NON-NATIVE PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE CONTROL – Control Instructions with Photos

Blossoming spikes of purple loosestrife. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

The purple/pink blossoming spikes of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) are so beautiful this time of year that I wish this plant could be native to our area. Those responsible for its intentional introduction felt the same way. In Europe and Asia, purple loosestrife’s native homeland, specialized insects and disease control its spread. But purple loosestrife is not a native plant to North America and thus there are no native predators to keep this plant from invading and damaging our wetland areas. Biological control of purple loosestrife has been used with great success in some locations as detailed in this article from the Minnesota DNR and Dept. of Ag: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticplants/purpleloosestrife/biocontrol.html

Purple loosetrife taking over a wetland. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Biological control can be a wonderful tool in the tool box to control non-native invasive plant species but it will always have some level of disadvantage. It takes time for those little leaf-eating beetles to get established in your growing patch of purple loosestrife. The word “control” infers control, not eradication. It’s been indicated to me that I have a controlling personality. I think “eradicating personality” would be more accurate. If resources permit, I want purple loosestrife and other non-native invasive plants eradicated from my property. This may be unrealistic in some cases but I can’t hit the moon if I’m shooting for the top of the old oak tree. Please read on if you have an eradicating personality. Here is my step-by-step guide to getting rid of non-native purple loosestrife.

Step 1. Correct plant ID

Correctly ID purple loosestrife by its blossome and these opposite leaves. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

It’s important to correctly ID any plant before you begin your “eradication” effort. Note the appearance of the plant and blossom in the photos above and the leaves opposite each other on either side of the stem.

Step 2. Find the stem base

I flatten down the grasses immediately surrounding the stem for better access to the base of the purple loosestrife stem. Cutting the stem close to ground level will allow the follow on herbicide treatment to be most effective.

Step 2. Flatten vegetation around the stem base for best access to cut and treat. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Step 3. Cut the purple loosestrife stem

Apply 18-20% glyphosate to freshly cut stem. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Use a sharp hand pruner to cut the fibrous purple loosestrife stem just above ground level.

Have your herbide and applicator ready for the next step.

Step 4. Apply herbicide to the freshly cut stump

Buckthorn Blaster is used to apply herbicide to freshly cut stem. Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

This is my favorite part – permanently doing away with this non-native invase plant.  I use the Buckthorn Blaster herbicide applicator to apply herbicide to freshly cut purple loosestrife stems. The herbicide is the same as for cut stump treatment of buckthorn – 18-20% glyphosate* (aka RoundUp Concentrate Plus).  I always include blue indicator dye when filling my Buckthorn Blaster with herbicide. It makes it so much easier for me to tell which stumps have been treated.

* If you are near water, use an aquatic from of glyphosate such as the brand name Rodeo.

Write a reply to this blog if you have questions related to cut-stem treatment of purple loosestrife, or would like to share your ideas for controlling invasive species.

Until next time, get outside and go native.

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Look What I Found – Monarch Caterpillar

While walking through our prairie this weekend to take plant photos I stopped to admire the blossom on a swamp milkweed plant (refer back to previous blog article for photos and value of native milkweed plants) and found this adorable little guy (gal?). I am not an expert on Lepidoptera (nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night!) but it seems a little late in the season for a Monarch (Danaus plexippus)to be at this stage of growth. Any Monarch specialists out there who would be willing to share information on the typical growth stages of this beautiful butterfly?

Monarch caterpillar in mid August (Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Like this adorable caterpillar and its fascinating story, take time to stop and admire the treasures nature has to share with you today.

Cheryl Culbreth
Landscape Restoration, Inc.

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Native Flowering Rain Garden Plants – What’s Blooming in Mid-August

In spring of 2011, I bought an assortment of native Minnesota rain garden plants from the Rice County SWCD (Soil & Water Conservation District). For several years, I had wanted to convert a very small “wettish” area of my lawn into a sample rain garden. Once I took delivery of my 40-plus assortment of healthy new plants it seemed I was committed to this project or my money and plants would be wasted. I removed the sod layer and started planting a few of those new plants.

The area I chose for my little rain garden was frequently saturated after a rain – a good thing for a rain garden. It was along my neighbor’s split rail fence so I would no longer have to tediously mow under the lowest fence rail – another good thing. My neighbors had plantings on their side of the fence which was yet one more good thing and here is why. Author Douglas Tallamy, in his book titled Bringing Nature Home, encourages urban/suburban homeowners to plant along each other’s property boundaries because it provides a larger segment of habitat for native insects, birds, etc. versus each neighbor having an unattached garden in the middle of their property.

A little more than a year after planting, here is what’s blooming in my little rain garden:

Cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.Boneset (Eupatorium spp.) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc. Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.

Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.
I’ve heard people say they don’t like native plants because they are ugly but I believe otherwise. So do all the butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators who are enjoying my native MN plants.

Get outside and go native!

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) Copyright 2012 Landscape Restoration, Inc.)

Cheryl Culbreth