Controlling rampant/invasive plants

Ivy, Brambles, bamboo… All wonderful plants in their own right but by god, turn your head for 5 minutes and you can turn back and find half your garden awash in them! There are quite a few other rampant plants that will quickly overwhelm your garden if you don’t control them.

For me a few years ago it was Montbretia (Crocosmia) I swear NOTHING kills this bloody plant… Eventually I had to give up and literally dig the whole patch up and sift out the corms… Even now I still get odd ones sprouting in the area. And I don’t want to talk about how much of a b@st**d Cleavers are for spreading out of control in about 5 seconds!

There is a way to protect yourself from these plants. Ivy and other climbers can simply be clipped back and held in check that way… This is the simplest of them all to deal with, all the creep can be easily seen at any time but this is the most time intense of them all. Some other plants are more sneaky in spreading.

Corms and bulbs
If the plant is spread by corms or bulbs then you will need to lift and divide or remove that way. Not an easy task but if done at the right time won’t be so bad. Lots of spade/back work but no chemicals or anything like that.

Rhizome spread.
This is a little more tricky and one that will require yet more digging but with the added difficulty that you need to dig carefully and pull up the WHOLE rhizome or it will come back from any piece left in the ground so don’t expect this one to be a quick fix!

Japanese Knotweed. A REAL problem!
Japanese Knotweed. A REAL problem!

One of the biggest problem plants that uses rhizome creep is Japanese Knotweed, a real horror of a plant that can take YEARS to clear.

Seed spread
Another easy one. simply stop the plant from flowering or snipping the seed heads before they ripen and spread.

One thing to note is that some plants do not simply reply on ONE method for reproduction. Some plants like those in the Rubus genus. Strawberries, Blackberries and Raspberries for example, use more. The Strawberry uses both above-ground runners with plantlets at the ends and seeds to spread. Raspberries use seeds and underground runners and Blackberries use masses of above-ground runners that establish roots when they touch the ground as well as seeds. So if you are fighting a plant be aware of this and fight it on both fronts!

The war of attrition against some plants is the only way to win. Plants like Japanese Knotweed and Mare’s tail can be controlled but only with lots of patience and sometimes ONLY with chemicals. Dig out what you can, snip or hoe anything that shows it’s head or, as a last resort, weedkill their sorry asses.

I’d like to end this with a little speech… I mentioned Herbicide as a method of control. Yes, it will work but I really do urge you to NOT take this route unless you are dealing with a real bugger of a plant, (I’m looking at you, Japanese Knotweed!) then the other ways may require more effort on your part but MUCH better for the environment.


5 thoughts on “Controlling rampant/invasive plants

  1. I wish I had known that horseradish would spread like crazy. I’ll be digging that out of our garden all summer! Great post! Wish you had a small graphic in your post so when I “like” it, it would show up in my list. You write such great stuff!

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