The Q&A Archives: Houttuynia

Question: I planted some hottuynia without knowing that it was a ground cover. There are azaleas, lariope, eunymous, etc... planted in the same area. I have dug up most of the dirt and pulled up the houttuynia, but I want to make sure that I get completely rid of it. It is nearly impossible to pull up all of the runners. What do you suggest?

Answer: Houttuynia spreads by underground rhizomes and the only way to eliminate it without harming other plants is to pull up the shoots as soon as they appear. By pulling the stems before they produce leaves, you'll be stopping photosynthesis and keeping the roots from replenishing the carbohydrates they used to produce new shoots. You'll have to keep at it, but eventually you'll starve the roots out and they'll die off. An alternative is to remove all the desired plants in the bed and hit the houttuynia with glyphosate (Round-Up). I've successfully eliminated houttuynia from a flower bed by judiciously pulling up every stem that appeared. It took a full year, but now the bed is Houttuynia free. Best wishes with your project!

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