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psittacorum out of control!

Posted by honugirl Hawaii (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 29, 09 at 5:39

My patch of psittacorum has taken over more space than I'd like it to have. I have cut all of the stalks down to the ground. Is digging up the rhizomes a waste of time? I want to be rid of them and plant something else. Is this even possible?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: psittacorum out of control!

Aloha Honu!

You got a photo of the patch by chance? I've dug and removed a number of Heliconia and Ginger patches for people over here on Kauai; was alot of work, but I did it eventually, lol. If you want to remove it completely, you're looking at some time and effort that needs to be put into it (if you don't want to use chemicals to kill it off). Someone else probably knows of a better way, which means I wasted alot of time and effort, and should have asked first (20/20 hindsight) But anyway!

I dug an area about 25'x6' free of the yellow parrot Heliconia, and another area about half the size of the orange stuff; took a while, but I got it all eventually.
Took me about a month to finally get everything. The way I did it was to use basically brute force. Hand dug it, used a garden aerator or weeder and just broke the soil up to about a foot down or so, then pulled out and bagged any and all rhizome I came across, no matter how small. Most of the Psittacorum I have found don't have very deep root systems, usually the majority of the roots are in the first foot of soil =/ Maybe those instances were just my own, it may be different elsewhere (maybe it depends on soil compaction and type =S )
Once I dug the first time, I just let the plot of land sit, and sit, and sit, until more baby Heli's popped up, then I knew where I had missed some rhizome! Dug that particular area again, remove the rhizome, dig, rinse, repeat.

All in all I probably put around 10-15 solid hours of time into this project within a months time, so it's not >that< bad (It just seems like it is that bad while you're digging! LoL.)

Hope this helps ya out a little bit! If anyone else knows of another way, please do let us both know....There's always going to be more around, lol.

Take it light, aloha, and happy fourth of July!

RE: psittacorum out of control!

Aloha Garden Isle Dave,
Your response had me laughing!!
After not getting any response on this site, I thought I'd give it a try and start digging. I did this for three hours(!) and I'm quite shocked that I can actually stand today! I dug up quite a pile so I know what you mean about their root system. Thank goodness my patch is small. I have this idea that may work. When the new psittacorum come up (and they will!) I plan to snip off the top and place a drop of weed-killer on it. I'm thinking so long as it doesn't get on the ground the chemical will be contained. No?
Whatever, I know I will never plant these guys in the ground again!
Mahalo for your response!

RE: psittacorum out of control!

Be careful of your weedkiller idea, since the spreading rhizomes are connected to the mother plant. You have the cut-off daughter plant absorbing the chemical, it will be translocated into all plant tissue--including up the rhizomes that leads to the mother plant.

A better way is just to budget some time one or two times a year to dig up small new (spreading) plants so that you maintain that clump size at 3' square or whatever you want.

Psittacorum is the nastiest of the spreading heliconia, others "spread" but they form large clumps, not comparable to the wildfire groundcover-like psittacorum invasiveness.

Here is a link that might be useful: General Heliconia psittacorum info for others interested in this topic

RE: psittacorum out of control!

Lol! Glad it helped ya out a bit =] I agree with Gusolie, it may not contaminate the soil (very much) but it might affect the other plants in the area. Then again, if it does get on the soil, most weed killers are rinsed away or at least diluted by the rain anyway. Not to say it won't affect the plants, but it may not destroy the whole area and create a 10x10 barren wasteland in the center of your yard (or wherever the stand may be) Lol.

We have a HUGE stand of Shell Ginger, that you can't dig out very easily. I planned on removing a large amount of it and cleaning the area out a bit, but after a day, I had one good sized box of rhizome, a huge pile of cut stalks....and like only a 2x2 foot area (probably a little less)'s probably 15' long by 10' wide...Gave up on that one, can't win every fight, lol.

Take care and talk to ya later on,

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