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

Mile-a-Minute Weed

Mile-a-Minute-Weed-closeup

Hello Fellow Readers,

Sarah of Hope, NJ, was shy about providing photos in advance of our Landscape Review and Recommendation meeting. Primarily because she fell behind in her garden maintenance, something I share especially this time of year. Given the amount of rain we’ve had, the weed population has exploded.

“No need to be embarrassed,” I wrote back. “The purpose of my visit is to help create a strategy to attack garden projects that feels overwhelming, including the weeds. Plus, suggest garden enhancements.”

Mile-a-Minute Weed

Mile-a-Minute weed (Persicaria perfoliate) smothering host trees.

What a lovely property Sarah has with a naturalized buffer surrounding a beautiful sloping backyard. Sadly Mile-a-Minute weed (Persicaria perfoliate) is smothering much of it. It’s the first time I’ve seen an invasion of the light green vine that grows as much as six inches a day and twenty-five feet a season. It hangs like thick draperies on trees and shrubs which can kill them quickly as it shades its host from being able to photosynthesize. Folks compare it to the Kudzu dilemma that is suffocating trees in warmer climates.

Mile-a-Minute came by way of transport from eastern Asia in the late 1800s to the 1930s. It first arrived in our neck of the woods in nursery plants delivered to York, PA.

Mile-a-minute-weed-leaf

The almost perfect triangular leaves stand out.

The almost perfect triangular leaves stand out, though the white flowers are insignificant that turn into green berries in mid-July. It’s when the berries ripen to a reflective blue hue when birds and other critters flock, which is how Mile-a-Minute spreads rapidly by way of their excrements. Each plant produces thousands of berries that can remain viable in water for nine days floating merrily down our streams.

The weeds are shallow-rooted and easy to pull, which is better to do sooner than later. Otherwise, it’s hard to get to the origin of the plant, which is the case at Sarah’s invasion. However, I suggested she keep yanking, with thick gloves on to protect her from their prickly parts, until she gets to the roots. The good news is it’s an annual. And, if you don’t allow the berries to ripen, you can stay ahead of dilemma or, in Sarah’s case, begin to gain control of it.

While herbicides may have a place in the eradication, weeding, continually mowing, or allowing your goats and sheep to graze is the most effective. Experimental biological controls are underway introducing a weevil (Rhinocominus latipes) that feed on the plants.

I had to chuckle when I googled remedies of good riddance. A fellow began his video demonstration shooting into a tree being smothered by the vine (NOT a smart idea) before he pulled it out by its roots (GREAT idea). Then he splayed out the trails of vines and sprayed the heck out of it with Round-up. (Talk about OVERKILL.) Hopefully, he wasn’t serious as obviously once you yank it by the roots, the plant is a goner. Just wrap it up and throw it out. If it hasn’t gone to seed, to the compost is fine. Otherwise, a brown bag into the trash is best to quarantine the berries from taking over our world. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com

Is Goldenrod Invasive? I invite you to click through to find out.

 

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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