Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Japanese Stilt Grass & Thistle Remedies

Microstegium vimineum / Japanese Stilt Grass, Garden Dilemmas Ask Mary Stone

Hello fellow readers, Last week we spoke about annoying crabgrass and how to keep it at bay. Unfortunately, there’s more to be crabby about, writes Carol from Blairstown, NJ, who sent a picture of what looks like mini-bamboo, which she’s trying to wipe out to allow her pachysandra to spread. Japanese Stilt Grass ( Microstegium vimineum, also known as Mary’s Grass, although I take no ownership!).

Stilt Grass is an Invasive Annual

Stilt Grass is an invasive annual which thrives in a wide variety of habitats forming dense stands. It came from China in 1919 in packing material. Unfortunately, deer don’t browse Stilt Grass; they choose native plants over it. Thereby further reducing competition for the unwanted grass whose seed remains viable for five or more years. The seeds have incredibly high germination rates even after five or more years! It’s taking over the world and is in its glory this time of year.

Canada Thistle, aka Creeping Thistle, can take over. 

Carol shared a second unwelcome volunteer that stumped me. Thankfully a friend who is an expert on weeds identified it as Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense). “Although it has the Canada name, it is really from the Mediterranean. And “while it’s great for butterflies, it will take over an area,” writes Dennis also of Blairstown. Maybe that’s why it’s also called Creeping Thistle or Field Thistle. Their purple puffball flowers are indeed striking in a field with a display of butterflies dancing above, ironic how beautiful plants can be devastating. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) identifies them as invasive species that crowd out native plants and reduces crop and forage yields for farm animals.

Canada Thistle/ Cirsium arvense, Garden Dilemmas Ask Mary Stone

Canada Thistle/ Cirsium arvense

Hand Pulling is the best option for Stilt Grass & Thistle.

Hand pulling before they go to seed is the best bet for both invaders, but what a chore! You can also use a contact killer on the weeds but keep it away from your pachysandra Carol. I suggest an organic product called Burn Out by St. Gabriel Organics, an alternative to Round-Up. A more robust version called Poison Ivy Defoliant is better for stubborn weeds such as thistle. Go back to where you came from, intruders!

Garden dilemmas? and your favorite Podcast App 

Link to related storiesGardening in the Rain  (makes pulling Japanese Stilt Grass & Thistle easier!)

and Crabby about Crab Grass 

Link for more about Burn Out

Updated 7/15/22

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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