Creeping Charlie in the Garden - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Creeping Charlie in the Garden

Close up on leaves of creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie has square stems with opposite leaves.
Photo Credit: Dr. Aaron Patton, Purdue University

Q: I can control creeping charlie in my yard. How can I safely control/stop creeping charlie in the garden?

A:I share this never-ending challenge to keep creeping Charlie (also known as ground ivy) out of my garden beds. Creeping Charlie is an herbaceous perennial that spreads by seed as well as horizontal, above-ground stems called stolons or runners. These runners are easy to hand pull, especially after rain or irrigation but the plant will produce new runners. You have to keep pulling throughout the season.  Digging up the mother plants is more effective, but tedious. It’s especially important to prevent seed formation by keeping them pulled when flowering.  A layer of mulch 2-3 inches deep will help discourage the plants, but likely won’t be completely effective.

close up of stolons on the Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie spreads by very aggressive stolons with the ability to root at each node.
Photo Credit: Dr. Aaron Patton, Purdue University.

Any herbicide that would effectively control creeping Charlie would be risky to use around your garden plants. Springtime during active growth is when this weed is most vulnerable to herbicide but this is also when your desirable plants would be most susceptible to damage. Some have found some success with very careful spot application of broad-leaved herbicide in the fall, when desirable plants are a little less susceptible and the creeping Charlie is still actively growing.  Using a wick application method can help keep the herbicide from reaching desirable plants but is tedious in a garden setting. Be sure the herbicide product is labeled for controlling creeping Charlie (ground ivy) because not all broad-leaved weed killers are effective on this species. Read and follow all label directions. Any spray that contacts your desirable plants could damage or kill them. So, I’ll repeat, using herbicide around your garden plants can be risky and is not the best approach for most gardeners.

More information including photos to help identify this pesky weed at https://www.purduelandscapereport.org/article/spotlight-on-weeds-ground-ivy-creeping-charlie-glechoma-hederacea/.


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