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Invasive bulb in my lawn

Posted by nan2263 6 (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 15, 09 at 8:27

Sorry if this seems long-winded, but I'm new here. I have an unknown bulb-root plant infesting my lawn. It is clumps of tall, very thin, round shoots, which comes up early March and grows much taller than the grass - about 6 inches. When I dig deep and pull out the clump there are tons of tiny, tiny bulbs surrounding the larger ones. It doesn't smell like onion (which I thought it might be - it looks like chive). Most clumps don't bloom, but when it does it's a very small white flower hidden in the clump of shoots. I think the previous homeowner planted it, but it spread super-fast, took over part of the yard and killed the grass. It was so bad that last year I had the entire lawn taken out and replaced, but the landscaper simply managed to spread the bulbs around more. My garden center says it's Scilla, but from photos I've seen I don't think it is. Does anyone know what this is and how I can get RID of it? I've pulled up the large clumps but there are hundreds of single strands throughout the rest of the lawn.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

Sounds like Ornithogalum umbellatum "Star of Bethlehem"

googling "how to get rid of ornithogalum in lawn"

Here is a link that might be useful: advice from Fine Gardening Mag.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

You have Ornithogalum umbellatum "Star of Bethlehem" for sure!

The link provided above says it can be killed by synthetic herbicides, such as products containing glyphosate, (Round-up) but they are very sadly mistaken. I have had them for years, and done a lot of reading about them and tried many things and there is absolutely nothing available to the homeowner on the market.

It was so bad that last year I had the entire lawn taken out and replaced, but the landscaper simply managed to spread the bulbs around more.
I definitely know and understand what you mean by that. Instead of having hundreds and hundreds of clumps containing maybe 100 or so bulbs and bulblets, you now have thousands and thousands of individual bulbs, or at least thousands of much smaller clumps.

Here is more I wrote about it, and the thread also has some links and some pics of mine...on down in the replies)

3/9/09 Question of the week....Do you have a garden thug, or multiple garden thugs?

Taken from the link below:
Paraquat provided 70 to 78% control at one year after the 2002 application. Plots which had received glyphosate or 2,4-D applications had less than 29% control one year after spring application. When compared to the non-treated plot (6,248 bulbs per 10.8 foot squared) the paraquat treated plots had 88% less bulb density. The use of 2,4-D resulted in an increase of bulbs. Growth regulators do not appear to be effective in controlling star-of-Bethlehem. So, at this point in the season, use of paraquat would be the recommended practice for control of this weed.

Paraquat requires a license for purchase and use. If it is that bad, I don't want it sprayed on my yard, or property anywhere due to my doggies and me being a cancer survivor.

Instead I will just be out there off and on from late Feb with the first spring thaw, until late May, when the last of the foliage is visible if left unmowed. Sometimes late in the spring season, I will spray an area (with heavy duty glysophate) I have been working on (digging them out of), and then after everything browns out, the green from the star of beth can easily be seen.

Whew...I really did not mean to go off on a Star Of Beth rant here today.

Sue

It is like this on most parts of the property. The pics are clickable to make them bigger.
Star of Bethlehem infested soil

A look out over the front yard. You can't call it a lawn, as very little grass will grow there due to the star of beth. All the green 'spots' are clumps containing maybe 100 or so bulbs and bulblets.
Dark green blotches are Star of Beth

Here is a new bed area I have been working on since late Feb this year. Hopefully it will be fairly bulb free once I decide to call it quits on digging bulbs and take the tiller to it to disturb and amend the soil. I know there will still be lots of bulbs missed but hopefully I can work at digging those few out in the springs to come.

Proposed new bed spring 2009

Here is a link that might be useful: Purdue University article....PDF File


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

This is very scary! Chemocurl, did you have the Star of Bethlehem already in your lawn or did it seed there from your flower beds? I have some growing in one of my beds and, after seeing this, I am inclined to dig them out right now, rather than risk them invading the grass!


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

Chemocurl, did you have the Star of Bethlehem already in your lawn or did it seed there from your flower beds?
When I had the house built about 20 years ago, a lot of fill dirt was needed due to the lay of the land. The builder got 65 dump truck loads (I understood him to say)of dirt out of the field. The field is infested with the bulbs, so that is how they got introduced into my sunny areas. My yard drops off into the front yard woods and the bulbs are only around the very edges. I work each spring at digging some out around those edges. The house site here was initially all pretty wooded, thus star of beth free, until the soil was moved in.

I am inclined to dig them out right now, rather than risk them invading the grass!
I would dig them out right now and destroy them, before they bloom and there is a chance of them maybe dropping seed anywhere. I know of a GW member in OH who has them infesting her property.

The Purdue article linked above says Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) is becoming a problem in no-till fields in southern-Indiana.

My field is absolutely green with them each spring.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

A genuine "Thank you" all for your replies - my nemesis now has a name, but the grim prognosis is a quite depressing!

I'm so upset about the landscaper spreading them to what was once a totally weed-free part of the lawn. Do you think frequent mowing and re-seeding a few times a season with hardy grass seed will perhaps choke them out? It's literally impossible to dig out those single strands and I know they will just multiply. I don't mind weeding but I've got several flower beds, flower boxes, and a vegetable garden that need tending - the lawn was supposed to be the "carefree" part of the yard!

I can't use pesticides on the lawn because I have a cat who likes to "graze" on grass (but seems smart enough to never eat the Star-Of-Bethlehem). The same garden center that incorrectly told me it was Scilla also recommended that I pour a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar into the deep holes that I dig the clumps out of - that the acidity would kill any little bulbs left behind. I feel like an idiot doing it, but I'm desperate. The worst that could happen is that I've wasted money filing holes with a homemade salad dressing!

I use a bulb planter to dig down deep enough to get at the bulbs, so my yard looks like a demented putting green. And there I am pouring "salad dressing" down the holes; my neighbors already thought I was nuts, so I guess this just confirms it. This weekend after I've given the soggy holes some time to simmer and exposed the dirt to the air for a few days I'll fill in the 30-40 holes with some fresh soil and re-seed.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

Do you think frequent mowing and re-seeding a few times a season with hardy grass seed will perhaps choke them out?
No, nothing will choke out that bulb. I could show you some amazing pics...sometime later, like where it forced itself up through the blacktop drive that was put in the previous fall.

What you 'might' consider doing, is solarizing the soil in the very hottest part of the summer, for maybe 6 weeks, and hope that it maybe bakes the bulbs. Clear plastic I've read, will warm up more underneath than black plastic. You could try a section of the lawn this summer, and then reseed that portion this fall, and see what the spring might bring.

The link below tells how to solarize the soil.

The same garden center that incorrectly told me it was Scilla also recommended that I pour a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar into the deep holes that I dig the clumps out of - that the acidity would kill any little bulbs left behind.
What I do, is dig on my hands and knees and am careful to get additional soil with the clump of bulbs, and check to see if there is any green foliage around the sides of the hole. I doubt if your salad dressing is really doing anything except wasting your time and $$.

I use a bulb planter to dig down deep enough to get at the bulbs, so my yard looks like a demented putting green.
Mine looks more like a battle field, and am just thankful for the beds I have that are bulb free.

On one bed I made, I dug it out to a depth of about 6 inches, and then brought in good woods dirt that was bulb free.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Solarize Soil


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

There is no way to get rid of these small bulbs that I know of. Solarizing the soil might work. That is the one thing I haven't tried as yet. Thank the Lord you don't have them in a flower bed. I have one bed that looks like green grass every spring. I dig out 5 gallon buckets full every spring. I would try solorization in this bed, but it is full of tree peonies that I don't want to dig. I might add I'm 75 years old and tired of trying to get rid of these bulbs. If I was younger, I would move!!! Incidentally the reference to Fine Gardening is my question to them several years ago. I knew the minute I saw the answer they didn't have a clue what they were talking about. Round-Up has no effect on them whatsoever, nor anything else . I have tried it all. Let me know if anyone finds a cure. I even go to the neighbors and pick all the flowers on the ones that have crept into their yard, so they won't go to seed.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

And I thought Allium triquetra was a Monster!

It might not work...I know I've killed off Ornithogalum thyrsoides by putting pine bark mulch over the top. (Of course it died! I wanted those bulbs there!!!)

Again from thyrsoides: it produces zillions of bulbils at the base of the flower stems toward the end of summer. Never mind the seeds. It would take just one foraging blackbird to kick them far and wide once the leaves have died down.

I'm just wondering: apart from the ones I buy, my garden is Oxalis-friendly and I have about six 'unofficial' and decidedly invasive species - with and without bulbs.
What I know for sure is - there is a definite annual window of opportunity to dig them out before they've produced their bulbils for the season. When the root has gone from that bulb form to the long semi-translucent carrot is when the bulbils are still firmly attached to momma and it's safe-ish to remove them without spilling.

Solarising might disuade them but - some of the Ornithogalums can rest in drought conditions for two years or more - and that's in dust dry. Then they'll come up after rain. Some of the offsets may not have produced leaves yet and be largely unaffected.
Still, if it just reduces the density of the infestation that would be a relief and a touch of hope.

Deepest sympathy to all of you coping with this wretched garden thug.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

It might not work...I know I've killed off Ornithogalum thyrsoides by putting pine bark mulch over the top.
I had some tree trimmers bring me some chippings. They were in a huge pile, sloping down in all sides.

The star of beth came up around the edges of the pile, where the chips were 12 inches deep.

Solarising might disuade them but - some of the Ornithogalums can rest in drought conditions for two years or more - and that's in dust dry.
Well, there really would be no way of knowing for sure until the spring thaw, which this year was in early Feb. Then they can first be seen emerging. Shortly thereafter one would know for sure whether or not the solarizing worked. I wonder if I should water the area before putting the plastic down...would they bake best in moist or dry soil. I think I'll stop by the Soil Forum and talk solarization with them.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

Fifteen years ago when I first moved to this house, I found a few of these charming little flowers blooming here & there in my yard. Remembered them from my childhood, my mom called them dew drops. I loved them & dug a few to put in my flower beds. Now I dig out clumps every year. I still like them, & so far I've been able to keep them somewhat controlled, but that is because so far they are staying in clumps. If they start scattering I'll be in real trouble.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

ngraham, you are in real trouble now and just don't know it! If there was a market for these bulbs, I could pay off the national debt. If I were you, I would start to dig now and never let up. When you see one, dig it out then. By the way, mine came to me from a little old lady who was so sweet and shared some plants with me. I didn't know she was giving me the worst pest known to man. I would rather have nut grass or bindweed.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

I have these too.... Round-up wont work? how about "injecting" round-up into the lawn, like going down about 5" ??? would that do anything?


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

Round-up wont work?
No, not really. Please see the link I posted above to the Purdue University article.


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RE: Invasive bulb in my lawn

After looking at those pictures? Whoaaa!


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