Glechoma hederacea, also known as Creeping Charlie, look stunning– with their vibrant purple-violet flowers, to their elegantly curved kidney shaped leaves– the plant is a sight to behold. Even the minty aromatics wafting through the air is enough to make your heart flutter, but don’t let all of this deceive you. What’s not so great is the fact that these weeds can potentially leave your entire lawn or backyard garden in havoc, completely covering any surface it can cling onto, preventing essential nutrients and sunlight from reaching the plants you wanted to thrive. So though they great for aesthetics, the bottom line is that once they start infesting your yard, it won’t be so pleasant any more.
But What is a Creeping Charlie?
It’s certainly no character from your late night horror movie, but rather a herbaceous perennial plant that is also often referred to as ground ivy. In short, it’s a very common and aggressive weed that can completely overtake your garden. It ultimately thrives in shady patches of soil, but can also grow in direct sunlight if need be. When fully grown, these plants have vibrant green, kidney-shaped leaves with distinctive scalloped ridged lining with a square shaped stem. When flowering, the vibrant purple colored flowers take on the shape of a funnel, often growing in clusters of up to three flowers near the tip of the plant.
In terms of the root structure, creeping charlies have extremely fibrous and branchy roots with many nodes; when attempting to remove the plant, pieces of the root may get left behind, leading to a regrowth of more creeping charlies.
Where do Creeping Charlie Usually Pop Up?
Regionally, these plants are known to be abundant in wooded areas or grasslands with sufficient shade. Since it spreads by seeds, you may find a few ‘creeping up’ on your lawn or backyard, especially under the cool shade of an awning or tree. Lawns are also a great place for these plants to fester because they are quite resistant to both herbicides and the occasional mowing. Like any other weed, they are also more likely to appear in lawns that are not properly maintained, which includes using infrequent or flat out improper watering and fertilizing practices. Lawns that have dying or already dead grass is also extremely likely to allow creeping charlies to grow.
Uses for Some Creeping Charlie
Though these plants can be a pain when you’re gardening, there are in fact some uses for these plants. The following are a few of these uses you can attempt.
- Culinary use: not only do these plants give off minty aroma when crushed up, but also give a slightly bitter taste that pairs perfectly with green vegetables or fruits in a salad of your choice. The leaves can also be cooked up and added in soups for a slight peak of flavor. In the past, the crushed leaves were also added in to beer to give it a smoother, more enriching taste than having the beer on its own.
- Medicinal use: the leaves can be boiled and used in the form of a tea and has a plethora of medicinal benefits that include, but not limited to: improved digestive performance, a stimulant for the immune system to better handle sickness, an anti-cancer agent, and a very powerful antioxidant. In line with reducing illnesses, the plant is also high in Vitamin C.
- Ground cover: If you’re able to properly control the growth of this plant, it can also be used as turfing to cover patches of soil that are depleted of nutrients to the point that no other plant can grow there.
- Aesthetics: as mentioned previously, the flowers on these plants look elegant and definitely give a nice touch with their bursts of blue and purple. If the growth of these plants can be limited to a flowering pot or some other container that can curb the growth, then these plants can definitively be used to brighten up the atmosphere of your home.
Controlling Creeping Charlie
If your garden is constantly being overrun by creeping charlie, it may be time to put into effect some preventative measures. The following are a few quick and easy ways to ensure you lawn is weed free for a long time.
Maintain your lawn: as mentioned previously, a healthy lawn is a protected lawn. If you’re using too little or excessive amounts of fertilizer, you could be damaging the integrity and overall health of your lawn, making it susceptible to weed growth. Also, allowing your soil to be extremely moist for extended periods of time can also lead to growths. Improving drainage, using proper amounts of fertilizer, and clearing up any dead or dying greenery can drastically improve the overall quality of your lawn and thereby prevent creeping charlie from coming in.
Dig them out by hand: if you prefer not to use chemicals or herbicides to kill the plant, you can try to pull them out by hand. However, be sure that no roots are left in the soil, as the nodes can quickly lead to a reemergence of growths. This is the same reason why a rake or other device shouldn’t be used on living creeping charlie plants, as the dislodged roots will remain in the soil without you knowing.
Use pots or other containers: if you do decide to keep a few creeping charlies for some alternative uses, it’s best to grow them indoors next to window where the sunlight can come in. Restricting soil and preventing the plant from being in a shaded area can help you better control the growth patterns of this plant.
Creeping Charlie can be as pesky as you let it to be, but through efficient control measures and proper maintenance of your lawn, you can easily control their growth. And if you opt to not kill them, you can pluck them out and use them in a wide assortment of ways ranging from cooking and garnishing to concocting your own herbal medicines with bountiful, beneficial health effects. Regardless of what you do with Creeping Charlie, do expect them to creep up on your lawn from time to time; however, there is a lot you can do to prevent them quickly.