can't get rid of ditch lilies - help please

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

We dug out a 12x12 flower bed at church that was packed with orange ditch lilies. We mulched with 6 layers of newspaper and 4 inches of bark mulch. Every little root must have grown back, they pushed right through the paper and mulch like it wasn't there. We hand dug them again. They are back. I sprayed each and every plant a week ago with roundup. Not a single wilted leaf, and it didn't rain for days after I sprayed, so it didn't wash off. How do I get rid of these plants so we can have a normal garden? Thanks, Cathy

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

They should be bulbs. Did you dig deep enough to get all the bulbs? Roundup doesn't work on everything.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

cathy -- i feel your pain.

these things are hard to get rid of. I think even if there is the tiniest piece of root left, something will grow.

I think when i cut back the foliage this season, i will dab a bit of vine killer on it and see if anything grows back next year.
[i think it's Ortho Vine and Shrub... something like that]

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Thank you both for responses. We thought we had all the tubers/bulbs, but I guess the tiny pieces are growing, again. Tough little suckers!

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

Of course they seed also, so you'll probably never totally get rid of them. Do you think maybe God likes ditch lilies, being at a church and all? I'd just go ahead and plant something with them.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Len, they were so over crowded they were mounded up and hanging over the edges of the curbs. They only had a few blooms this year, and the only other thing that grew in this bed was milkweed. It looked just awful. I'm sure God loves all his plants, and there are other smaller patches of the ditch's. This is one of the biggest islands on the parking lot, it needs more interest than flowers just 2 weeks out of the year. We've lost many of the large trees to storms this year, so I've planted a small redbud at the center. It will be years before I have to worry about shade here, it is full baking sun all day. I've added red knock-out roses zig-zag down the center, and huge yellow mums spaced nearer to the edges. Next spring I will be placing other sun perrenials that bloom with yellows and reds. My big goal is to not have to add annuals, they cost so much. I will probably add a bit of one more color, but haven't decided what at this time, maybe blue or purple?. The church is 200 years old, so most of the plantings are about that old, too, and look it. Time for a bit of change. The ground cover plantings are undecided at this time, too, I'm leaning toward a sedum.

If you have any suggestions, I'm open to them all. I've been mostly a shade gardener, so this is a huge change for me.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)


have you taken a photo of the island?

I've had mostly sun beds, and also try to do all perennials.

at my old house, boarding the driveway, i had bearded iris, creeping phlox [makes a nice carpet of color in the spring/summer] various creeping sedums and roses. I pretty much had constant color for the season, and low maintenance due to the carpet effect of the ground covers.


Fort Myers, FL(Zone 10a)

You can send them to me!! I have a perfect place they can grow all over!

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

Without knowing exactly what and how much space you have to work with might be a little difficult and i'm not a designer. As far as trees for parking lot islands, I have seen ginkos at a nursery in kc. Beautiful yellow -gold in autumn. hard-wood and legacy trees.
For the money, i like rugosa roses. Nice leaves, no spray, nice flowers, red hips for fall and winter, some have foilage change in fall. also they will sucker and fill out more. they also come in white etc.
For about $15 ea. you can buy the roses. this is a decent place with reasonable shipping and good selection of rugosas.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

cathy- go you, for taking this on. !!
I love to do fall pansies, though you are a bit cooler zone,,, for me they live all winter and bloom anytime the weather is nice, up thru April or May.
Perennial blackeyed susans are tough and don't look too messy waiting for you to trim back in winter. Autumn Joy sedum and maybe other sedums.
Liriope to edge or fill area.
Grasses too.
I would try to go slow with planting till you get the ditch lilies tackled. Most people will feel better about a large mulched bed than a weedy, more fully planted one. I did a big shady bed at a school and found out it can easily be more work than you think to maintain.

RoundUp works on lots of plants but sometimes you have to tweak what you're doing. For Hemerocallis fulva (Orange Ditch Lily) you have basically two choices that work well without wasting a lot of elbow grease depending on what time of year it is. In early to mid fall, you cut them down to about 6". Once you have opened the tip of the plant, take a regular old sponge and saturate it with RoundUp and dab it onto the exposed tips of your nasties. In spring, take a little bit of sandpaper and rough up the newly emergent growth and then take a paint brush and paint on the glyphosate. You can spray on the RoundUp too but you avoid drift toward desirable plants if you use a sponge or a paint brush. Regardless of whether you do this in spring or in fall, best to wait until you have at least a week of days where the air temps are going to be above 60 but below 82-84F. RoundUp generally never works when the timing of an application is off. In other words, many plants go "quasi dormant" (for lack of an easier term) at temps below 60F. At temps above 80F, they shut down to conserve energy. If you apply most chemicals at times when plants are either "quasi dormant" or shut down to conserve energy, the chemicals won't work.

Another tip is to apply your chemical at around 11am to noon when the plants are photosynthesizing their little brains out and they'll just slurp that happy juice right on down to the tippy tips of their rhizomes even faster.

Should take about 10 days for the chemical to start working to send them to plant heaven. If you don't see visible affects of impending death, cut the plants down to 4" and reapply the RoundUp at the 10 day mark. I can guarantee this should work on your ditch lilies unless you have some mutant strain. Just kidding, it should work if you time everything properly and work with your weather not against it and you can stand there and gleefully sit shiva over them while planning what to plant in their place.

I had heard of people who had attached sandpaper to fly swatters to swat at plants to rough up the leaf surfaces before spraying them. I must admit I tried it this summer and it did work but I felt really stupid swatting plants when a neighbor stopped over and wanted to know what on God's green earth was I up to this time?

I think that for your area you may have missed your window of opportunity temperature wise to nail your ditch lilies this year. It's getting too darn cold for most products to be effective. Why not just hold off until next spring since our weather probably isn't going to cooperate with you. I have no doubt they'll be waiting for you. They aren't going anywhere and since RoundUp is a short life chemical, you can pretty much plant replacement species in the area after about 2 weeks of using the chemical. Do dig up as much of the rhizomes and tubers after a few weeks of allowing the chemical to work its way to the ends.

Olathe, KS(Zone 5a)

Equilibrium: Thank you. I never knew that about Roundup (timing with temperature).

One more comment about orange ditch daylilies: At my previous home, I dug up lots of them, placed them in black trash bags and thought they would compost over winter. In the spring, I emptied the bags in a ditch and the little devils grew. The winter in the bags did not kill them. They are as bad a pain as spearmint - could not kill that either. And garlic chives - it took over 14 years of trying to stop them in my new place - and I still find new ones.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the RoundUp information, I should have stomped them before I sprayed. It was still warm that week. Carol, I don't doubt they were still alive, the ones i've piled by the dumpster to dry out on the blacktop in the sun look the same 2 weeks later. More digging tomorrow.

On a good note, the red knock-out roses seem to be doing great, still blooming. Our weather has been absolutely wonderful.

Fort Myers, FL(Zone 10a)

If you want.. stick them in a box. I have a area that needs some! Between my parents land and a area under construction.. they have a huge ditch area... I'll stick them there with my EE's

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Noell, If weather allows us to dig any more, I'll send them to you, and there are sure to be more in the spring. What are EEs?

Elephant Ears

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