A pesky, perennial weed that sports pretty, little blue-violet flowers shows up in abundance each spring in lawns and gardens. It’s scientific name is glechoma hederacea, but it is commonly known as creeping Charlie, creeping Jenny, or ground ivy.
This weed spreads easily and vigorously and will take over if not controlled.
Unfortunately, it is not an easy weed to control.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Dick Pracht of Marion, a longtime lawn care provider.
“You think you’ve got it killed, and in two weeks it comes back.”
The creeping weed reproduces not only through seed dropped by mature plants but also by setting down roots all along its long stems. If any bits of the vine remain after attempting to kill the plant, the surviving bits will continue to grow and spread.
If pulled by hand, the plants must be completely removed from the site and thoroughly destroyed. Pracht said if a root is broken off, the plant will come back.
Mowing the weeds only perpetuates their spread. The mower will chop them into small bits and throw them back out into the lawn, where each bit has a chance to set roots, grow, and eventually overtake the lawn.
Isolated plants or small patches around bushes or in flower gardens can be killed by placing cardboard on top of them. Janna Dalke of Serenity Gardens said cardboard placed under mulch is a good way to control all weeds.
Broadleaf weed herbicides that do not kill grass are available locally at farm co-ops, hardware stores, and greenhouses. The weed killer should contain dicamba or triclopyr to be effective against creeping weeds.
It’s important to wear gloves and a mask when applying herbicide with a hand sprayer, Pracht said.
He said creeping weeds die down in summer and don’t bloom, but the roots are preserved underground. That’s why the best way to control them with chemicals is to spray them in the fall at frost time and again in spring as they flower.
Persistence is the key to eradicating creeping Charlie. Follow-ups may be necessary.
“At age 73, I don’t want to tackle it,” Pracht said.