Weeds growing in the middle of plants

Kathy63October 1, 2012

Does anyone have a suggestion of how to deal with weeds growing in the middle of plants? I have some rose bushes, a clematis, salvia and lupine that all have weeds that grow up into the plants area, and all I have been able to do is just keep picking them out or cutting them.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

There are several ways you could deal with this but it would be a lot easier to talk about if you had a picture, not just speculation. And do you know what the weeds are?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:51AM
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I have found that the easiest way to deal with weeds growing in and around plants that you do want isolated is to rake back any loose bark mulch that you have around the plant and, then, cover that area of soil with that fabric "mulch" that you purchase in rolls in garden departments at the big box stores. Line the ground around the plant, after cutting a piece of the fabric mulch to a 20" circle. Then, cut a hole in the center of the 20" fabric circle and a slit from the hole to the outside of the circle so that you can lay in in one piece around the base of the plant on the earth. Then cover it back over with the loose mulch that you originally raked out the way. During growing season, inspect the base of your plant to keep anything from sprouting up the the hole where your plant grows.
Once leaders from unwanted weeds have grown into the center of your desired plants/flowers, the only option is to attempt to pull the weeds by their roots out of the middle of your desired plant. If they are allowed to grow for any amount of time, ridding your plants of weed root systems is not easily accomplished.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:15AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Many of us hate the landscape cloth. Weed seeds land on the surface of the mulch, germinate, and root through the fabric.

It is very important to ID your weeds. Only then, can you formulate an ideal program of control specific to your needs.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Sometimes you have to dig up the good plant to get rid of the bad plant; so you dig up your plant, get the weed out roots and all, and replant the good plant. PITA, truly, but it's better than trying to control the uncontrollable through tearing off the top growth. In the case of the rose, or any shrub, you may have to dig underneath by hand to get at the roots of the weed. If you're careful about it, the shrub will be fine.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:27PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Kathy, hope you're not lost...?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:41AM
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No, I'm not lost. Lol. Thanks purpleinopp! Lol. Just had a busy couple of weeks. I appreciate everyone's suggestions. I'll take some pictures in the spring to post, as I live in Western New York and now it is getting cold and all the plants is getting ready for the winter. I like the idea of using the fabric weed preventer around the bigger plants (large rose bush and clematis) and carefully digging up the smaller plants(salvia) to remove the weed roots. Some of the weeds are grass-like and some are your normal weeds like dandelions or thistle.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hey, glad you made it back!

Unless you want to look at landscape cloth or plastic, you'll probably cover it with some mulch or leaves, in which case it will not prevent weeds from growing on top of it. When that happens, the weed roots can become enmeshed with the fabric and be even harder to remove. It's often necessary to remove the enmeshed fabric at that point to pull a weed out, but you may find the roots of a rosebush or other desirable plant are also enmeshed. It's a bad situation.

For that reason, I would encourage you to smother any areas you can with cardboard or several thicknesses of newspaper, overlapping well, for either. This will decompose and does not get tangled in roots, and can usually be found for free. You can cover this with mulch and/or leaves to hold it in place and to be more visually appealing. That will also moderate moisture that will speed the decomposition process and be beneficial to your plants. Fall is a good time to do this if you get the urge yet this year.

Is there a border separating the planting bed from the lawn? If not, I would urge you to find one you like and make some plans for getting it in. It's moderately heavy work installing a good barrier border but the time saved after doing it is worth it.

If you walk around the yard and check things a couple times a week, pulling any weed sprouts as you go, you should be able to keep them pulled with very little time spent and not develop a problem that needs specific attention. If there is a time when you realize there's "weeding to do" but don't have time, at least cut the plants off at the soil level so they don't make seeds and must expend a lot of energy to grow back. That gives you a break until they threaten to flower again at least.

Taproots can develop alarmingly fast though (especially on dandelions and thistles.) A handy tool called a dandelion fork is an excellent thing to have that makes popping these out easy and almost instant. A long flathead screwdriver can also do the job in a pinch. You can do this in the middle of the lawn without making a big hole or dead spot.

Best of luck to you & look forward to those pics next year!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:42PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If you have weeds such as Elytrigia repens, or Calystegia growing among your roses and Clematis; or Oxalis, for example - you may have to resign yourself to control rather than total eradication. The veriest smidgen left behind will joyously sprout at the first hint of rain and Be Back.

For working among roots and stems in pursuit of tough weeds
you may find that a gardening knife is more effective than a more traditional fork or hand cultivator.

For a grass such as Holcus, which has a tough root system comprised of very fine rootlets which bind into any porous soil, or colonises the surface too effectively - using strong kitchen scissors can be very helpful. It will not meekly give up what it's holding even if you use both hands and stand up to haul.

If you are plagued with buttercups or clover-types then the knife will probably be of most use when you cannot get close enough to dig them out.

Sometimes, if you wait until thistles or dandelions are flabby from summer drought, the tap root comes out more easily than when it is in full and triumphant spring growth.

Dandelions have the habit of forming multiple heads on an ever-thickening stem, if you merely take off part of the 'bud head'. It's worth pursuing the tap root even if the top part has snapped off and looks to be gone.And remember to guard your arms/head while working in the midst of the rose stems. If a weed gives up suddenly you can end up with nasty puncture wounds.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 2:13AM
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