Last week during the Larry Meiller Garden Talk (Wisconsin Public Radio) program, a woman called in to ask what she could do to get rid of Scilla aka Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica). This invasive non-native plant was taking over her lawn and was now moving into her woods. My ears perked up immediately since I, too, have a problem with this nasty non-native.
I don’t know where it came from — probably the birds — but it’s been a “growing” problem for me for several years. It started with one tiny plant in one of my native plant woodlands and has since moved out to the lawn and a second woodland and into the prairie. I’ve tried digging out the bulbs, but they go so deep into the ground, they’re impossible to remove.
Based on what the guest recommended, I pulled off all the flowers and buds for sure. He also suggested removing as much of the green growth as possible to reduce the amount of nutrition returning to the bulb, thereby reducing its ability to flower again next year. In the early spring when the ground is still fairly wet, pulling out the greens allows you to remove some of the underground stems, reducing more of the bulbs available nutrition.
It is obvious it spreads by seed, so removing the flowers and buds was a really sound recommendation. As I was pulling the leaves and flowers, I found many little spires of new plants nestled close by the mature plant. As I moved from plant to plant, I found many of the flowers were already producing seed pods, so timing was perfect.
In areas where I was sure not to affect my native plants, I also hit the Scilla with a herbicide. I didn’t want to take any chance of it spreading further, especially in my woodlands. Note: I prefer using a foam-type spray nozzle for such low-growing plants because I can control where the herbicide goes better. And, be sure to be over-cautious in using it appropriately.
While I was working with the Scilla, I noticed some Garlic Mustard in the prairie as well, so I took care of that right away. Garlic Mustard is easy to pull this time of the year, but be sure to get all of the S-shaped section of the tap root. If you don’t, the plant will resprout.
Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days to remove any flowers you may have missed on the Scilla (and the Garlic Mustard). Good luck in getting control of this miserable plant!