We know this herbaceous perennial is pretty and can sometimes be the perfect way to fill in some empty ground space in a garden, but creeping Charlie is also a bit of a bully that can quickly choke out some of your other flower favorites. In fact, creeping Charlie may just be one of the biggest creeps in your garden! If you've got some of this creeping beauty in your Bettendorf garden, here's what to do before it takes over your world:
What is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie is a wild weed related to mint, another fast-growing plant, and enjoys menacing Iowa gardens under the right weather conditions. It was once a popular ground cover that was first introduced to North America by European settlers. Now, thanks to its devilishly good survival tactics, creeping Charlie has been labeled as invasive in many states and even banished in others. So, how can you get rid of this creeping pest? Let's take a look:
How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie in Your Bettendorf Garden
You may want to rethink ever using this plant in your garden, even as a filler in hanging baskets. Creeping Charlie always finds a way to escape, as a single fallen seed, stem, or rhizome can quickly grow roots and proliferate wherever it lands. Knowing the right conditions for this weed to grow will make it much easier to eradicate it for good, or at least keep it where you want it. We recommend these common tricks for keeping this weed at bay:
- Light: Generally, creeping Charlie likes shady spots and thrives under trees and in-between other plants. Start by trimming back any trees and shrubs that may be sheltering the weeds to let light and air through, as this can prevent creeping Charlie from spreading.
- Soil: Creeping Charlie likes it wet and soggy, so look for ways to create more drainage in your garden or any area where this weed is thriving. If you water less and let the sun reach those dark and covered spots, you're more likely to stop creeping Charlie from gaining momentum. Keep your garden soil fertile, well-draining, and on the dryer side if you're in the middle of a creeping Charlie standoff.
Don't give it room: Often, creeping Charlie will sneak its way into the spaces on a thin, weak lawn and take over. To avoid this, keep up with good lawn care. Lush, healthy grass will drown out weeds and stop them from getting traction. If you do find creeping Charlie popping up amongst turf, try using a broadleaf herbicide like Weed Free Zone by Fertilome. Remember to only apply any herbicides to the weed itself; otherwise, you may kill surrounding plants and flowers with contact. Weed Free Zone is safe to use on midwest lawns.
- Pull it out: If this weed is in a flower bed, try pulling the entire plant out at the roots. Even the smallest bits of creeping Charlie left on the ground will germinate, so whatever you do, don't hoe it! Soaking the soil will help you pull more of the roots from the ground, but you will still want to repeat regularly until no signs of regrowth appear. You may need to do this seasonally if growth has been ongoing and stubborn. We're telling you—this is one stubborn plant!
Some Good Things About Creeping Charlie
While some gardeners can't stand the sight of creeping Charlie, others can't help but love this delicate little weed, and there are some benefits to keeping it regulated in your Bettendorf garden. Their little pixie flowers are super-attractive to early pollinators, so they play a helpful part in your garden's ecosystem if you're willing to put up with them. They also make a great groundcover, as was intended! If you're looking for a low-maintenance plant to use as an alternative to turf, creeping Charlie's your man. It's also edible! Being a mint cousin, you can use the leaves of this plant in cooking, so you know it's not all bad.
If you're still unsure about keeping this creep around and want to know more about how to get rid of creeping Charlie in your Bettendorf garden, come by the garden center for some more tips and tricks.