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Ground ivy

By: Garden Gate staff
Ground ivy, also known as creeping Charlie, is a perennial weed that spreads by seeds and above-ground runners.

PHOTO: John Holtorf

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Ground ivy Glechoma hederacea

IDENTIFICATION — Ground ivy, also known as creeping Charlie, is a perennial weed that spreads by seeds and above-ground runners. Each runner can be several feet long, with many leaf nodes along the stem. Wherever these nodes touch the soil they take root quickly to form thick, dense mats.

In midspring to early summer, purple flowers completely cover the plant. The foliage is small with a scalloped edge and if crushed, it gives off a strong minty smell.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS — You’ll find ground ivy’s at home in lawns or areas that are occasionally tilled. Moist, shaded spots are perfect for it, but it’ll tolerate almost anything, from full sun to dry, compacted soil.

CONTROL —?In flower and vegetable gardens, pulling and hoeing are effective. Just make sure to pick up all of the pieces. Any part that’s left behind can grow a new plant. Once you get ground ivy under control, you’ll want to keep it from creeping back into gardens from neighboring areas. It’s a good idea to maintain a strip of bare soil around your garden where you can patrol occasionally and remove runners before they spread.

Since ground ivy can’t grow as fast in tall grass, set your lawn mower blade high. You can also use selective herbicides that won’t harm your lawn. Look for products containing dicamba, such as Acme Trimec ® or Weed-B-Gon Lawn Weed Killer2 ®. Read the instructions, but in severe infestations you may need to make at least two applications about 10 to 14 days apart to get rid of ground ivy.

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