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Friday, February 8, 2013

Garlic Mustard Control Now???

I realize it's February, and we are perhaps on the brink of getting the snow storm that some of us have been wishing for all year (not I!) but if the ground is not snow covered, Monday is supposed to be 50 degree day (in F for those of you Celsius people reading this). 
That is the perfect temperature combined with the perfect time of the year to control Alliaria petiolata or Garlic Mustard.  This invasive is a biennial plant that has a first year leaf that looks like the picture shown here.  Typically this pesky invasive plant out-competes all of our native spring ephemerals because it it said to have allelopathic tendencies (it will emit a chemical into the soil that will inhibit the growth of other plants).  

At the moment, garlic mustard has a greenish tint to it's leaf while the spring ephemerals have not yet started to surface.  You can spray the garlic mustard with a dilute solution of a glyphosate herbicide without fear of harming any of the other native plants.  I realize that there are many people who do not subscribe to using herbicides for invasive control, and I understand and support your decision.  However, for those of you who do choose to use herbicides as part of your invasive management plan, spraying invasives that are green in the winter with a glyphosate based herbicide is a great way to minimize any residual killing of a valuable native plant.  If you do choose to use herbicides, you should be sure to read and understand the label before any application.   It will take longer for the effects of the herbicide to show after you have sprayed the plant, so be patient with the results. 

Two manual methods of control are to actually pull the plant up by its roots in mid to late April when the second year plants are beginning to flower, but before anything sets seed.  The other option is to cut off the flowering heads to prevent it from setting seed, though sometimes this may result in an second sprouting by the flowering head.  It should be noted that if you try the manual pulling method you should think about minimal soil disturbance.  Disturbed soil is an invitation for some other seed to start grown, and unfortunately it is typically an invasive that takes first advantage.  

As a biennial, you need to prevent it from setting seed in order to control the plant which makes it easier to control than some of the invasive perennials, but is still an issue that should be addressed on your property using the method of your choice.  

Invasive plant awareness week begins on March 3, so look for some tips on other invasive species management to appear leading up to that week.  Our Landscape Visionaries team is happy to come out to your property to do an Invasive Species Consultation visit.  Go HERE for more information. 

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