Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

Part of Ep. 603 Too Cold to Garden

Join Extension Weed Specialist Larry Binning as he discusses chemical and physical methods for controlling the invasive plant, creeping charlie.

Premiere date: Dec 19, 1998

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
It's coming! And this year, I'm going to be ready for it. I'm talking about Creeping Charlie, alias ground ivy. And joining me is Larry Binning, Extension Weed Specialist and Chair of the UW- Madison Horticulture Department. Larry, I get a lot of people asking me how to control Creeping Charlie. I know it was brought to Wisconsin, one of the reasons, was to use in beer making.

Larry:
It was also brought as a ground cover. And as you can see here, it's very effective in doing just that.

Shelley:
It's also very invasive.

Larry:
It's a creeping mint. And you're right, it's very invasive. It's a square-stemmed plant, which all the mints are. You can use that as an identification characteristic. It has nice blue flowers on it, which it's blooming right now. And if you crush the plant or leaves, it has a very distinct odor. Anyone who's mowed through it can use that as an identifying characteristic, as well.

Shelley:
I've got it all over my yard, but it's probably most notable in my flower beds. How do I control it there?

Larry:
Well, if it's mulched like this is, you can pull it and remove it that way. It creeps over the top of the mulch and roots through it, so you can get most of it out in that manner. The mulching and pulling isn't a bad method in a bed. You can also spot treat it with Round-Up. But you have to be very careful, because you are the selectivity with Round-Up in that setting.

Shelley:
And if it's crowded with other flowers, you're going to hurt those, too.

Larry:
Round-Up will kill green plants.

Shelley:
Period. So, hand control and lots of mulch. And mulch is good for the flower beds, anyhow.

Larry:
Correct.

Shelley:
To control it in my flower beds, I've always thought the first thing to do is to get it out of my lawn, because I know that's where it's coming from. How do I control it? I've heard that Borax is used as a home remedy for lawn control. How does that work here in Wisconsin?

Larry:
Research conducted here would indicate that Borax is not very effective on ground ivy, and we've not had good results with it at all.

Shelley:
So, not a home remedy for Wisconsinites?

Larry:
Apparently not. It has not worked well.

Shelley:
What would work well for us then?

Larry:
The research conducted here would indicate that the 2-4-D containing products-- various types from various manufacturers are all effective, as long as they have some 2-4-D in them. All of these products contain 2-4-D or 2-4-D mixed with other materials.

Shelley:
And 2-4-D is an herbicide?

Larry:
It's a broadleaf herbicide. It works on ground ivy, but it will also kill other broadleaf plants, so you want to be careful using it.

Shelley:
How do we use it?

Larry:
Read the directions, because the products can be of different concentrations. You have to specifically look at what the product label says for use. And then mix it with an appropriate volume of water-- in this case, water-- and apply it with a sprayer. Look at your sprayer and make sure you know how much it's delivering or how many gallons per thousand square feet or rate per thousand. Mix it appropriate to the material you are using and make the application.

Shelley:
So, it really varies with each product. We really need to read that label.

Larry:
That's correct.

Shelley:
And what about safety concerns with something like this? I know you're not supposed to go rolling in the lawn after you've sprayed.

Larry:
Once again, look at the product label that you're using. And the precautionary statements for using that turf should be stated on the label. It could be different for different products. Just take a good look at the label.

Shelley:
Will this harm my lawn?

Larry:
No. Used at the proper rate, according to the label, it will not hurt the lawn. And again, the rate is the critical issue. Be sure that you use it appropriately. Too much could damage the lawn, too little wouldn't give effective control.

Shelley:
Actually, if it's too windy out, it may drift on to other plants and harm those, too.

Larry:
That's another reason to carefully look at it as to how you should be using it, make sure you have large droplet size and don't spray when it's windy. Putting 2-4-D on other broadleaf desirable plants can cause injury off site.

Shelley:
Can I do this at any time of the year?

Larry:
It's best to do it early spring or late fall. The research results would indicate that it's been very effective in those settings. Right now, when it's in full bloom or after the first frost in the fall.

Shelley:
A lot of gardeners don't want to use any chemicals. Is there hope for them if they've got it in their lawns?

Larry:
If they have it in their lawn, try to manage the grass better. Raise the cutting height, remove shade if that's a possibility. Again, the cutting height is a critical issue-- and then, probably learn to enjoy it, because it's very difficult, without chemical treatment, to remove it.

Shelley:
At this time.

Larry:
At this time.

Shelley:
Thanks, Larry. Remember, if you do want to control it with 2-4-D products, there are two times of the year: in the spring when it's blooming or in the fall after the first frost.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.