About 12 years ago I purchased a 1929 English Tudor, which at one time had beautiful rose and perennial gardens. Unfortunately they were left to die out except for invasive star of Bethlehem. This has surrounded the house. In the past three years I have dug up every bed and sifted all the soil. All I did was disrupt them; every little baby developed into healthy adult bulbs. What must I do to rid the beds of these menaces? They come up like weeds every spring.
There’s no sugarcoating this…You do have some work ahead of you. Here are several options, listed in order of effort.
- Continue to dig them out every spring; this could take years to get rid of them.
- While a little time consuming, using boiling water is very effective without using chemicals. (Be sure you wear a long-sleeved shirt, closed-toe shoes, and long pants to protect your skin should any of the water splash on you.) If the tubers are several inches under the soil, stir them up enough to get the tubers closer to the surface, and pour the water on them at very close range. Watch for new growth and repeat.
- If you have not already replanted the area(s), cover them with cardboard (or a thick layer of newspaper) and a heavy layer of mulch for one entire growing season. The cardboard and newspaper can be turned under the following year as compost. Any plant must have light to survive and store food; depriving them of that results in death. But these guys don’t go down easy; some may survive and will require digging out or boiling water. Another option is to cover the area with thick black plastic.
- Finally, spray with a vegetation killer and wait. Spray any survivors. This means everything dies, including many living organisms that are good for the soil. This type of product also leaches into the soil because the plants don’t usually consume all of it. Be doubly cautious about the quantity used and mindful of any nearby water sources.