Advice on getting rid of Fireweed?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Anna Kadlec, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    I have a half-acre garden in South Surrey and I've been battling horsetail, Japanese knotweed, rampant buttercups, creeping spurge, English ivy, etc quite unsuccessfully for the past 14 years. 2 years ago, a bit of fireweed showed up out of nowhere and now it's everywhere. I have tried digging it out, but it always seems to return 10 times stronger than it was before I dug. Any suggestions?
     
  2. pinenut

    pinenut Active Member 10 Years

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    In the Yukon it eventually gets squeezed out by other stuff like wild roses. (The roses are worse. They don't seem to get squeezed out by anything.) Digging it out or tilling it will just make it spread like crazy.
    I honestly don't think there is a solution. Sorry.
    Carl
     
  3. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks. I'm beginning to think that the best course of action is to move.
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Fireweed is an early seral species -- it depends on disturbed soils and environments. With all the weed removal (and likely soil disturbance) you've been doing, it sounds like ideal conditions for fireweed to prosper. Removing it by weeding is likely not going to fix the problem, so you'll need to suppress it.

    From the Royal BC Museum:
    And a comment from the PNW Natives listserv:
     
  5. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Daniel. Making sure the fireweed has "plenty of competition" sounds like a great excuse to fill my car at the annual UBC plant sale in a few weeks :)
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    At least, unlike the other things you've been battling, it's a native plant where you are. Just say you're starting a natives garden and enjoy the spectacular flower show it puts on ;-)
     
  7. pinenut

    pinenut Active Member 10 Years

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    Spectacular indeed! And absolutely everything looks beautiful photographed in a field of fireweed. Babies, motorcycles, grizzly bears... consider leasing the plot to a photographer for a backdrop.
    (Sorta like life dealing you lemons so make lemonade...)
    Cheers anyway
    Carl
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    But don't attempt photos of all three at the same time!
     
  9. flywaysuzy

    flywaysuzy Member

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    When they're young you can eat them-cream of fireweed soup-yum!! I remember when I used to work for fisheries and there was a hatchery up north and one of the guys was death on fireweed. When ever he came there he decapitated any plant he saw. After he left each fireweed he had trimmed sprouted multiple flower heads and had 10x the amount of seed a normal plant would have had...
     
  10. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    Anybody wanna buy a house in South Surrey? It comes with a lovely 1/2-acre garden with a beautiful collection of native plants? Anyone?
     
  11. pinenut

    pinenut Active Member 10 Years

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    We pay a woman up the road for her fireweed honey. Wonderful in your tea or on toast. Bring in some bees while you're waiting to sell.
    Carl
     
  12. vegjen

    vegjen New Member

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    Anna, how did you make out with your fireweed problem? Any advice or lessons learned?
     
  13. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    ... earlier this year someone posted a question about invasive "weeds" in a brand new landscape in Surrey somewhere - I wonder how that has worked out.

    in any event - I related to their story because I paid thousands of dollars for all new decent soil - only to have the biggest invasion of fireweed - yikes. The people around us with swimming pools were not impressed (the fluffy stuff)

    It has taken me years to get rid of it - just keep pulling and do it BEFORE the fluffy seeds drift off - you will be covered in it - I mean, to the extent of undressing in the garage and hosing off before entering your house.

    i had no idea it was so underground invasive, like that alstromeria and morning glory.

    ps - I re-read some of the older posts - the person who talks about the fish hatchery - and the person pulling fireweed - yes, that is my experience - pull one, end up with 10 the next month (assuming it is growing season)

    yet it looks so darn pretty in those calendar and postcard photos of alaska and yukon etc. I had no idea til it ended up in my garden. argh.

    tho the hummers like it. So the few plants that still remain, I leave them and then immediately pick and pull before the fluffy seeds start to fly in the wind.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  14. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    I am (somewhat) happy to say that I no longer have a fireweed problem. I followed the advice offered here and just kept pulling up the plants (without disturbing the roots) as soon as I saw them. This seemed to take down their numbers pretty quickly. At the same time, the buttercups, blackberries, and horsetail continued to multiply at an alarming rate, thereby crowding-out the fireweed entirely. I'm not sure this is a success story :(
     
  15. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    ouch

    it really underlines the importance of buying sterilized soil and if not a DIY project, to make sure in your contract with the landscaper, you spec "sterilized soil"

    like some other people on this board here in Coastal SW BC - I learned that the hard way.

    I wish the "industry" (the professional garden landscape service industry) in BC had some association standards about sterilized soil so that consumers like us are more aware and realize that it does make a difference (as you have discovered too).

    I know I spent THOUSANDS on soil (we had to due to various renovation and new septic install etc reasons on a small lot) - and it came full of weeds (that hatched after the delivery and install)

    oh - and a "head gasket" among other found objects.

    the proverbial "bad apple" supplier shines a poor light on the others who may be supplying decent sterilized clean product.
     

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