Getting rid of masses of Prairie Trillium??

amygoApril 23, 2008

My backyard lawn has been taken over by Prairie trillium. We had a new home built, and last year had the overgrown/weedy backyard cleared and seeded. Grass came up nicely last year. Now, in a matter of days, it has prairie trillium all over and we don't know what to do about it. There are alot of trees and shade, but a nice large area in the middle for the lawn, which we want to keep. How can we get rid of this hopefully without having to start from scratch? Any help or advice is greatly appreciated!!


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Wish I had your problem(make that: GOOD FORTUNE)!
You have one of nature's most treasured and sought after wildflowers.
If you don't want to relocate them to your woodlands and none of your family, neighbors or gardening friends want them, I would suggest you contact the nearest Chapter of the Illinois Native Plant Society, link below. They can possibly arrange to remove them, with minimal damage to your lawn.
Please don't destroy them or cut off the stems!
You have one of our American Treasures!

Here is a link that might be useful: Illinois Native Plant Society/Chapters

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:37AM
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Yep, people will be willing to take them off your hands. Someone was selling them at a native plant sale this weekend in Georgia for $10 each (of course they are less common here, but even the common trilliums were selling for $8).

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 6:33AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Where are you? I'm near Peoria. I'd love to take a mass of Trillium.

The trilliums are ephemeral. They come up early, bloom early and then go dormant. In a month or two, you probably wouldn't know where they were.

You could consider them part of your landscape, similar to they way some people scatter daffodils or a tulips throughout their yard, for some spring growth.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:42AM
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I think I will re-phrase my question, because I really had no idea about these plants. I do have alot of the trillium coming up in my woodland area and I like that, the problem is how much seems to be overtaking the lawn. So, if they are starting to bloom now, they will eventually go dormant for the rest of the summer? Is that correct? I have also noticed the few that I picked are single leave/stem with a bulb on the end - if I transplant, is there any other way to do it besides individually? Because I would say I have thousands in my yard!! Or, bear with me as I ramble, but any suggestions on how to co-exist with a lawn?

Thanks all to responding! I don't want to mess with a good thing, I just want to make it work within the landscape of a yard, as well as plenty of woodland space.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:17AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

So, if they are starting to bloom now, they will eventually go dormant for the rest of the summer? Is that correct?


if I transplant, is there any other way to do it besides individually?

You can dig up a clump rather than individual. But then you are disturbing more of the lawn.

I think they could coexist with the lawn. I also think that as your "lawn" becomes more established, the trilliums will be less likely to spread. New lawns tend to be thin... in a few years the turf will thicken making it harder for the trillium to spread.

If you want to get rid of them, you could probably just mow them and eventually they will not be able to survive the mowing. :-(

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:26AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Or you send me an email at

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Please excuse the stupid question...I only ask because I recently mis-identified what I thought was some trillium in my woods; but are you sure this is trillium? There are several plants that look similar. It seems a bit strange that you had that area "cleared and seeded" and that suddenly there's trillium everywhere (not that it can't happen; you may have just cleared out the sunblock above it). A picture in here or the Name That Plant forum will confirm it immediately--they know their stuff on GardenWeb!

By that way, I hope I'm wrong in this misgiving and that you do have such a wonderful mass of trillium! would be a true gift from mother Nature.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 1:55PM
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Not a stupid question at all! I didn't know what it was so I sent some pictures to the Morton Arboretum - they identified it and had the same response - don't kill it and enjoy it!! Once I had a name, I researched more and found pictures on line - it is exactly what is in my lawn and woodland areas. Perfect in the woodland areas, but not the lawn. I also walked through some of my neighbors backyards (we all have lots of trees in the back, some along the sides, but no major barriers) and noticed that everyone seems to have patches of trillium as well. Not as much as my backyard, but quite a bit. I had no idea what a treasure it is apparently!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 2:43PM
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Don't be afraid to have a "freedom lawn" that grows a little wild. :-)

(I'm actually trying to destroy what's left of my lawn, but then I don't really have a use for it.)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 6:30PM
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Since trilliums have rhizomes with contractile roots, they can "pull" themselves down quite a bit into the soil. We are currently working a rescue that was bulldozed two years ago, and there are plenty of trillium returning, along with bloodroot, Solomon's seal, and only a few may apple. Mother Nature works hard at preserving herself; too bad we are intent on shaping her to our idea of beauty. Please allow someone to rescue these plants or transplant them to your wooded area.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:33PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Actually in Illinois, its quite common for woody areas cleared of a dense canopy to bloom with natives. The bulb type plants would definitely survive the clearing. I wouldn't be surprised if the soil hasn't been too disturbed that other woodland natives that are in the woods, would start to show up in the lawn also.

We encourage woodland homeowners in central illinois, to open up the canopy, to encourage understory growth which helps reduce erosion. Erosion is a big problem in alluvial soils here.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 9:47AM
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To answer your original question I doubt if the trillium will survive as you mow your lawn. If the green is removed before they go dormant the bulb will not have gotten the nutrients it needs for next years growth. They go dormant sooner the sunnier your yard. I am going to guess your grass is not as shaded as the woods. If you want to maintain/establish your lawn I don't see how they could be removed. With the amount it sounds like you have it would tear up your lawn to dig them all out. I would enjoy your gift this year and not worry about them. I doubt they will return or over take your lawn.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 5:44AM
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I have thousands of prairie trillium in my woods, and they crop up in the lawn nearby every year. I generally mow around the biggest, sometimes scavenge a few with a trowel and find them a home in an area not yet re-naturalized. I mow over a lot, though, and they disappear as the season wears on.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 11:51AM
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karen_b(6a s.c. PA)

Gees! dbc3 that is what is in my front woods and this was the first time they "bloomed"...they were so beautiful I even drug my DH out to see them. Does what you all are saying mean they won't come back next year since the deer or dogs pulled the leaves and stems from the ground?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 3:14PM
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They might come back. Some of the ones in my lawn come back every year. I mow around until they have run their course, then just mulch up the dead stems. But some of them get stepped on or otherwise damaged (too close with the mower, usually - hit with a wheel or something) and still come back. I expect that several years of such abuse would discourage them though. I moved some this spring to a new area - just used a trowel, got deep enough to get the rhizome and some roots - put them under a maple tree in the front yard where it is all chips. They withstood moving just fine; I expect several "colonies" next year. I just put some woods dirt in the hole in the lawn and threw some seed on it. It will probably grom more woodland plants though!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 9:43PM
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Amy, I have some rooted Angel trumpet (brugmansia), I would love to trade for your unwanted trillium. email me, thanks.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 3:35AM
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I live in Michigan and in our state these lovely flowers are listed by the USDA as being in the "Threatened" status.
Anyone reading this post should check their state's list of endangered and Threatened plants before removing anything.
Please visit this site and type in the plant or flower you are wondering about in the Search. Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:58AM
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