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  • Writer's picturemelaniekerr

Ground Elder - How to tackle it organically

What is it?

Ground elder, also known as Aegopodium podagraria, is a rapidly growing perennial plant that spreads quickly to create a dense carpet of foliage, outcompeting weaker plants in garden beds and borders.

It propagates through rhizomes, which are creeping, thickened underground stems that function as modified stems. Roots, stems with leaves, and flowers sprout along these rhizomes, capable of regenerating from even a small fragment left in the soil.

Its flowers bear a resemblance to those of the elder tree, despite being unrelated, which is how the weed acquired its name.

How to get rid of it?

Completely eradicating ground elder requires vigilance, as even the smallest piece of root left in the soil can lead to new plant growth.

To remove ground elder, you can either dig it up or cover the area with a thick bark mulch (10-15cm) to deprive the weed of light. It might take a few seasons before the ground elder is entirely eliminated.

Or you could grow Tagete minuta.

While not visually striking, this plant effectively eliminates persistent weeds like ground elder.

It successfully eradicated ground elder in a Perch Hill flowerbed for Sarah Raven. Additionally, its aromatic leaves can be used in herbal teas and salads.

Other uses for Tagete minuta:

The dried leaves serve as a flavorful herb with an apple-like taste and possess medicinal properties. However, be cautious, as the leaves may cause a rash in certain individuals.

Other plants that could are known to help are Acanthus mollis which has large leaves that will shade out the ground elder - known to spread as well - you may end up regretting the acanthus but at least it flowers.

Another option is Geranium nodosum which has a spreading habit and thick spreading root system:

Would love to know if you've had any success getting rid of it organically?

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