Invasive Plant Spurs Flower Bed Renovation

May 21, 2017 lawanda Newspaper Columns

It was my own fault.  In my defense, I didn’t know any better at the time.  Here’s what happened that led to having to spend an entire afternoon digging every single plant out of one of my mother’s flower beds.

      Twenty-six years ago, my husband and I purchased a home that had many beautiful flower beds.  One of the plants had pretty purple bell-like flowers arranged up the side of thin, stiff stalks.  I eventually identified it as creeping bellflower.  I never understood the “creeping” part of the name because it stayed right where it was planted.  My mother admired the plant, so I divided it and gave a clump of it to her.

      Fast forward 24 years.  My one clump of creeping bellflower was still just a clump.  Never moved an inch.  Unfortunately, the little clump that was transplanted to my mother’s flower bed found heaven there and spread like wildfire.  It covered that flower bed and the next one and the next one, and somehow it is also growing way on the other side of the yard. 

      This is a perfect example of how an invasive plant can be completely harmless in one environment, but can explode in population when it encounters perfect conditions.

      In 2009, the Wisconsin DNR produced an extensive list of Wisconsin’s invasive plants, in NR40.  Creeping bellflower appears on that list and is designated “Restricted.”  This means that people who have it on their property are not compelled to eradicate it, but are strongly encouraged to do so. 

      Creeping bellflower spreads by creeping along underground.  Pulling causes the roots to break and new plants sprout from each broken root piece so that’s not a solution.  At Mom’s house, I laid two big tarps on the lawn alongside the invaded flowerbed.  Just as the perennials were beginning to grow in spring, I dug each of them up and placed them on one of the tarps.  I carefully untangled creeping bellflower sprouts and roots from among the perennial roots and threw all the creeping bellflower parts on the other tarp.  When all the perennials were out, I dug the soil from the rest of the bed and carefully sorted through it, pulling out all the fine white bellflower root strands.  Finally, I planted each perennial back in the bed and gave them a good watering.

      Composting creeping bellflower plants and roots doesn’t work.  It will result in baby bellflower plants wherever the finished compost is spread.  So I placed the bellflower debris in a trash bag destined for the landfill.  As you may know, we aren’t supposed to put yard waste out for garbage pickup, but there is an exception for invasive plants.  Place them in plastic bags labeled “Invasive Plants for Landfill.”

      So that’s one flower bed cleared, although I will keep checking it in case I missed any root pieces.  Unfortunately, there are several more creeping bellflower-invaded flower beds to go!

 

Gardening techniques and toolsPests/Weeds/Invasives


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by http://wordpress.org/ and http://www.hqpremiumthemes.com/