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How to Kill Creeping Charlie in a Flower Bed Without Hurting Perennials

By Paula Ezop ; Updated September 21, 2017

Creeping Charlie is generally found growing in the shady areas of lawns, although it can also be found growing in the sun and in garden/perennial beds. It is also referred to as ground ivy and creeping jenny. Creeping Charlie is a weed, which grows close to the ground, and not only does this weed love shade--it also loves moist soil. You can identify creeping Charlie by its leaves (they are shaped like small geranium leaves), and by its lavender/blue spring flowers. Its name describes its growing habit, as it spreads by its creeping stems, which take root. It is also easily spread by seeds.

Dig out creeping Charlie with your weeding fork as soon as you see it growing in your flower bed. Try to remove it in its entirety, by digging up the root system. This is the only way to kill creeping Charlie in a perennial flower bed. It will be an arduous process due to the vine-like spreading nature of the weed, and the difficulty of removing the entire root system. If any roots are left, it will continue to grow, but if you're persistent, eventually it will stop growing. Chemicals are not an option since they would also kill your perennials.

Pick up the end of the vine, and place your weeding fork where the weed is attached to the ground. Dig up the root system at this juncture point. Creeping Charlie may have several spots where its roots are attached to the ground; this is how the vine-like structure grows. Continue the process by following the structure of the weed/vine, locating where it is attached to the ground, and digging up the roots until you are able to lift the entire weed off of the ground. Follow this procedure until you have removed all of the creeping Charlie.

Take your claw-cultivating tool and cultivate the ground where you have removed the creeping Charlie. Cultivate down into the soil 1 to 2 inches being careful not to uproot any of your perennials. This will help to bring up any creeping Charlie roots that you did not remove. Dispose of the creeping Charlie, and any roots that you uprooted after cultivating the soil. Do not put it in your compost bin. You do not want to spread creeping Charlie by distributing its seeds through your compost.

Prepare the flower bed for mulching by smoothing out, and leveling the soil with your cultivating tool or rake. Break up any clumps of soil with your cultivating tool or rake.

Cover the prepared flower bed with mulch. Even out the mulch with your cultivating tool or rake. You will want to put down 1 to 2 inches of mulch. Hardwood mulch or rock will discourage the growth of weeds.


Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Weeding fork
  • Garden claw/cultivator
  • Rake
  • Mulch

About the Author


Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.