Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy, most commonly called Creeping Charlie (Image 1), is also known as gill-on-the-ground. Ground Ivy is often misidentified as Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia (Image 2). Ground Ivy is a perennial ground cover that is native to Europe and was brought to North America as a good plant for the shade.

Ground Ivy has a small pale violet flower (Images 1 & 4), the leaves are bright green, round or kidney-shaped with scalloped edges (Images 3 & 4). The leaves appear opposite of each other on a square (four sided) creeping stem that can root at the nodes. It can encroach into a turf area (Image 5) and once established, it suppresses the growth of surrounding plants by use of biochemicals. When the leaves are crushed it produces a strong mint odor.

Ground Ivy can be confused with henbit, which is a winter annual, dying off over the summer and coming from a seed every fall.


Ground Ivy is one of the most difficult weeds to control. Ground Ivy thrives in shaded, moist areas and areas that have been neglected or poorly managed. Reducing the shade or moisture can help reduce the spread of the weed. Planting shade varieties of grass in turf areas can help as well.

Hand pulling is an option when there are only a few young plants, but once Ground Ivy is established, pulling may actually help them spread. Hand pulling is the only option for control in the vegetable garden.

With chemical treatments, two to three applications will usually be required. Fall is the absolute best time to apply with spring being next, summer applications will vary in effectiveness.

The best chemical by far for control is Hi-Yield® Triclopyr Ester with Hi-Yield® Spreader Sticker. This combination can be used on all cool season grasses, but not on Bermudagrass lawns. Two applications 2 to 3 weeks apart should be enough. NOTE: Without Hi-Yield® Spreader Sticker, Hi-Yield® Triclopyr Ester will not work.

In cooler temperatures and in late fall, ferti•lome® Weed Free Zone has shown to be very effective. Two applications, 2 weeks apart will be required, but Hi-Yield® Spreader Sticker will not be necessary.

Finally, in the landscape, ferti•lome® DECIMATE™ is a great choice because it doesn’t fume like some others, so can be used close to desirable plants. DON’T spray on the plants you want to keep. You can also mix this up and use a foam paint brush and daub it on the leaves. This can be made to work better with the addition of Hi-Yield® Herbicide Enhancer as it helps ferti•lome® DECIMATE™ to stick and penetrate.