Ground elder

Is there an easier way to get rid of this menace other than just a battle of digging it out?  I can't use a general weedkiller as it is winding its way round too many plants.


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    I am not sure you will ever win by digging it out.  Unless you are a very young man or woman!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,871

    Not really - sorry - methodically digging it out really is the only way to go if you can't spray.  Don't let it flower and seed.  If it's spreading in from another property sink a solid barrier along the boundary to help prevent it's spread.  Dig as much as you can out and when the bits you have left reshoot (and there will be some) then bruise the leaves and paint glyphosate on the leaves and leave it for several weeks to be drawn back into the roots - when it is withered and brown dig it out.  It will get less and less but it will take several years.

    Or you can gather the young leaves and cook some delicious recipes with them but do that before you spray them.

    Good luck image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Paddy5Paddy5 Posts: 71

    Thank you.  I am in my late sixties but still enjoy getting stuck in to the garden with a digging fork !!  It is rewarding if the ground is damp and you can pull at the roots bu it just keeps coming back !!  Will try painting the leaves when I have removed the bulk of it.  Any more ideas gratefully received. 

  • PipstrellePipstrelle Posts: 79

    There may be some ideas here for you. I have the same problem! And as far as digging in the garden, there are some very much more mature yet fit and able gardeners out there! image


  • Paddy5Paddy5 Posts: 71

    Just got out another couple of bucket loads !!!!!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,871

    Well done - have a piece of cake as a reward 



    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    If you ever get stiff and sore from digging out ground elder, there is one thing to consider - it was called Bishops Wort because it helped with the pain of gout, which only Bishops got because only they could eat well enough to get it!!   Seriously, you can make a tea with the young leaves, steep a cup full in a larger cupful of boiling water, sweeten with a little Honey and it does help the aches and pains.  It also makes you feel a sense of  'see, you're not winning it all!". It tasted a bit like cabbage water, not totally disgusting, is harmles (unless you are allergic to cabbage and its family), and truly is useful.

    One other bit of advice, never, ever let it flower,  also you'll never get rid of it all, taller other plants can and will grow around it, there are worse things to have in the garden, and it does disappear in winter!!

  • TootsietimTootsietim Posts: 176

    Does anyone know of a ground cover plant that can outcompete ground elder, but not go mad itself ????

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,871

    No - sorry image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    The very nature of a stron ground cover means that it will be invasive, you can't expect a plant just to stop where you would like it to, when its nature is to spread all over!!  I'd still rather have ground elder than mares tail or docks!!  If it gets into the laawn (not hapened here yet, but I know it has to quite a few folk) it responds well to mowing.  Nothing, not even ground elder, likes having its head cut off on a regular basis. 

  • WodufinWodufin Posts: 18

    I had a 20m x 3m bit of garden here when we moved in that had very established elder in it. I went the dig it up route and was quite succesful. A year later I've not seen any elder at all.

    It is a lot more difficult when there are plants established, but how would putting down heavy duty sheeting over the top of the elder work? Leave the established plants above the sheet and block the leder form the sun. I don't know if it'd work for elder, but it did on a section of lawn that I'm going to turn into a sun patio.

  • Just to let you know Ground elder sends down sub roots which i'm reliably informed with the right soil conditions can go as much as a meter down. This is a survival tactic the plant has developed along with the break off joints in the roots designed by nature to help the plant survive. With this in mind do what i do, just keep digging. AAARRGGG.

  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 499

    There is only one solution other than covering it with a light blocking sheet for at least 12 months, and it ain't digging!  if there is someone out there Who has Totally eradicated an infestation by digging then please tell me how. 

    otherwise, glyphosate is the only solution.

    Sorry about typing. Still trying to master my new nexus toy!






  • I bought a pretty variegated leafed plant described just as "small, variegated" at a yellow book garden I think, last year.  Went to so many, don't know where it came from!!  A couple or so weeks ago I noticed variegated leaves starting to poke through - 1 by the label;image 1 a foot to the right;image 1 a foot behindimage & 1 was about 2 foot to the left.imageimage 

    I did some investigative digging - oh dear!!  I just pulled up all the roots that I could & removed some of the other plants to safety.  I'm now waiting for the leaves to look nice & plumptious before dabbing them with glyphosate.

    Recently I came across a comment by Helen Yemm the gardener & writer having a bit of a rant about the fact that variegated ground elder was on sale.  If this one had been accurately labelled then I wouldn't have bought it & didn't realise the significance of the leaf shape at the time.image

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Actually I bought three plants of this 12 years ago, it lives quietly and safely under my red sycamore where absolutely nothing had grown ever.  As long as I never let it flower, watch out that it does not leak out into any nearby pot, it has been quiet and well behaved.  It lights up a dark corner which would otherwise be always dark and dull.  It disappears each winter, I grow spring tiny bulbs there with epidmediums along the open side, it never tries to overgrow those,.  As with any ground cover plant, ensure that it has to struggle to survive and it will behave - it has no choice.  I don't pretend this is a suitable plant for very many places, it could esasily get away in better growing circumstances, but it is not getting better circumstances so it stays put. 

  • That's interesting Bookertoo, mine is in a raised bed with lovely soft soil facing east & getting lots of sun. Maybe where I bought it from had similar conditions to you, so for them it was small.image

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    I think so too HJ, in the situation you have it, it must think it is in heaven.  If you have a dull dark corner where nothing grows, move it there - otherwise get rid of it!! I love it where it is, but would never give it a prime place such as yours has.  I think it a pity that growers of such plants don't put proper information on the labels, for this one, mile a minute plant and a few others I know about.

  • Emma1978Emma1978 Posts: 202

    I unravel it from the neighbouring plants, pop as much of it in a bucket as I can, and zap the jiggle out of it within the bucket. The bucket protects the neighbouring plants from getting frazzled. Worked for me image

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