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Spanish bluebell takeover

Does anyone have any advice on the most effective way of getting rid of Spanish bluebells? I bought a house last spring and the back garden was pretty much covered with them. I read a few things online that said the best way of getting rid was to dig out the bulbs and runners. I made sure I was so thorough and got out what I saw but now it looks like they've doubled and spread. Some bulbs are so big I definitely wouldn't have missed that size before. They've grow through membrane and gravel and look like they are killing other plants around them. I don't want to landscape my garden if I have to dig it up every year. Thanks 



  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    if its a large area I would recommend spraying with weed killer, digging out you'll still get them coming up as you'll always miss some.

  • I tried that last summer but it barely touched them. I've since read that no weed killers work on them 

  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 2,010

    i inherited loads, dug quite a few up last year but mine too seem to have doubled this year, they're pretty enoughbut I want to do my bit to keep English bluebells going, so I want to introduce those when I've got rid of the Spanish ones, problem is my front beds are very heavily planted and it's really hard to dig them up without damaging nearby plants, also I ended up in a&e last year after a particularly strenuous effort to be rid of them! The damn things are so deep too. I'm going to try roundup gel daubed on each one when they're well into flowering

  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,571

    I've been battling them for 4 years now. Glyphosphate does work I think - but not well enough to justify using industrial quantities of this chemical and risking damaging other nearby plants. (Mine are just growing in the borders so surrounded by other planting) Concerted digging out just seems to spread small bulbules around.

    Last year I decided to be more relaxed about it all and try to enjoy the (still pretty) flowers. Whenever I'm planting or weeding and dig up the bulbs I bin them. Whenever I'm weeding I pull off the leaves to starve the bulbs of their food source. As soon as the flowers go over I remove the flowering stems and leaves so they can't set seed & to starve the bulb.

    Same process with celandines (which are worse IMO).

    I could believe that this year there are fewer plants poking their heads through....

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Garden noobGarden noob Posts: 260

    I'm also targeting Spanish bluebells, because last year we planted native bluebells and don't want them to cross-pollinate. 

    From what I've read, and my own experience backs this up, Round Up (glyophoshate) doesn't even dent their growth. I gave some bluebells a healthy dose and it didn't even check them. What did happen though is it managed to kill the grass in a neat circle around the bluebells image Admittedly I didn't try the gel version of Round Up but I don't hold out too many hopes.

    I think digging is literally the only solution. Now is a good time of year as the ground is soft.

    If they persist, I'm tempted to throw away all soil within a foot of each bluebell plant. Sounds drastic, but it's hard to catch every single bulb because some are tiny.

    While I'm here, can anyone confirm if these are Spanish bluebells?


  • Garden noobGarden noob Posts: 260

    P.S. be careful how you dispose of bulbs. You shouldn't compost them because it doesn't kill them - they'll just grow in your compost bin. Some advise storing them in a black bag for a year before composting, but I don't think that's guaranteed to kill them either.

    Putting them in the regular bin isn't great because they'll probably end up growing on landfill somewhere. I plan to burn my bulbs in an incinerator in the summer. 

  • Thanks. I also have those flowers in my garden too, I'm not sure if they're the spanish variety though. I tried using Weedol rootkill plus last year and that done nothing. I think I will have to resort to throwing away a lot of soil too. I dread to think how deep they go. Good idea about burning them. I made the mistake of putting them in the compost- i have a crazy bluebell bin now! 

  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,281

    If you keep pulling off the leaves you will weaken them so they are less likely to flower. If you miss some it doesn't matter (for the English bluebells!) uinless they flower - it is cross pollination that does the damage as all the offspring are hybrids, not true English bluebells any more (like purebreed dogs and mongrels!) Taking off seedheads is just locking the stable door as far as native bluebells are concerned - it might reduce the numbers in your garden, but so would removing the flowers!

    If you put them in a black bin bag and leave them long enough they will die and rot down eventually, but it will probably take more than a year - I do this with ground elder and nettle roots that I don't want to put in my compost directly.

  • Garden noobGarden noob Posts: 260

    Thanks for the tips. I've now dug up these "bluebells". I couldn't sit here knowing there were suspected Spanish bluebells in my garden. Given that most of the bulbs were more than 1 foot below the surface (under the raised bed) I guess there's a fair chance they were bluebells. The bulbs did look like classic bluebell bulbs.

    I'm really hopeful that I've now eliminated the Spanish bluebells from my garden (dug up 30-40 bulbs) but I bet there will still be plenty next year image

  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,005

    Good luck with that noob!

    I thought the same last year.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
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