Bishop weed seeds
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How to Grow Goutweed
A fast-growing ground cover that can easily get out of control
Gemma Johnstone is a gardening expert who has written 120-plus articles for The Spruce covering how to care for a large variety of plants from all over the world. She's traveled all over Europe, living now in Italy.
The Spruce / K. Dave
Several plant species are referred to as goutweed. The most popular is Aegopodium podagraria. This is a herbaceous perennial that works well as a shrubby, semi-wild ground cover option. It’s fast-growing, hardy, and low-maintenance.
The leafy, spreading foliage normally doesn't grow much taller than 10 inches, but the flowering stalks that appear in early summer can shoot up much taller. Its small, white flower umbels aren't particularly ornamental, and some people simply cut the flowering stalks back to prevent the ground cover from looking untidy.
It readily self seeds and its rhizomatous roots mean that it can be an aggressive spreader and difficult to eradicate once established. If you’re not careful, the leafy mounds could quickly take over your entire garden. Some regions classify it as an invasive species. If you do plan to plant goutweed, you might want to contain it to spots where other plants struggle to survive.
There's a variegated variety of the plant that is known for being less invasive, and this tends to be the most popular choice in gardens.
The plant’s ability to grow in shady locations and a wide variety of soil types, make it a good option for cover under a group of trees. The spreading roots system can be helpful if you’re looking for plants to help tackle steep-sided soil erosion.
|Botanical Name||Aegopodium podagraria|
|Common Name||Goutweed, cow parsley, ground elder|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||Flowering stems can grow to be up to 1m tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade, full shade|
|Soil pH||Acid, neutral, alkaline|
|Hardiness Zones||4-9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Europe, Asia|
A lover of damp and shady conditions, goutweed is adaptable and can handle most soil types, urban pollution, and different moisture levels. This can be a blessing and a curse. It'll grow where other plants won't, but it can also take over your garden space in no time if not kept in check.
How to Grow Bishop's Weed
Bishop’s weed, otherwise known as Aegopodium, is a green or green and white variegated plant used as ground cover. It grows well in zones 4 through 8. It spreads quickly and easily by underground stolons (roots), and can become quite aggressive. It is propagated by division and seeds. Bishop’s weed can thrive in some of the worst soils, and can tolerate full sunlight if it’s kept moist. It grows 12 to 12 1/2 inches tall and produces small white flowers in May and June. Grow bishop’s weed in an area by itself because it is invasive.
- Bishop’s weed, otherwise known as Aegopodium, is a green or green and white variegated plant used as ground cover.
- It spreads quickly and easily by underground stolons (roots), and can become quite aggressive.
Find an area where it’s okay if the bishop’s weed spreads. If you’re concerned about spreading, locate an area that has natural barriers, such as a row of rocks or pavement, which can contain the spread.
Plant bishop’s weed in the spring or fall. Make shallow holes, about 2 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart. Plant the bishop’s weed, spreading out the roots as you go.
Water the plants thoroughly. Keep the soil moist and don’t let it dry out. Bishop’s weed prefers well-drained and evenly-moist soil.
- Find an area where it’s okay if the bishop’s weed spreads.
- Plant bishop’s weed in the spring or fall.
Cut the plants back and water them well if they become brown (likely in full or partial sun). A new set of leaves will grow within a month.
Care For Bishop’s Weed
Plant the bishop’s weed plants 1 foot apart in average soil with good drainage; blend a few inches of organic matter, such as compost, manure or leaf mold, with the native soil to improve drainage and fertility if you have poor soil. Select a site with full sun to partial shade; plants tend to do best with full, filtered sunlight or with some protection from the afternoon sun. Water the plants about once weekly to provide dry to medium moisture for the plants. Expect to water more frequently during the hot, dry summer months than in spring or fall. Remove flower heads as they expire to prevent the plants from setting and dispersing seeds. Cut back and pull up some of the Bishop’s weed by the roots if it spreads to unwanted areas of the yard.
- Cut the plants back and water them well if they become brown (likely in full or partial sun).
Bishop’s weed grows best in shady areas and under trees and bushes.
If you share your plants, let the recipient know that bishop’s weed can become invasive and difficult to remove once it’s established.