Wild `strawberries' aren't what they seem

GARDEN Q&A

October 06, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement

My yard is being overtaken by wild strawberries. How do I eliminate them without killing what grass is left?

Do they have yellow flowers? Your wild "strawberries" are probably not strawberries at all, but an alien plant called Indian (as in India) strawberry that masquerades as a strawberry. (Real wild or domestic strawberries have white flowers.)

To get rid of this invasive weed, use a weed killer formulated only for broad-leaved weeds containing triclopyr, alone or combined with dicamba, MCPP and 2-4D. See our online publication under Turf, Broadleaf Weed Control in Established Lawns.

I was given cannas and elephant ears for my ornamental pond. What is the best way to winterize them? Someone suggested I put them in the ground and let them freeze over.

To overwinter tropical cannas and elephant ears, bring them indoors to an area that is 40 to 50 degrees, such as a basement or attached garage. You risk the plants' survival if you put them in the ground.

Cut off top growth, brush soil off the bulbs and allow them to dry before storing in a box or paper bag with newspaper or peat moss. Arrange them in a single layer, not letting them touch each other. Watering is not necessary.

Checklist

Do not spray herbicides around ponds or on breezy days. Lawn herbicides can damage or kill animals and nontarget plants when used incorrectly.

Either shred and hot-compost or discard leaves infected with powdery mildew. This fungus overwinters on fallen leaves and will reinfect foliage next spring. Plant cultivars that are resistant to powdery mildew.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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