Mountain Bluet is not everyone’s friend

It’s gardening season and it’s so great to see so many people taking on the joys of growing their own, fresh, healthy foods and planting flowers.

There is however one thing to be aware of as you beautify your yard and your life and that is invasive weeds. These are not the annoying weeds that wander in so quickly once you’ve shoveled out the soil. This are just plants where you don’t want them. One definition of a weed.

I’m talking about weeds that are sold as garden flowers and get passed around by well-meaning neighbours as they “divide their perennials”. Often they used to be and sometimes still are sold at garden centres but we have learned in the meantime that they are a real issue for native habitats. These plants have been imported from other ecosystems and since they have no predators here they are extremely successful. They are also plants that set seeds prolifically, spread with runners and/or will grow from the tiniest of roots left in the ground.

One in particular that is found around Houston is the Mountain Bluet, also know as the perennial Cornflower or perennial bachleor button. There are several places where it is growing in people’s flower gardens in town. This tap rooted beauty sets seed prolifically and the seeds will last in the soil for several years making it hard to get rid of.

Unfortunately, someone either discarded their garden waste or intentionally planted it at the duck pond and it is taking over. In 2015 4 plants were spotted. The following year there was a handful more and in 2018 16 garbage bags were removed by high school students during an invasive weed pull. Last year the Northwest Invasive Plant Council sent representatives to deal with the infestation and it is slowly coming back under control.

According to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council’s article “A New Weed to Watch For” by Christine Friedrichsmeir

“If you have this plant in your garden, or you find it in ditches or elsewhere, dig or pull it up, getting as much of the root system as possible to avoid re-sprouting. If you are unable to dig it up, then at least remove stems and flowerheads before the seeds have set. Bag it and remove it from the site to prevent the production of viable seed. The site will need to be re-treated for several years before the seed bank is used up and there are no more plants.”

Please help us keep our wild places wild. Keep an eye on your garden plants and if they are spreading into the bush stop them or better yet get rid of them all together. Research your plants before you purchase them at www.nwipc.org and report any infestations to them as well.

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