The Q&A Archives: Seed To Help Control Multifloral Bushes

Question: I am caring for a large field in the pocono mountains in northeast Pennsylvania. The field is a mix of scattered trees and rocky field, with many multifloral bushes scattered throughout. My main concern is getting the multifloral bushes under control. I have tried cutting them back, which helps, but they grow back very hardy. I also use Roundup which helps a lot, but the overspray kills off quite a bit of surrounding grassy vegetation, and of course I can't use it at all near the trees.

I've been wondering if I could carry a bag of hearty grass seed, and when I cut back a bush, if the application of grass seed would help compete for the eco-niche. This would also be valuable in those desolate circles where the Roundup has killed off the root system of the surrounding grasses.

The desired grass would be hearty, but at the same time would not spread too far or choke out other varieties of grass and wildflower already in the field, and cause yet another reduction in biodiversity. Since this is in a field, I would be unable to care for the seed once spread, so it would have to manage on its own.

I realize I may be asking too much to find something that would compete with the multifloral, but not choke out the rest of my lovely biodiverse field. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Answer: In nature, once a gap is opened, something will fill it. On the one had you can take your chances that an existing grass or plant will take the place of the bushes once they are eradicated, or you can introduce something else. It may be that grasses are not the best suited plant for your site, or it may be that they do fill in quickly -- fall and spring are prime times for grass development. Your county extension or an area naturalist might have some suggestions as to what would work best in that particular microclimate and soil type. In any field however you will find an influx of colonizing shrubs and trees that need to be mowed off or brush hogged periodically, especially if the field is not grazed.

Multifloras can be very difficult to control, and applications of an herbicide such as glyphosate may need to be repeated. Make sure you are using the formulation/strength for brush and that you are following the directions carefully. Late summer is a good time to use it because the plants are absorbing reserves for the winter and will translocate it to the roots efficiently at a time when they are less able to put out top growth to overcome the effects. Seedliongs will also continue to appear so it is a matter of vigilance to keep it out of a given area. Your county extension may have some useful suggestions in this area as well, since multiflora is considered a noxious invasive alien plant in PA.

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