Springtime nemeses

I was originally going to write about my main springtime garden nemesis (violets), but as I started photographing I realized that there are more than one, and violets are probably not even at the top of the list.

So let's take a look at three of the worst, starting with what I just call "wild strawberries".


The only "good" thing about this weed -- which produces pea-sized fruits at best -- is that it starts growing very early in the spring, so is quite easy to spot while everything else is still brown.

It's everywhere too, spreading by runners, quickly taking over large patches of lawn and garden beds.

I don't typically worry about it in the lawn or under larger plants. This cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) pictured above will soon be towering over everything in this back corner of the garden, so I don't worry about a groundcover weed back here.

I do pull as much of this out of the beds (and around their edges) as I can. Actually I'm behind this year -- I'd usually do this in late February or so, but this was not a good year for late winter gardening.

Next up is the violets, (Viola sororia and/or Viola pratincola):

They don't start growing as early as the strawberries, but they are pretty early. This is the best time to get rid of their fleshy rhizomes, which can become surprisingly large after a few years.

They flower early, and drop thousands of tiny seeds. Each plant is surrounded by a ring of seedlings every year, I can never eradicate them all.

Finally, these little guys:

Which actually become bigger guys quite quickly.

The bush honeysuckle (probably Lonicera maackii) is perhaps the most onerous invasive species in Missouri. It leafs out before native plants and holds its leaves longer, shading out other species.

Plants spread by berries, and like the strawberries and violets, early spring is the best time to spot these so they can be pulled when tiny.

If you wait...

...you eventually get 15' (4.5m) monsters that you'll have to deal with.

So I guess the bush honeysuckle tops my list of springtime nemeses.

What are you dealing with this spring?


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Kris Peterson  – (April 8, 2014 at 12:40 PM)  

I have the violets and the wild stawberries too but my biggest "pests" are Mimosa seedlings (Albizia julibrisson), Geranium incanum (pretty in flower but it spreads everywhere), Centranthus (ditto), and Santa Barbara daisy. Given their invasive proclivities, it drives me crazy that all of these are sold in local nurseries.

Anonymous –   – (April 8, 2014 at 6:45 PM)  

It's the invasion of the violets & wild strawberry here in Virginia. English ivy is a year-round pest :)

Lisa  – (April 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM)  

My nemesis is something that I have been told is ragweed, although ragweed is supposed to flower and this particular one never does. I actually BOUGHT the thing at a local nursery - I was told it was some kind of perennial wild geranium, which sounded lovely and interesting. That was in my early, naive gardening days. I have since learned to put nothing in the ground that I am not absolutely sure of. I had to completely uproot one 12 x 20 foot flower bed to get rid of the stuff. I dug up a pile of runners that took me several days to burn... And yet, to this day, every now and then I still spot a tiny leaf poking it's nasty head out of the ground... GAH!

Kathy G  – (April 8, 2014 at 9:26 PM)  

In addition to violets I have a problem with chickweed and deadnettle. I'm also trying to eradicate ground cover vinca from one of the beds in the back yard.

baerevolve  – (April 9, 2014 at 1:29 AM)  

honeysuckle is everywhere in my yard, I'm losing the battle... sigh lol its the worst by far

Alan  – (April 9, 2014 at 10:22 AM)  

Misery loves company I guess -- we're all battling the same foes it seems! :)

I've been able to keep my own ivy and vinca in check, but I imagine that once they escape they'd be a nightmare!

Can't somebody raise rabbits on an all-violet and strawberry diet so that's all they know to eat? That would be quite helpful. :)

Reuben Cozmyer  – (April 17, 2014 at 3:04 PM)  

Any advice for taking care of the wild strawberries in the yard? There's just so much of it that I could never pull it all out. Any recommendations on sprays or the like?

Alan  – (April 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM)  

Reuben: I think they're quite easy to kill with regular weedkiller -- unlike the violets that need a special type. I haven't sprayed weed killer on strawberries for years though, as I've sort of given up. I just pull them from out of the beds and let them fight it out in the lawn with the others.

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