Looking for invasive ground cover

strix(z4a MN)February 28, 2005

I have a steep sunny slope that I need to stabilize. It's at my cabin, zone 3, very piney country and poor soil, acidic and often very dry.

I've tried crown vetch, and it has survived but hasn't thrived. Has anyone had a similar challenge, or planted something in a similar soil that became too invasive? (I want invasive!) Should be drought-tolerant as well.

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luv2gro(z3a AB)

Here's a list from Lois/Jim Hole's book - "Perennials - Practical Advice and the Science Behind It" on suggested groundcovers

clematis (species type)
creeping jenny (sun or shade)
elephant ears (sun or shade)
goutweed (sun or shade)
lady's mantle
Solomon's sel

I don't know all of these, but it's a place to start. I have heard that the best way to make an enemy is to give a friend Goutweed!!!! Extremely difficult to get rid of with a root system worse than quack grass. I think its pretty, though.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 5:53PM
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jancarkner(Ottawa CAN)

PLEASE don't plant goutweed anywhere that you can't contain it. Last thing you want to do is introduce an invasive plant to a wild area, which sounds like what you have. I think you're actually looking for a native species that is "assertive" rather than an invasive exotic. What about shrubs or grasses? There are native species that will stabilize your slope better than a shallow rooted perennial will, and they'll thrive because they're native to your area. If you have a state conservation authority, perhaps they could help. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 7:01PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

Good advice, Jan. I read over my post again, and I guess it came off sounding like I was recommending goutweed. I really meant that it NOT be used because it is so invasive. I still think it is pretty, but as I said, not the plant to give to a friend. : )


    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 9:41PM
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strix(z4a MN)

Yes, I shouldn't have chosen the word invasive. Thanks for the advice!
The site below is one of the best resources I have found, but I would still like to hear any success stories.
I'd have to say that, given the site I need to stabilize, I wouldn't worry about even goutweed taking over. I suppose the solution is to plant several flats of a recommended plant and make certain that they get established. I've tried several--vetch, hemerocallis, sedum--in the past few years, but nothing has spread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ground Covers for Rough Sites

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 10:46PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Here are a few I've had that are "assertive":

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) - pretty silver leaves all year and beautiful white flowers in the spring

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) - yellow flowers

You could try virginia creeper also, although I think it prefers semi shade, as in a woodland.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 3:47PM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

I would give that crown vetch a little more time....it is slow to get established under those conditions, but you will likely find that all of a sudden it will take off and form an impenetrable groundcover in the area.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 2:32PM
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gordonf(z8a/Vancouver I)

Have you thought about lamium? I don't know how hardy it is offhand, but it might fit the bill. Also, Bishop's Weed might like it there.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 1:33AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

My lamium is quite aggressive, and spreads quickly throughout the top part of the bush behind me. I have to be careful that it does not choke out the natural plants there. However, it too does take time. Nothing is instant.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 9:12AM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

Bishops weed is just another name for goutweed......and believe me, you do not want that stuff......it's the cancer of the plant world....

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 11:49AM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but my aegopodium (bishop's weed, goutweed,) isn't spreading anywhere. I got it from my MIL about ten years ago. The only thing I can say, is, she knew how to make things behave!! Maybe she tamed it!!

cantstop, who is actually going to fertilize my aegopodium this year.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 10:53PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Don't know about lamium, don't they prefer shade to part shade and moist to average soil?

Virginia creeper might be a good choice. I've seen it used as a ground cover. It would probably root whereever the vine comes into contact with the soil.

By "elephant ears' to they mean bergenia? To me it would take quite a few plants to fill an area in, though as the leaves are evergreen it would probably look quite attractive, especially in bloom time in spring.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 12:58PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

Are there wild blueberries growing in that area by any chance? If so, they could be planted or encouraged to spread there! They like acid soil and are naturally edge-of-woods type plants. Wild blueberries spread by underground rhizomes and can colonize a wide area if they are encouraged by appropriate pruning (e.g. mowing when plants are dormant - early spring or after a hard frost in the fall). It would not be a fast spread but it could be an interesting addition to anything else you might plant there....

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 2:16PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Unless your cabin is really like a summer home, I would think natives is really what you'd want to stay with. Sweet fern(Comptonia peregrina)or Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) would be excellent for your purpose. Both are native to at least the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. Even better, you should be able to get locally native ecotypes if you check out local nurseries. Sweet fern might be more difficult to locate to buy, but both are common wild plants, and you have probably seen them in the woods without knowing it. BTW, Sweet fern is not a fern, nor is Bush honeysuckle a true honeysuckle!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 4:24PM
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leo_prairie_view(2B Manitoba)

I would try a mix of Anemone canadensis and geranium pyrenicum. The anemone spreads under ground and the more I dig out the more I seem to have. The G. pyrenicum seeds all over the place and would give some colour after the anemone stop blooming. It is easy to start from seed.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 9:33PM
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I have just the plant for you coriopses(Ithink that;s how you spell it) I put oneplant in my garden about 5 years ago and it has taken over even though I have transplanted most of the new shoots to a side bank where it is spreading like crazy it grows about 1 ft high and blooms contineously if you keep shearing after bloom

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 2:15PM
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I highly recommend hops.
Had the same type of problem, clay, poor soil, not enough water.
not even goutweed would spread properly..REALLY !
Tryed virginia creeper, and I couldn't stand the aphids,
But hops is maintenance free, and spreads very very quickly.
One root will grow 10 ft the first year and then 20 or thirty feet the second year, unbeleivaebly fast. nice very full vine covers everything.

hope this helps,
P.S I'm in zone 2 if it lives here it will live anywhere !

    Bookmark   March 25, 2005 at 2:08PM
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epona1(z6 Nova Scotia)

I planted a few roots of crown vetch, one year on a very sunny, but very poor soil area--a bank leading to a roadside ditch, actually

They didn't grown, and I forgot about them.

Several years later, I noticed a substantial area, covered with. . .

crown vetch. Don't give up. I now have to cut it back each year.

I have goutweed, and it is a great groundcover, in a contained area, BUT, you have to know you will never ever ever want to grown anything else there. And, neither will anyone else. Ever.

Bugleweed (burgundy leaf, purple flower), is lowgrowing, poorsoil, fast multiplyer, tough as nails. Attractive, not hard to control. Tolerant of different moisture levels.

Beautiful when it all blooms in spikes of purple, in the early summer.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 12:19PM
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strix(z4a MN)

Thank you all for the wide variety of suggestions. I particularly like the hops idea: some neighbo(u)rs of mine have a vigorous patch and I think one can propogate them easily from cuttings.
And Epona, thanks for advising patience on the vetch. I won't disturb the survivors.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2005 at 2:30PM
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zone0bgardener(z0b Labrador)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolia) in a variety like cerise queen or cornation gold might make a good cover, it did well to cover an area in my garden. I look for "invasive" plants too because let's face it, in zone 0b I'm lucky to get anything. My catmint, Nepeta, in both blue and pink, has, like all mints, spread well and is very tough. Neighbourhood cats come and roll in it, but don't damage it! Lupines would look great in spring and early summer and spread well, of course all these are taller than your average groundcover, but will add beautiful colour.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 12:57PM
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I'd first mulch the slope with woodchips to even out the moisture content of the soil. Then, I'd go with low bush blueberries as someone else suggested. You can get a couple of flats of many small ones from Western Maine Nurseries. They have a minimum order of $100 or 100 of one kind as they are a wholesale nursery that will sell to the public. Lowbush blueberries will have nice color in fall and on the new growth and will provide food either for you or for wildlife. They have small whitish flowers in the spring. They are a native plant and will thrive in acid, sandy soil. (They grow in full sun along the edge of the road along with wintergreen and reindeer moss by my house where it's too dry for grass.) They won't need mowing and will grow about a foot tall and will grow together to make a nice carpet. They will be fully hardy for you and you won't need to worry about introducing truly invasive plants to an area where I doubt you'd want them. Like any new plant they would probably need some supplimental watering the first year to get established, but they are quite drought resistant after that.

Here is a link that might be useful: western maine nurseries

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 4:08PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

A thorny shrubby bristly locust (Robinia hispada) 'arnot' is a shrub that suckers with a vengance and does its job (selected specificly for erosion control) all too well

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 10:50PM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

Hi - new to this forum, but I have a suggestion that might work. Clematis tangutica. It's a very hardy (zone 4) clematis vine that grows rapidly every year (despite being cut back to 30 cm in fall) to cover a cedar rail fence I have in my yard. It would be a great groundcover on a slope, too. It flowers in mid to late summer - golden yellow blooms which give it it's other name - Golden Lantern Vine. Flowers are followed by silvery, feathery seed pods in fall and early winter (if you don't cut it back). Easy, easy, easy to grow - even from seed.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 9:52AM
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jancarkner(Ottawa CAN)

Me again ... before planting anything, I suggest you google the plant name along with the word "invasive". Sorry, but I'd say DON'T plant Robinia hispida as the google results show some strong warnings about dangers of it escaping. I have a co-worker who owns acreage where this was planted several decades ago for erosion control, and it is a lifetime job for him to eradicate it now.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 7:25PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

well de did say invasive. atleast its a native ;)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 6:11PM
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janetr(Ottawa USDA 4a)

I don't think goutweed would be particularly aggressive under those conditions, at least not the variegated version. I had it in my garden and had little difficulty keeping it under control. The dryness should keep it tame. I starved mine which kept it pretty submissive. No fertilizer, little sun, water only under severe drought conditions. It would send out little runners, but I'd yank them. I even - gasp! - had goutweed die on me!

Having said that, why don't you cruise around and see what natives grow naturally under those conditions in your area? It seems to me that would be the best bet.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:54AM
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iwoqax(z4 Qbc City)

How about a suckering rose ? If you go with a species such as R. rugosa or R. gallica, they'll eventually send out suckers quite eagerly while remaining controllable. Plus, you'd get the added bonus of flowers (and fragrance, if you choose the right species). R. rugosa is hardy at least to zone 3 while R. gallica is hardy at least to zone 4. Just make sure you get own-root plants if you go with roses

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 2:43AM
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