Lifestyle

Steele: A beautiful but challenging weed

There’s a problematic bluebell blooming in many gardens this month.

The problem is that it’s an unrecognized, fast-spreading, deep-rooted weed.

The Latin name is Campanula rapunculoides. Its deep, underground rhizome necessitates extensive digging to eradicate. Any piece of root will start a new plant. It also spreads by seed.

Because it has a nice stalk of bluebell flowers many people assume it is a garden-worthy perennial.

People moving to an established garden need to check for it carefully and remove any plants immediately to prevent further spreading.

Dispose of them in the yard waste bin. Putting them, or any other invasive-rooting plant, into your compost is likely to cause them to be spread throughout your gardens.

Home composts generally don’t get hot enough to kill invasive roots or weed seeds.

Bluebell weed can come hidden in plants dug up from another person’s garden.

It is important to recognize the leaves.

Early in the season they look somewhat rounded, unlike the long, pointed leaves on the flower stalks.

Both flower and leaf images can be found on the Internet.

If a plant in the garden is contaminated with this bluebell, it is best to put it into the yard waste.

If it is a prized, irreplaceable plant, you can try washing all the soil off the roots and removing all the bluebell roots.

They may be hard to distinguish from the plant’s roots. Keep it in a pot or plant it in an isolated location to grow until you can be sure you eradicated the weed.

This process should be used for any plant that you wish to keep that is contaminated with invasive roots.

Quack grass also has a spreading root system.

It is easier to remove from a plant because it has thin white roots that are easy to pull out from the plant roots and easy to see.

However even a tiny segment will re-grow.

Spring or fall is the best time to do this bare-rooting operation.

Cut the plants back before replanting them as they will not have enough roots to support the top growth.

One exception to this rescue procedure is field bindweed, aka morning glory weed.

It has one inch white flowers right now and has invaded many area gardens.

Discard any plants that have this nightmare weed growing in them.

Keep on the alert for any weeds growing in your plants.

Dandelions and other tap-rooted weeds love to hide and grow big inside plants.

They are much easier to remove when small.

•••

July 31 is the dead-line for the early bird draw for the xeriscape garden contest.

Details and the entry form are at www.okanaganxeriscape.org.

The prize is two cubic meters of Classic Compost, delivered.

Thanks to Dean Dack and Classic Compost for this donation.

The final deadline for the contest, and more chances at prizes, is Aug. 31.

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