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pinksand
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Getting rid of vinca

Our garden has some clusters of variegated vinca that the previous owners took great care in controlling. However, I'd like to avoid the never ending battle to keep it at bay and was inspired by the responses to the thread "Transplanting ground cover" to get rid of it all together! I'd love to replace it with some cardinal flowers next Spring, or something fun that will attract some hummingbirds :) The vinca isn't currently being used as a ground cover so it's pretty useless besides being invasive and constantly sending out roots wherever it touches the ground.

The plants that I have are well established, so I'm a bit concerned about getting rid of them entirely. What do you suggest?

Another thing I was considering, and please tell me if this is a terrible idea, is waiting until Spring to rip it out and planting some of it in my railing planter boxes as the "spiller" to my "thriller and filler."
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rainbowgardener
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I don't know about terrible idea, but vinca does spread by seeds as well as by rhizomes and rooting stems. So putting it in your window box does not necessarily contain it. Flower-of-death!

I really do hate that stuff. My Quaker Meeting (church) has a about three acres of woods with it. Someone a long time ago planted pretty periwinkles around some trees. Now the whole woods is infested with it, most of the wildflowers that used to be there have been choked out and it climbs small trees and smothers/chokes them, so it makes it hard for the big trees to be replaced. Just in the past few years we took on the project of trying to rescue our little woods from all the invasives (we have Japanese honeysuckle shrub and English ivy too). With a group of us putting in some hours every month (except hard winter) for 4-5 years now, we have made big progress, but it is clear it is a never ending task. We will NEVER get to where we can just sit back and let the woods take care of itself...

Getting it out, unless you want to just poison the ground with Round-Up or something, will take patience and persistence. Work on it after a rain or watering so the ground is soft and just keep tracing and pulling runners. You will never get all of it that way, but if you keep coming back and pulling more when it reappears, eventually you will get it.

If it is somewhere that you can mow, keeping the patch mowed for a while (like regularly all season) controls it pretty well and eventually it gives up.
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rainbowgardener
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Right after I wrote that post, I left for another one of our woods work days. Spent a couple hours planting two trees. For each tree, that involved making a 6 foot diameter clearing, cutting back honeysuckle shrub that had regrown from stumps and digging out all the vines, vinca and ivy, then digging a large hole and planting the tree. I planted a hackberry and a black maple.

It is encouraging that some of the native stuff is starting to come back on its own. When I cut down all the vines and honeysuckle in one of the spots, I discovered a one foot tall baby buckeye tree that had planted itself. Course, if I weren't cutting back all the invasives, it would not have survived to become tree. But another couple seasons of that and it will be tall enough to survive.

Every sapling tree we planted (these were good sized specimens about 4 feet tall) we put in a 5' tall cages of heavy wire, to try to keep the deer from eating them. Saplings we have planted in the past just got eaten by the deer...
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pinksand
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What a nice surprise to find a baby buckeye transplant! Discoveries like that are so rewarding :)

Well you've certainly convinced me to rip it out before it gets too out of control ;) I'll have to pop out there after the next rain and work on pulling out what I can. It's crazy how well they've kept it contained actually, but I haven't been on top of it so it is starting to spread a bit. Hopefully, like you said, one day it just won't pop up anymore if I just keep pulling it. Unfortunately in both places it's in the middle of the garden on a slope so mowing won't be possible. Ripping it up will be fairly satisfying though... good therapy after a frustrating day at work! Should I try to cover the soil where I rip it out with newspaper or cardboard or is that pointless with this stuff?
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rainbowgardener
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Yeah covering the soil, until you get something replanted there, is always a good idea (keeps it from washing away in the rain, etc) and will slow the vinca down, though not guaranteed to kill it.

Yes, working on saving our little woods has been very rewarding. One place where we cleared all the vines away from a big tree (to keep them from smothering the tree), the next spring a mayapple popped up next to the tree! How long had that been dormant in the soil waiting for a chance?
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Ok so I didn't wait for rain... I ripped it up!!! I pulled every creeping stem, but couldn't pull up anything from the central plant. I cut it back to the ground and then got out the shovel and dug up what I could of the root. Now I have two big holes in my garden. Unfortunately my husband recycled the last of our moving boxes so I didn't have any cardboard :( I filled the holes with leaves for now.

Only one problem... my neighbors had someone plow down the massive tangle of weeds from their garden. There were millions of poke weeds and prickly vines. I was in heaven looking out and seeing it all gone! EXCEPT, look what was underneath it all...

Solid vinca!!!!
[img]https://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z379/pinksand11/DSC00340.jpg[/img]

Here you can see my property line and where the vinca is encroaching. The Rose of Sharon (currently twiggy bushes) mark where our property begins.
[img]https://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z379/pinksand11/DSC00339.jpg[/img]

I'm so glad I ripped the vinca out from my other garden while it was under control, because this is going to keep me plenty busy!
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rainbowgardener
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To start with, if you can I would put an edging barrier between their property (vinca) and yours. It doesn't need to be very tall, 6-8", but the same amount deep under the ground. That will help slow the vinca down from crossing the line.

Incidentally, I hate to break it to you, but your Rose of Sharon is also an invasive exotic:

https://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/rose-of-sharon.pdf

It is slower to spread, especially when little, but once established it will send up shoots all over your yard AND reproduce by seed. My neighbor and I have a shared driveway. She has a purple RoS on her side of the driveway and I had a white one on my side. I say had, because mine is now a very interesting bi-color, since a shoot of her purple one came up right in the middle of mine. And there's now another RoS on the opposite side of my house (that I keep trying to kill since it is too close to the foundation) and it is purple. So either my neighbor's purple RoS managed to put a root all the way under/around my house or it threw a seed over the house....

Read some of Bobberman's RoS posts. He talks about having hundreds of RoS all over his yard. He likes it that way, but not all of us would. Eventually it turns into a huge thicket, 8' high and wider than that and getting wider all the time and sending up shoots all over. Mine isn't that big yet, but I'm constantly pulling shoots out of my flower beds.

I planted mine 12 years ago, before I was quite as educated about this stuff. If I were doing it now, I would plant a viburnum. They are beautiful native shrubs, with heavenly fragrant flowers in the spring (the RoS flowers are showy but not fragrant), that are attractive and useful to bees and butterflies, followed by berries that birds like. The exotic species can't be used by any of the native fauna.

Read Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home, or Sara Stein Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of our Own Backyards. They cover basically the same territory, but I think Stein's writing style is much more enjoyable.

Sorry, I know I'm a bit of a fanatic on this stuff, but if you read one of the books you will know why... Thanks for listening!
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pinksand
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Thanks for your advice! What kind of barrier would you suggest using? I'm not familiar with my options.

Unfortunately I am aware of the RoS spreading nature and that they're transplants from Asia :( I have an Asian moth caterpillar that particularly found a liking to them https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=48738. At one point I was thinking that I had about 20 RoS plants, but when I was out there yesterday I counted 25 from our patio (which didn't include these at the end of our property). Most of them are already taller than me at 6-8' tall. I was also pulling shoots all summer ;), particularly from the bases of the bushes. I do enjoy the bees and butterflies that they attract though! I may be able to get rid of some of the smaller bushes, like the ones pictured and I would love to plant some viburnum!
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rainbowgardener
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The RoS attracts bees and butterflies? That would be unusual for an exotic (except for the similarly exotic asian moth) and I have never seen anything visit my RoS, even though my yard is full of bees and other pollinators.
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pinksand
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Really? Mine were full of bees when they were in bloom! I had a hard time gardening around them because I'm a weenie when it comes to bees ;) Definitely some butterflies in there too!
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rainbowgardener
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Maybe it's a choice thing? Did you have a lot of other stuff in bloom at the time in your yard? I always have tons of native plants blooming, so maybe my bees (of which I do have a lot around) were choosing to prefer them over the RoS.

Any kind of lawn edging stuff will help, though they usually don't make it as deep as it should be.
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pinksand
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I'm still learning exactly what is native... although I did have other plants in bloom it is possible that they are also exotics and less appealing to the pollinators.

My mother-in-law kept dropping off random plants on my doorstep when we moved in this Summer. The ones I can remember that were planted in the back with the RoS are cone flowers, catmint, forget-me-not, and mazus reptans. She also gave me a gorgeous orange bloomer and a red bloomer that were very popular with the hummingbirds, but I can't remember their names :oops:

The plants that were already established out back are dianthus, phlox, coreopsis, lilly of the valley, fern leaf bleeding heart, evening primrose (identified by you!), another variety of primrose, obedient plant (also identified by you), daylillies, purple Siberian iris, shasta daisies, wild geraniums, cleome, cone flowers, lots of black eyed susans, new england asters, and mums. There are a few smaller plants that I either haven't identified or I can't remember them at the moment. Besides the black eyed susans, I'm not sure what else is considered to be native....?

Thanks to some of your suggestions in other threads, I'm hoping to plant some bee balm, butterfly weed, and cardinal flowers next season.

Just how noxious is the euonymus? It doesn't seem to creep like the vinca and put out roots. Does it just get massive quickly? Is it something I can trim up to keep it under control? I wouldn't mind replacing it with some confetti abelia, which has a somewhat similar look but is attractive to pollinators. I adore the little one I planted in my front garden! However, I have lots of plans for creating new gardens in the front (you may remember that thread) and my budget may go towards establishing those. I'm constantly trying to store away the things I learn from you so that when I establish my new gardens from scratch they'll have some good strong natives in there :D
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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