of organic materials, such as wheat straw, grass clippings or mulched leaves.

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