Gardeners' World: Monty details how to weed a wildflower patch
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Bittercress is often introduced unwittingly into British gardens and can be very hard to eliminate. There are different types of bittercress: hairy bittercress, an annual species, and wavy bittercress, a biennial or perennial plant. The former often grows on bare ground, the path and walls, while the latter is common in moist, shady areas, such as beside streams.
Bittercress is a common weed found in many gardens across the UK.
The weed reproduces and grows continuously by its seedpods firing and covering large areas when the flowering process takes place.
This enables bittercress to spread across large parts of your garden very quickly without you realising.
Left unchecked bittercress can infest your whole garden.
Bittercress completes its lifecycle in three to four weeks – during which time it can disperse thousands of seeds.
All of these can germinate to release their own seeds in quick succession.
Bittercress can be introduced as a seed, seedlings or as plants in the compost when you buy new plants from garden centres.
The plants can spread from neighbouring gardens, remain dormant at depth in the soil to be brought to the surface by cultivation and are also able to overwinter.
How to get rid of bittercress
This weed can spread to freshly cultivated ground in borders, pots, paving, walls and vegetable plots.
The pesky weed is small enough to hide among your landscape plants.
The extensive seed expulsion means one or two weeds can spread through your whole garden quickly in spring.
Early control is the best way to tackle the spread of this invasive weed.
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You should attempt to remove young plants before they are able to flower and set seed.
Pull them out individually by hand or hoe young seedlings and remove them from the soil surface.
Take steps to avoid deep cultivation which brings up new seeds.
Apply a mulch to the surface after weeding to prevent further germination.
You can also attempt chemical control methods such as using weedkiller.
Weedkillers should be sprayed on seedlings and young plants before they grow and have the opportunity to flower.
With heavier infections, you should apply a herbicide glyphosate weedkiller – making sure to let the weed reach the flowering stage before application.
When you use glyphosate, you should take care to avoid leaves and other green parts of all plants as it is not selective in action.
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