Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

Also known as Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny and Alehoof.

This is a broad-leaf perennial weed and a member of the mint family. 

This ground cover was introduced by early settlers from Europe for it's many medicinal purposes and is found currently in the eastern United States, except parts of Florida and Georgia.

If weed is located near your home, keep in mind ingesting
large amounts by dogs and cats can make them sick.

Sometimes this is referred to catsfoot because of the small and scalloped shaped leaves.

Leaves are hairy and can be bright green to purplish in color. Very small trumpet shaped flowers are a blueish-purple in color and bloom in mid to late spring.

As long as it has moisture, this weed will grow in sunlight but by far prefers shade. This weed actively grows in spring in both rich and poor soils that have drainage issues.

Pretty flowers with leaves that look like cat paws.
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Photo: Atarel
Spreads rapidly
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This is an invasive, creeping vine that out competes most grasses. It will make its way into the lawn and choke out grass breaking down their roots.

It spreads rapidly by seed and nodes, or stem joints, with stems growing up to 30" in length.

Photo: Nadezda Postolit

Different options to ground ivy:

  • It is easy to pull but this will be a constant task. If controlling garden weeds, place a thick layer of mulch on soil after pulling.

  • If weed is in the lawn, fertilize and re-seed grass to compete with this weed.

  • If weed is in an area that won't be used immediately cover area with solarizing black plastic mulch or newspaper and leave on for a full growing season. Once pulling up barrier, try boiling water to kill weed seeds.

  • There are selective herbicides specifically for ground ivy. For best results it is recommended to apply in fall and then repeat the same process one year later.

  • Because it was heavily used in the 1920's as an herbicide, University of Minnesota recently used Borax detergent to test its effectiveness on this creeping vine.

    The study states to not use this method in a garden and, as with the store bought selective herbicide, apply treatment only once each year for two years - only use detergent in spring rather than fall. Apply on warm days when rain is not expected for two days.

    Boron used in small amounts has a toxic effect on ground ivy. Depending on the location of weed and how well it was established, there were some successful results of killing weed.

    The Borax recipe by the University for weed control is:

    - Dissolve 10 oz. Borax
    in 4 oz. (1/2 cup) warm water.

    - Dilute in 2.5 gallons of water.

    - This will cover 1,000 square feet. If you have a smaller area
    to treat, cut the "recipe" accordingly.

    Practice with sprayer tank first. Borax remained in soil for a period of time causing 'hot spots'. Fortunately grass bounced back as the weed died off. Don't overuse Borax in recipe as this will have an opposite effect on weed where it supplies weed with sugar, which is essential. 


  • Similar looking weeds that can sometime be confused with creeping charlie are Henbit, also of the mint family and
    Common Mallow, of the mallow family.  Both are more upright.

  • One reader, Jennifer, has important info to share: 
    "It is also toxic in large doses to horses. My horse almost
    died from ingesting a large amount of creeping charlie. Unfortunately, she also developed a taste for it

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