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Why Your Weeding Might Not Be Working…Mugwort and More

Categories:Environmental & Garden Problems Garden Questions

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I pulled the weeds in the photo above today…actually, I dug them up, as pulling  the top growth of common mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) without getting the rhizomes merely encourages more growth.

Common mugwort invaded a small area of one bed, and we have fought it for a couple of growing seasons.  This fall/winter (the true gardening season in my garden) I removed the desirable plants, removed/replaced the soil, and am keeping an eagle eye for the mugwort.  Eagle eye or not, we will lose skirmishes, battles even, but with care, it is possible to win the war on common mugwort.

In almost all cases, it is a very good habit to remove the root of the plant you intend to banish from the garden.  Regarding common mugwort, you have two choices, both with drawbacks:

  1. Dig the entire area out to get at the common mugwort. If possible actually remove soil and replace it.  This is hardly feasible for most gardeners, but an alternative is to remove selected spadefuls where you see the mugwort, followed by more spadefuls as needed.  Try to lift the entire plant system out, much as if you are lifting a plant to transplant.  There is no question some will be left behind, but keep at it. Pulling the mugwort top growth out, even in recently disturbed soil, will not do; the stem will break, leaving the mugwort behind.  Drawbacks are that this battle will most likely go on a while (hopefully weeks, probably months, and for some, years).  In addition, turning soil may actually encourage more growth, as common mugwort is an opportunist, favoring disturbed areas.
  2. Kill the mugwort with Roundup.  If the infestation of mugwort (or other weed) is relatively small or if the mugwort has intwined itself with other plants as it is want to do, then actually sponging or painting or daubing the Roundup on individual leaves is the answer.  Drastic, yes, and Roundup, being non-specific, will kill most every plant it touches.  More, there are concerns about Roundup and human health.  I use Roundup, sparingly, perhaps once every year or two.  I would rather dig the problem out.

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