What a Creeping Charlie is and How to Get Rid of It

There has been a lot of discussion about a ground covering weed that can quickly take over an area. It’s called a Creeping Charlie. Another name for the cover is “ground ivy.” Whether you’re currently battling a problem with it or you’ve never even heard of it before, it’s something that all weekend gardeners and plant lovers who tend their own landscapes need to be aware of.

What is Creeping Charlie?

Creeping Charlie is different things to different people. There are some who rightly refer to it as a weed, and then there are those that insist it is an herb. They’re both right. It has the appearance of an evergreen creeping ground cover with scalloped edges on its leaves. It’s a perennial plant that is a member of the mint family and it’s aromatic so some gardeners enjoying keeping small amounts of it around, although most just want to figure out how to get rid of it for good.

A hearty creeper

This plant is so hearty that its hard to get rid of. It can thrive in shady areas that are moist, but it can also stand to be out in a moderate amount of sunlight. Its botanical name is Glechoma hederacea and it is a plant that is native in Europe but has been brought over to North American where it has naturalized and adapted quite well to the environment. In fact, it’s adapted so well that it has the capacity to take over large areas and kill out other native plants in the area.

How can you identify Creeping Charlie?

There are several different varieties of the Creeping Charlie plant, but they’re all relatively easy to identify. They all have square stems in varying lengths that range from just a few inches long to up to 2 feet. Look for a plant that also has purple to dark green leaves with scalloped edges and flowers that are a blue to purple color and are funnel shaped. It’s hard to miss a Creeping Charlie because they form a dense mat of ground cover.

How do you kill a Creeping Charlie?

Before we begin, we’ll let you know that they spread by two methods. The plant spreads via its root system that throws out runners that form nodes that root right into the soil and then sends out additional runners. They soon spider web through an entire area with thousands of individual plants that entwine together to form a carpet of ground cover. They also spread by the seeds that are distributed through the air when a breeze picks them up. When you roll over it with a lawnmower the seed spreads even worse unless you use a bag attachment to catch the trimmings. If you attempt to dig them out all you need to leave behind is a single rhizome and a new plant will spring from it.

The best way to kill a Creeping Charlie overrun is to use a herbicide or weed control product that is intended for lawn management. In some cases when the infestation of this plant is extremely severe, the entire portion of the ground is killed off and then new lawn is reseeded later after the ground has recovered. Th most common type of chemical control used to keep Creeping Charlie at bay is a weed killer that is designed for killing broadleaf weeds, and for killing Creeping Charlie specifically.

Natural methods for killing Creeping Charlie

If you’re opposed to using traditional chemical methods of killing Creeping Charlie there are a few natural methods that can help. One of them is to smother the weed so it can’t get any sunlight or air. Place tarps or newspapers over the infested areas and leave them on long enough to choke out the plant. You can also pull them up and then be vigilant to get the new plants as they spring up. This is the most time consuming and difficult method but if you pull up the new shoots before they have time to mature and spread rhizomes again then you’ll eventually get rid of your Creeping Charlie problem. It’s a tough weed to get on top of but if you work on it consistently you can free your property of this noxious spreading weed.

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