Creeping Charlie, or Ground ivy, is a weed that can be difficult to identify and even more difficult to get rid of. It can be found all over the world, including every region in the United States, and can certainly show up in your lawn or garden.
This plant is not to be mistaken with Creeping Jenny. If you believe you have Creeping Jenny in your garden, please view our post on how to get rid of it.
Creeping Charlie grows quickly and can be difficult to get rid of if you don’t know what it looks like or where it’s coming from. If you have any of these plants growing on your property, there are some steps you should take to get rid of them. This article will discuss what Creeping Charlie is, how to identify it, where it can grow and why you should get rid of these plants!
What Creeping Charlie Is
There are multiple weeds that have been given the name Creeping Charlie. There is the Glechoma hederacea, which is also known as Ground Ivy, Gill-Over-The-Ground, and Alehoof. This is the most common weed associated with the Creeping Charlie moniker, and the one this article will focus on.
However, there is also the Plectranthus verticillatus, or Swedish Ivy, and the Pilea nummulariifolia, that are both called Creeping Charlie as well. Therefore, it is a little tricky to know exactly what plant someone means when they talk about creeping charlie, and it is always pertinent to know that there are other less-common options.
The primary Creeping Charlie weed, Glechoma hederacea, is a perennial, evergreen weed that is a member of the mint family. Because of this, it is also aromatic and has a distinctive smell when pulled or crushed. It is commonly used as a salad green in many different countries, and some people grow it in pots or in their garden. It was even used in the Middle Ages in brewing ale, before the use of hops was widespread.
While Creeping Charlie has many culinary and medicinal applications around the world, in the United States it is a non-native and invasive weed species. It has invaded both wild and cultivated areas, and often chokes out native wildflowers, so it is important to eliminate it from your lawn as soon as you discover it.
How Does Creeping Charlie Grow And Where?
Creeping Charlie prefers moist soil, and it often grows in shady areas or near water sources like ponds or streams. It also is commonly found in grasslands, wooded areas, and waste spaces. However, it can also tolerate sunshine well, so eliminating it is not as simple as providing your garden with more light.
It can be found outdoors in fields, on hillsides, and around homes. It often appears when the soil has been disturbed by foot traffic or landscaping activity, and it grows back after being mowed.
Creeping Charlie is an invasive weed in many areas because it grows quickly and forms dense mats, which may take over lawns and woodlands. It’s also known as an aggressive or invasive plant in regions where it isn’t native.
It mainly produces flowers between April and July. The flowers each contain up to four seeds, and they drop them next to the plant, although ants can potentially bring the seeds further afield. Creeping Charlie can also clone itself by the stem bending over and allowing roots to attach, which is how it creeps outward along the ground. Creeping Charlie spreads rapidly both by seeds and through cloning, so if you notice any patches make sure to remove them as soon as possible!
How You Can Identify Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie grows prostrate along the ground, meaning it basically ‘creeps’ along the ground and grows into a large mat or carpet covering the soil. While it can grow up to 20 inches high, it is almost always found at ground level.
Creeping Charlie is a vine that has green leaves, hairy stems and sometimes purple flowers shaped like trumpets or funnels.
The leaves are rounded at the tip and heart shaped where they attach to the stems. They have round, wavy toothed edges that go all the way around the leaf. The stems have a hairy upper surface and they are usually green mixed with a reddish-brown.
The flowers in creeping charlie look like little purple funnels, and they grow in little clusters of two or three, which appear on opposite sides of the stem.
Ways You Can Kill Creeping Charlie In Your Yard
Now that you know how to identify Creeping Charlie, it’s time to get rid of it. There are a number of ways that you can kill creeping charlie in your yard and garden, and you can use either chemical or organic methods.
If you have a creeping charlie problem on your property, the best and most effective way to eradicate it is with chemical herbicides.
The best way to get rid of creeping charlie is by spraying the area where you see it growing with an herbicide containing glyphosate or triclopyr. You can buy these from a local garden store or home improvement center in the form of liquids, granules that you sprinkle into your yard, or pellets that are sprinkled on top of your soil and then watered in.
These products will work well for killing any other weeds growing alongside creeping Charlie because they are often non-selective. However, with non-selective weed killers you always need to be careful to not spray healthy plants that you want to keep in your lawn and garden.
Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking their ability to produce proteins needed for growth. When applied correctly, it will kill the creeping charlie without hurting anything else nearby.
A great weed killer that uses both glyphosate and triclopyr is RoundUp Poison Ivy Plus Weed Killer. It specializes in killing invasive ivies and vine-based weeds. Another option to use is the Souther Ag Crossbow Herbicide – this uses triclopyr and 2,4-D together.
If you’re looking for a glyphosate based herbicide, this Compare-N-Save Concentrate is an effective option. When using weed killers, practice safe gardening techniques and always read the label and full directions before each use.
As mentioned above, the best way to get rid of creeping charlie is using weed killers. However, if you don’t want to use them, you can try pulling it out by hand. This method is incredibly difficult, as Creeping Charlie is perhaps the hardest weed to eliminate simply through hand pulling. But there are some tricks you can try to have a higher chance of success.
First, trim the leaves and stems of the weed. Then, water the soil and ground that it is rooted in. This will make the roots slide out easier. Loosen the soil with a hoe or pitchfork to expose all of the roots, and then remove as much of them as possible. If you leave even the smallest bit, Creeping Charlie will grow back with little effort.
This process will have to be done many times, and is most effective on a smaller infestation.
Can You Prevent Creeping Charlie from Growing In Your Lawn?
If you want to prevent creeping charlie from returning after removing it, we recommend fertilizing your soil before planting new grass seed so there will be enough nutrients for the plant to grow healthy roots which should help keep weeds away!
Creeping Charlie thrives in moist and heavy soils, so aerating and de-thatching your lawn on a regular basis could keep it at bay. It also reacts negatively to boron, so if you can add a small (almost negligible) and healthy amount of borax to your lawn, then that could help in a fight against this weed. However, boron is also dangerous to many other plants and animals, so be sure to consult an expert before using it.
Creeping Charlie is a weed that has been found in many yards all around the United States. It’s important to identify and get rid of creeping charlie as soon as possibly – it spreads quickly, preventing other plants from growing and clogging up your lawn with its vines.
If you’re noticing an increase in weeds in your yard, do not brush off this problem as it will only get worse over time. However, there is also no need to worry! As we have discussed in this post, there are many ways that you can get rid of creeping Charlie and prevent it from coming back at a later time. Hopefully you will be able to treat your yard in a way that will most benefit you. Good luck!